Daily Graphic Novel Recommendation 115

Celeste

by INJ Culbard
Genre notes: whoa
192 pages
ISBN: 1906838763 (Amazon)

INJ Culbard is one of the most competent illustrators around. His style veers toward simple (a notch more detail in his faces than Stuart Immonen circa Nextwave and Moving Pictures) but he is so expressive that the simplicity suits his work and brand of dynamism. A couple of years ago American readers would probably be largely unfamiliar with him if they hadn't caught his adaptations of Doyle (Holmes), Burroughs (Martian Chronicles), and Lovecraft (Cthulhu mythos), but he's enjoyed a bit more spotlight with both the New Deadwardians and the delightful War Of The Worlds riff, Wild's End (which is actually far more interesting than War Of The Worlds).

Celeste follows three narrative threads: a young albino woman in Britain, a suicidal artist in Japan, and a middle-aged dude stuck in traffic on the 405. Then everybody on earth vanishes except these three. And the other young woman that the albino woman meets, a man stuck in another car on the 405, and the bizarre cast of yokai and other odds and ends that the Japanese man meets. All very strange, all very neat.

With Celeste, Culbard proposes an alternative to the kind of disposable stories that so much of the medium seems to be swamped in, books that can be plowed through without a single thought toward interpretation, toward meaning, toward purpose and end. The book is dreamy and trippy and a bit Twilight-Zoney. Celeste is elegant and bizarre and doesn't forthrightly open itself to the reader. It begs to be mulled. Which makes the coincidence of its lovely illustrations a special treat.

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