I hadn't heard of Troy Little's "Chiaroscuro" until last year. I checked out his blog (www.meanwhilestudios.com), and was impressed by his artwork. So, I ordered one of his review editions of "Patchwork Volume I" and was very fortunate that he had one left to sell. Fortunate, because after finally finding the time to dive in and devour this book, I feel foolish for not having been aware of this series earlier.
Right off the bat, this book has an energy and a style that immediately sets it apart from and far above the pack (this guy is a pro, even if he doesn't know it yet) -- I was hooked, and read the entire 234 page book in one sitting. There are some obvious influences in there. Early on you can see the Church & State era Dave Sim, especially in the lettering (the shapes and sizes of word balloons that make the dialogue vibrantly expressive) and tight Gerhard crosshatching - even hints of those famous architectural backgrounds. As the book progressed, the evolution of Little's work tells the tale of the six year journey to complete this work -- and I saw influences of everything from Bill Watterson to late period Paul Smith to Jeff Smith -- and a settling in, to me eyes, of a style all his own.
The writing is top notch, especially in the dialogue department. Very natural, and sincerely funny -- and when the book takes both romantic and frightening twists, Little pulls these off just as well. He has created a protagonist who is complex, and frustratingly familiar in his inability to focus.
Word is that IDW will be publishing a hardcover of "Chiaroscuro" in the Fall of 2007. Buy it. Enjoy it. And hopefully we'll see the further adventures of Steven Patch & company soon.