The Sea

Rikke Villadsen. Fantagraphics, $16.99 (104p) ISBN 978-1-68396-149-9
Villadsen sails on a surrealist tide in this wispy ode to the unknowable depths of the ocean. A fisherman—who insists that he’s actually a sailor, and that the difference is crucial—finds a newborn and a talking fish in his net one foggy afternoon. They proceed to poke holes in his weathered worldview, saying that his old-fashioned patois is inauthentic and his mother was a mundane fishwife (not the martyr he remembers her as). After the baby inexplicably disappears during a storm, the fish insists the child never existed at all. The book is more symbol than substance, and at its end, the general air of unease lingers more than any particular plot point. This is very clearly Villadsen’s intention, but the dreamlike atmosphere would have landed more effectively if it had something of greater solidity to tether itself to. The lush, smoky pencils are mostly why the story works: the fisherman’s craggy hands and the swallowing murk of the waves are elegant and evocative. Though this tale of madness has its moments of potency, it is, ultimately, a tempest in a teapot. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 11/05/2018
Release date: 12/11/2018
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