Publisher: Archaia, an imprint of BOOM! Studios
Writer: K. I. Zachopoulos
Artist: Vincenzo Balzano
Release Date: 20th July, 2016
“What is a wish?”
That’s the question posed to the protagonist of this new Original Graphic Novel from BOOM!. Told from the perspective of a wolf called Cloud, we follow his journey – along with his human – as they try to find a wish that was taken from them.
The story itself is incredible. There are a fair few influences at play here, running the whole gamut from from Never Ending Story to Hayao Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli. On the surface, we follow a boy and his flying wolf as they journey through a land of sky castles, talking heads and fishing for birds. The purpose of their journey is to find a wish that was taken from the boy’s father and to wish him back. However, along the way we meet a diverse group of characters that have a touch of Gaiman or Pratchett about them in a way that is both warming and familiar to the reader. A personal favourite of mine being the aforementioned talking Easter Island Head.
At its guts though, this is a journey of finding one’s self, of growing up, and of learning the lesson that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few – or, in this case, the needs of the one.
Helping tell this story is the painfully beautiful artwork of Vincenzo Balzano. Every single page wouldn’t be out of place in an art gallery. With just a hint of Dave McKean about it, every page has the appearance of being painted in one single sitting, with an unusual panel structure being used to tell the story along with the narrative. Such an interesting colour palette is used, with Balzano not shying away from harsh reds and big blank spaces, the type of things that would perhaps intimidate a lot of other artists, but in this situation just seems to work? Stylistically, it has a very similar feel to anime, in that this could easily be an animated film instead of a graphic novel.
There are more than a few life lessons packed into the seemingly lighthearted story, bubbling just under the surface of the beautiful artwork and whimsical tale. While it’s not making any changes to a well-known formula, it has all the makings of a classic story in the Arcadia imprint, joining Mouse Guard as a thing of absolute beauty.
With a diverse cast and a story that gives you a warm fuzzy feeling inside, Cloud is a welcome addition to any bookshelf.
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