With the awesome Thought Bubble Comic Festival returning this past weekend, we’re still catching up on as many of the amazing titles that debuted there as possible! First up, we check out Rebecca K Jones’ Boomerang Part 1: Autumn & Part 2: Winter – a relatable, slice of life comic series about a struggling graduate navigating life as an adult!
Publisher: Rebecca K Jones
Writer: Rebecca K Jones
Artist: Rebecca K Jones
Price: £7.00 from Rebecca’s Etsy!
The pressure is ON for recent psychology graduate Claire. Like a lot of us, Claire feels a little directionless after finishing her degree: she’s only just become an adult, and yet life seems to be moving a mile a minute. People want answers: What are you doing next? What have you got lined up? WHEN?! Throughout the rest of the Boomerang series, Claire finds herself living with her mum again, navigating the job market and dealing with anxiety and insomnia. Will she be able to overcome the seemingly insurmountable challenges ahead of her?
Before we really get into the ins and outs of these comics, we wanted to point out how great it is that Boomerang focuses on the specific issue of feeling directionless after university. As a recent graduate myself, it really does feel like the pressure is on to immediately get your dream job and be incredibly successful. It’s a very stressful time, and Jones does a brilliant job of capturing and bringing and bringing attention to this generally overlooked issue throughout!
Now, into the nitty gritty! Part 1: Autumn focuses largely on our protagonist Claire and how she is dealing with some very real issues, including insomnia and anxiety. Claire has constant thoughts swirling through her head about whether she’ll ever get a job and what she’s going to do with her life. What doesn’t help is the constant question from almost everyone she knows: ‘So…what are you going to do now?’. All postgraduates are undoubtedly united in their general hatred of this question. Throughout the rest of Part 1, we watch Claire struggle with the job market, potentially having to settle for a job she dislikes, and being able to finally confront her mental health issues.
Part 2: Winter starts off a bit more jolly, with the beginning of the Christmas season, and I absolutely identify with Claire’s love of Christmas charity shop shopping (there’s nothing like a great book bargain!). The subtle additions of lights, holly, tinsel, and snow in the backgrounds were a real treat for the eyes! This second volume is much more focused on friendships and flashbacks, rather than specifically mental health issues (although that cliffhanger means we’ll definitely be coming back to them in Volume 3!). We loved learning more about Claire as a child and a teenager at university, and it was especially interesting to retrospectively watch the downfall of her past relationship with Martin, while simultaneously seeing the slow build up of a possible friendship turned relationship with fellow job hunter Dan. We also really enjoyed how Claire’s mum got a few pages to herself, showing us a bit of her social life outside of her relationship with Claire.
We can’t talk about these comics without dedicating a good amount of time to their gorgeous illustrations and beautiful colour palette. The dark and lighter blues throughout work wonderfully as the base colour and are evocative of Claire’s troubled emotions. Coupled with this, the splattering of vibrant yellow really makes these stunning pages pop. This is exactly our kind of art style – both beautiful to look at, and completely in tune with the themes of the book. The typography is also flawless, with Jones making the choice to pen her own cursive script rather than type it, adding to the caliber of the comic, and making it feel like a carefully constructed piece of artwork.
Some panels deviated from the norm, focusing more on watercolour drawings with light blues and oranges – the leaves on the trees in the backgrounds often incorporate this, and evoke the wonderfully cozy feeling of autumn in the first volume, while in the second, darker shades and snowy white backgrounds got us feeling festive!
We adored the quaint town of Stonemarket that Jones created as the backdrop to this story – the magical footpaths, the strong sense of community, their Fun Days and beautiful fireworks (we love the orange hues here!), but we could also totally understand and identify with how Claire felt stifled by this small town. Moving back home after living alone or with friends after university can feel like a real step backwards in your independence and growth as an adult, especially when getting a job is so difficult.
Both issues end on somewhat of a cliffhanger; The first with Claire beginning to introduce some changes into her life and seeming to prioritise her mental health, and the second with Claire’s mother discovering a secret that Claire definitely does not want her knowing. We can’t wait to see how this stunning story carries on from and evolves from the first issues in Volumes 3 & 4!