Don’t be fooled by the bright colors and cartoon animals of Keith Jones’ Secretimes: The new graphic novel from Drawn & Quarterly may appear light and cheerful on the surface, but Jones explores some dark subject matter in these pages, challenging expectations of the talking animal genre.

These preview pages start with standard cartoon vagrant fare, as a hobo pigeon and elephant grab breakfast out of a dumpster. But events take a chilling turn when the hobos are discovered by celebrity bounty hunter Randolph Rhoades, who immediately opens fire on the two men wanted for murder. The page showing the bullet penetrating the pigeon’s head and immediately killing him is a strong example of the black comedy that dominates this book, with a punch line rooted in Rhoades’ complete disregard for the taking of a life. Jones’ story is filled with these kinds of surprises, and readers can discover more about this unconventional cartoon world by picking up Secretimes, which is in stores now.

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