Killbuck is Knickerbocker’s first full-length graphic novel. The story centers around Kris, Jesse and Gracie, a group of high school friends and their everyday interactions in the small town of Killbuck. The choice that each teenager must make about their future looms over their actions or lack of actions and propel the story forward. What happens to the people who want to leave a rural life but can’t or won’t?
Knickerbocker’s stripped-down cartooning style fills the page with emotion. The mood is set with the singular color of the book, varying shades of blue. There is a sense of anticipation as the characters realize they must choose their path. They work part-time jobs, hang out with friends, deal with bullies, handle family issues and find ways to have fun. But the inescapable feeling of dread about growing up is always present. They are on the cusp of figuring out how their lives will be as adults.
This story is a vessel asking what identity is when nothing, not even places are permanent. The end of the book doesn’t offer definitive answers to the questions it raises, but it packs a proverbial punch—Michelle Zamanian