Friday, 18 January 2019

ReadItDaddy's YA / Adult Comic of the Week - Week Ending 18th January 2019: "On a Sunbeam" by Tillie Walden (Avery Hill)

Our YA / Comic of the Week comes with a "Parental Advisory: Strong Language / Adult Themes" sticker attached to it, but like a great many comics I've read recently, this is one I can't wait to share with C when she's older.

Once again, super-talented Tillie Walden has demonstrated why she was one of the youngest ever Eisner Award nominees, this time with a sprawling science fiction queer space epic that - for someone so young - could almost be a piece of career defining work.

"On a Sunbeam" at first feels like one of those comics you're going to need to read through a dozen or so times before you're going to understand its layers and nuances.

Yet the themes it explores are familiar, heart-wrenching, joyful, sad and relatable all at the same time, covering a lot of ground - and in a comic with 544 pages, plenty of space to go into great depth in the way the story unfolds.

This is the story of a young girl named Mia, and her chronicle begins as she embarks as a crewmember of the Spacecraft Aktis.

Tillie Walden's storytelling and artwork are just incredible

The team aboard the ship are responsible for cruising through space, repairing ancient monuments and buildings - but Mia constantly casts her mind back to a rebellious time as a pupil at a spacegoing Boarding School (honestly, who the hell WOULDN'T want to read a story about a space-going Mallory Towers!?)

"On a Sunbeam" conveys so many heartfelt moments with pure use of visual panels rather than words. Stunning. 

Mia's past and present weave together as we discover more about Mia's past, and a doomed relationship with another rebellious girl at school, as she becomes closer to her crew on the Aktis. 

Mia's story is hugely complex, with many incidents and tragedies to cope with along the way as well as lost love. Tillie has the amazing gift to ensure that each scene is so beautifully described and drawn that you'll find yourself turning blue about mid way through the book as you realise you've barely dared to breathe. 

Tillie's characters always feel relatable, believable - even in the most surreal settings. 

Originally published as a webcomic, On a Sunbeam was nominated for an Eisner Award in 2017 and won Best Webcomic with Walden winning Best Artist at the 2017 Broken Frontier Awards. Deservedly so, as this is just one of the most beautiful and heartfelt comics you'll read this decade.

Absolutely stunning in every sense of the word. If you can hunt it out, go for the glorious hardback version with full colour covers from Tillie. It's absolutely jaw-droppingly gorgeous. 

"On a Sunbeam" by Tillie Walden is out now, published by Avery Hill (very kindly supplied for review)