Writer/Artist: Matt Taylor
Release Date: 15th November 2014 (Thought Bubble)
A ship burns on a turbulent sea. An unknown man clings to a tiny rowboat, a locket with a picture of a beautiful woman clutched in his hands. Great Salt Lake is an instantly powerful piece of work from illustrator Matt Taylor; a silent journey as a man struggles to overcome the ravages of nature in the vain hope that he will one day be reunited with his lost love. This 28 page one-shot story is almost entirely devoid of dialogue, save for one incredibly poignant line in the final panel, and features some truly stunning visuals from Taylor.
Taylor’s uncoloured artwork is slick and polished, with thin, detailed lines and an extremely impressive grasp of scale. While the man’s journey is a physical one, it also turns out to be a psychological one as his increasing desperation and spiralling sanity causes the waves and elements around him to take on an almost supernatural appearance. Skeletal fingers grasp at his boat from the black waters below; thundering horses emerge from the roaring waves – it’s an impressive visual treat, and Taylor grounds this almost dizzying spectacle around the man himself as his expression runs the gamut from sadness to determination to despair throughout the course of his journey.
While a book completely lacking in dialogue may be a tough sell to some people, the artwork in this book is so incredibly expressive that words would almost feel like an unnecessary distraction from the story being told. Taylor’s panel layouts keep things moving forwards, and his subtle change in line thickness instantly differentiates the man’s memories of his past from the harrowing events of the present day. One particularly powerful scene sees him reminiscing on a particularly tender moment with his lost love, before gradually noticing that his feet are wet, then his ankles, then his knees – before snapping back to the present day into a jaw-dropping set-piece. Like I said, this is truly powerful stuff.
A lot of comics these days, while enjoyable at the time, can be seen as somewhat fleeting in their appeal. A quick fix to be enjoyed and almost instantly forgotten. Great Salt Lake is definitely not one of these comics. The powerful imagery and enigmatic ending will linger in your head long after you’ve turned the final page, and the artwork is so immaculately produced as to completely remove the requirement for ham-fisted exposition and clunky dialogue. Great Salt Lake goes on sale at Thought Bubble on the 15th and 16th of November, priced just £5. Make sure to seek out Matt in the TB Teepee if you’re heading down to Leeds next month. I guarantee you won’t regret it.
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