Cleaning up after yourself makes perfect sense, but Josh has to clean up after his mom - and she’s just made one hell of a mess. Regardless of how he feels about his mother, Josh still loves his younger siblings greatly and wants to make sure they stay safe. It’s because of his love for them that Josh finds himself in the woods near his trailer home digging a ditch for the deceased drug-dealing ex-boyfriend of his mother. A dispute over drug money leaves the body bleeding on their living room floor, and Josh has to get rid of the corpse.
Josh endures the following weeks in an almost Tell-Tale Heart manner, constantly worrying about the body being discovered. Neighborhood mutts, drug-users, and his loser friends with morbid fascinations continually rediscover the body, literally digging up the past and causing Josh great anguish. But the juggling doesn’t stop there, Josh discovers his mother’s new career choice and fears for her safety and that of his siblings. The only ray of light comes from Michelle, a romantic interest from whom Josh continually shies away because of the demands of his family.
Trailers delivers a dark, gritty tale about life on the rougher side of the tracks. Josh struggles with a variety of social and personal problems that would be difficult for any adult, never mind a teenager. When he should be worrying about his grades, he’s making sure his family is fed and that the house looks fairly decent. It’s a stark contrast to what we conceptualize our teenage years to be, and yet so many youths go through similar situations in their upbringing. Unfortunately, not all can experience the more optimistic ending that Josh has.
One perceivable flaw in the story is the depiction of women. There are two major female characters: Nora, Josh’s mother, and Michelle, Josh’s girlfriend. Though slightly inverted, viewers are still subjected to the classic virgin/whore dualism that plagues social perception of women. Trailers provides a wide range of male characters of much more complexity than just good or bad, yet Michelle’s unyielding sacrifice and devotion to Josh contrast brightly against Nora’s uncaring, destructive tendencies. Michelle can make mistakes, but her intentions are good; Nora may do something right, but her intentions are bad. The iconic presentation of these women is personified in the few other female representations of women, such as Nora’s “coworkers” and Josh’s guidance counselor: saints or sinners.
For a story this stark, the art can sometimes feel a bit too comical, particularly Josh’s face. While in certain panels, the artists fantastically blend the black and white to create a dark demeanor on Josh’s behalf, at other times, his face seems almost plucked from straight from a Disney cartoon cel. Otherwise, the art works well, particularly the backgrounds. Kneece and Collins-Rousseau transition from the very crowded scenes of the trailer to more isolated and minimal backgrounds outside. Inside the trailer, Josh’s environment consumes him, while outside his home and almost everywhere else, he is depicted as isolated.
This graphic novel provokes one to look past the general depiction and stereotype of people who live in trailer parks. Their lives are as complex as our own. This woeful tale of adolescence grapples a variety of issues in subtle and suggestive ways, allowing readers to place themselves in Josh’s world and really appreciate what they have.