cover image Land of the Sons

Land of the Sons

Gipi, trans. from the Italian by Jamie Richards. Fantagraphics, $29.99 (280p) ISBN 978-1-68396-077-5

In this meditative graphic novel, two teenage brothers scavenge in a swampy wasteland after an undefined global disaster, bringing food and trade items home to their father. There are a few other people near the lake where they live, including a distrustful fellow scavenger and a “witch” who was once a doctor, but the boys are forbidden to explore further afield. Deliberately raised without education or affection so they can focus on survival, the brothers become resentful under their father’s gruff authority and curious about his diary, which they are unable to read. Then a mishap forces them into the outside world, which the reader discovers right along with them. This unusual postapocalyptic story is often grim and violent, but by channeling the story through the brothers’ limited, cockeyed perspective, Gipi develops a naturalism and human quality often missing from SF survival fantasies. The loose, limber black-and-white artwork is a marvel; the figure drawings balance careful realism with cartoon expression, and details of the natural world—rain, water, weeds—are sketched in quick, powerful lines. Above all, the art reveals a credible vast alternative landscape of mud, water, reedy islands, makeshift boats, and strange and hostile patched-together colonies. It’s a strikingly envisioned imaginary world. (May)