Now available in a gorgeous paperback edition, we revisit Molly Mendoza’s Skip from Nobrow Press, which falls into the same Studio Ghibli-esque folktale inspired world that we loved in their recent releases like Hicotea or Gamayun Tales. As a young boy is transported into a dream like other world, along with his strange new friend they must attempt to find their way back home.
Skip follows a young boy called Bloom who lives in a non-specific wasteland. It would be easy to call it ‘post-apocalyptic’ as that would be the lazy genre shorthand, as it feels like something more subtle than that. Bloom and his mother Bee live by a lake, which they look after (and which looks after them) but when Bee gets called away to answer a distress call, Bloom must remain behind and finds himself falling into the lake and into another world where he meets fellow outsider Gloopy (who has also been cast adrift from his own home). As he and Gloopy attempt to find their way home, they foster an unlikely friendship as they visit strange new worlds, many of which defy description and feel like surreal and abstract dreamscapes.
Sink is a curious little book. It’s most obvious point of reference is something like Alice in Wonderland as Bloom is cast into a surreal, dreamlike place and the plot follows his attempts to get back. However, it is also coloured by the modern fairytale sensibilities of the aforementioned Studio Ghibli. It has that same wistful mysticism and characters who mix scale and perspective that make Ghibli so mesmerising. For example there are gigantic birds and strange animals that inhabit the landscapes, who interact with the minuscule Bloom and Gloopy and it plays with your idea of where the characters are in the world making it much more than just a simple collection of fantasy realms with fun people who live in them.
Oh, and did we mention that Gloopy is a baseball cap wearing mini Wookiee type character who comes from a world of creatures that are definitely not human! See what we mean, nothing is how you expect it.
While we feel like we are in familiar (albeit fantastical) territory with some of the concepts and styles of the story, the artwork sends us off in a completely different direction which helps to make Skip really stand out from the crowd. Mendoza has a very loose European style, which feels a bit like Alex Putkin’s work on Gamayun Tales as well as Alexis Deacon’s work on Geis with it’s almost pencil style linework. But it has this surrealist, almost avant grade approach to a lot of the pages which reminded us of the work of Gareth Hopkins or Stuart McCune.
Mendoza is not afraid to throw abstract shapes and patterns into a page in order to create these glorious collages of colour and texture, that help make the worlds Bloom and Gloopy even stranger and more surreal than the simple line work could other wise manage. All of which makes every page a mini masterpiece that shifts and changes as the worlds become stranger and more elaborate.
Speaking of colour, It also has a delightfully colour scheme using simple washes of just a few simple colours to differentiate a lot of the various worlds. From the oranges of the giant crows nest to the blues of L1ly’s world and the purples and greens of the dinosaur games room, the book is a riot of complementary colour, which contrast nicely with the murky world which Bloom originally starts in.
The only downside to this brave style is that at times the strangeness of the imagery can overwhelm the page. It becomes more about the visuals of the world and less about the characters and so isn’t always easy to follow where the story is leading us. The characters can also be so unconventional, that you aren’t entirely sure what is hapeening and because Bloom and Gloopy flit from world to world with relative quickness, you never quite get a sense of where they are or who the people and creatures are that they are encountering.
While Skip may not have the instant hook and breathtakingly original artwork of a book like Hicotea, it is definitely one which is worth checking out. Skip is a thoughtful and beautifully told tale of friendship and a search for purpose, which is brought to life by a glorious mix of abstract imagery that helps to really make the most this book’s dreamlike and otherworldly qualities. Another sublime offering from the always interesting Nobrow.