The new book from Lost Light’s Claire Spiller and the fine folk at Good Comics, Raze is another story that looks at the environmental impact of mankind on the natural world. This time by look at the impact of roads and transport on Mother Nature.
Publisher: Good Comics
Writer: Claire Spiller
Artist: Claire Spiller
Price: £5 from the Good Comics online store
While ‘roadkill’ may not sound the most interesting topic for a comic, Clare manages to create something really special by building a modern mythic folk tale with animals at the core. It starts off in a surreal and almost dream like world where there are ‘more gods than stars in the sky’, and these gods are surreal and abstract animal creations that look like something from a Dali and Picasso infused fever dream. The world of these magical creatures becomes overtaken by the arrival of man, who replaces the old gods and cause the animals to die on our roads. However, this brings about the arrival of a new god, who is represented by a yellow deer who brings compassion and retribution to the world for the evils which man has dished out.
Raze is a really powerful and evocative story which builds slowly and twists and turn in directions you don’t expect. While it may sound a bit preachy and overly earnest, it is anything but and a large part of this is down to amazing artwork which Clare uses to present the story with. The only colour she uses through is the yellow of the deer, and the monochrome world which she presents the rest of the story in, is something else. From the surreal animal gods at the beginning, to the more realistic scenes involving the animals on our road, through to the spectacular final pages with the new god bursting forth.
While our descriptions of this may sound over the top, it is anything but, and the artwork has this glorious stillness and subtlety to it. It’s not a book based on hyperbole or sensation, but one which is very carefully and articulately compiled and created. The detail is fantastic on each page, and the shifts in tone are subtle but also completely in keeping with what has come before. It feels both classic and quite traditional, with its pencil and wash style. It reminded us of everything from Tillie Walden and Shaun Tan’s work, to a children’s picture book and even a Studio Ghibli animation – especially with some of the panels and compositions which are quite ambitious, especially in the final third.
While the message at its heart is about being kind to animals, it is not just about that. As with Lost Light its about wider environmental concerns, and is attempting try and encourage us all to have a more compassionate attitude to the world around us. At a time when we are encouraged to be more kind and considerate to our fellow man as well as the world around us, it is just the right kind of message we need to hear at this time.
Raze is one of those books which sneaks up on you, and on a first read you can appreciate that is a very fine creation. However when going back and re-considering the story and analysing the panels in more detail do you begin to see the artistry and brilliance on display in each page. It is also one of those books which will change how you think about the world, but as with Lost Light, it is done with real grace and poetry and without sacrificing readability in order to do it.
A truly wonderful read, with a heartfelt and powerful message at its core, this is another triumph from Spiller and the Good Comics team!