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Memorable but not meaningful graphic novel explores the essence of music


Dave Chisolm

Diamond Books

Comics and Graphic

Pub Date 30 May 2017


Why do you create? What is the purpose for art, for music? What would you give to be noticed, remembered? Tom is a man who is a good trumpet player, but not a great one. He is dissatisfied with playing with his friends, angry and more than a little self-centered. One day an old man gives him a black trumpet. With it, Tom is able to play music that captivates and inspires, but it also kills. In addition to the terrible price of playing, homeless cultists are pursuing Tom in order to retrieve the trumpet. While dodging their attempts, Tom travels between worlds, encountering musicians from bygone eras who argue the purpose of creation. The graphic novel is definitely strange. Between the cultists who worship these otherworldly instruments and the surreal encounters with those who created great music, it’s easy to understand why Tom becomes more and more paranoid. Instrumental is not the easiest graphic novel to follow or even like. The ending is particularly odd. I did like the concept behind the novel, and the pairing with the jazz soundtrack, but that doesn’t redeem Chisolm’s work. It is too incoherent to be meaningful, but I will grant that it is memorable

3 / 5

I received a copy of Instrumental from Diamond Books in exchange for an honest review.



Tom is an good trumpet player but not a great musician. One day after a set with his band at a local café, tom is given a black trumpet by an mysterious old man. Whenever the Trumpet is played otherworldly music comes out however it comes with a price that someone dies whenever it is played

Like a musical Faust Tom must decide if what the value of great art is all the while dodging deranged cultists and discovering the mysterious origins of the "instrument"

Includes a Jazz Soundtrack by the writer Dave Chisholm

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