cover image Cloud Hotel

Cloud Hotel

Julian Hanshaw. Top Shelf, $19.99 trade paper (176p) ISBN 978-1-60309-425-2

Genre bends in this psychodrama about an adolescent boy who’s abducted from the dreary 1980s English countryside and spirited to a hotel in the clouds (that feels straight out of a Wes Anderson film) by unseen and inscrutable aliens. The boy, Remco, soon encounters the mysterious, star-shaped sunglasses–wearing Emma, who urges him to answer a ringing phone that she claims will transport him home. Remco refuses, but yet he’s magically returned to the woods, with only a scrap of hotel wallpaper as proof of his kidnapping. Remco discovers that he—and he alone—has the ability to will himself to travel back and forth to the Cloud Hotel. He calls it his “happy place,” his escape from a real world where his family is slowly falling apart around him. Only the Cloud Hotel soon begins to fall apart as well, as Remco tries desperately to save Emma. The blocky figure work by Hanshaw (Tim Ginger) flattens his characters’ emotions, but his panel layouts and richly colored mise-en-scène are impressively imaginative. As if Philip K. Dick wrote a teen graphic novel, this elaborate (if occasionally confusing) allegory for confronting adolescent alienation whimsically shifts between fantasy and reality and brings the reader along into the dreamy milieu of its characters. (July)