Space Story

Fiona Ostby. West Margin, $16.99 trade paper (160p) ISBN 978-1-513-12875-7

Economical and poignantly told, Ostby’s debut graphic novel sets a queer family’s separation drama against an apocalyptic backdrop. In yellow-hued flashbacks, Hannah and Leah meet in school and begin a shy romance. Their planet’s ailments are unnamed, but earthquake-like “Events” are common and their friends await passports to escape to a space station. The present-day narratives are split in two: Hanna has jetted ahead of her family, and in her blue-toned scenes she adjusts to life in space with only strangers for company, contrasted with Leah’s bright red pages, in which she and Hanna’s daughter Bird try to engineer a path to space. If there are sociopolitical reasons behind who escapes and who stays, Ostby doesn’t explain them, choosing instead to focus on difficult choices and mental endurance. Val, an older butch barber at the station, gives Hannah a packet of seeds and says, “Ya gotta have somethin’ to keep you alive when you don’t wanna be.” Drawn with simple, sure strokes, Ostby’s characters sport thick limbs and body hair, bringing warmth and imperfection to the coldness of space. Juxtapositions pack a punch, as when Hannah’s tiny blue plant grows across from Leah’s red launchpad. This is a touching love story for hard times. Agent: Matt Belford, Tobias Literary Agency. (June)
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