Greg McElhatton has written a wonderful review of David Kelly’s Rainy Day Recess: The Complete Steven’s Comics, on Read About Comics. He really picks up on the multi-layered way that Kelly tells the story: through a kid’s eyes, but with a window into a much larger picture that we are left to sort out for ourselves.
One of the early stories in Rainy Day Recess, by way of example, involves Steven taking in his sister’s two Indian dolls for show and tell; the dolls are stolen out of Steven’s desk and it’s a heartbreaking moment when Steven realizes that someone’s taken them. Even when they’re found, badly damaged, as a reader it’s hard to not feel great anger at the student who stole and broke the dolls, no doubt out of malice. But then Kelly gives us a glimpse into the life of the kid who took them, and suddenly nothing is quite so simple. What at first comes across as nothing but mean-spirited now feels like it’s part of something much larger and also much more depressing than just a broken doll. Since this is told entirely from Steven’s perspective, we never get the whole story, or in some ways even a proper conclusion to this other student’s story. Instead the reader, like Steven, is left to wonder and try and fill in the blanks themselves. It’s impressive how much emotion Kelly is able to wring out of his audience in just a few pages, and in a story that leaves so much hanging.