Review – The Garden (Liminal 11)

Publisher: Liminal 11
Writer: Sean Michael Wilson
Artwork: Fumino Obata
Release Date: 21st May 2020

Joanna is a financial consultant who finds herself signed off from her high-pressure job following a nervous breakdown.  During her recovery, and in an attempt to get her out of her rut, her sister Samantha encourages her to try and do something to keep her mind occupied, suggesting that she could perhaps do something with her sorely neglected back garden.

Never one to do things by halves, Joanna quickly decides to make the trip to Kyoto, Japan to attend a course on the arts of Zen gardening and meditation, returning with a whole new outlook on herself, her life, and the overgrown and poorly maintained patch of green at the back of her house.The Garden, from writer Sean Michael Wilson and artist Fumio Obata, is the debut graphic novel offering from fledgling publisher Liminal 11.  It’s a gentle, informative and ultimately uplifting tale that fits neatly into the publisher’s ‘mind, body and spirit’ ethos, and serves almost as much as an ‘how to’ guide as it does a narrative experience. Through Joanna’s eyes, we get to experience the intricacies and ceremony of Japanese Zen gardening and meditation, and are able to pick up some of the key tenets along the way.

Wilson has an authentic-sounding writing style, to the point where this almost feels like a first-hand account of the writer’s own experiences, with all the quirks and foibles – from the Japanese stranger on the plane with his broken English to the elderly man who helps her back home and his sceptical view of the fragility of ‘people these days’ – that really help to sell a story like this.

On the visual side of things, Obata’s artwork really helps to accentuate the calm, measured tone of the story, with a soft watercoloured style filled with greens and browns.  His characters are subtly expressive, and the scenes set in the garden itself are beautifully rendered.

The whole thing hangs together nicely, delivering a worthy message of mindfulness and the benefits of taking time to stop and appreciate what’s around you rather than always pushing forwards.  Joanna is a genuinely relatable protagonist, clearly flawed but always learning,  and her journey certainly a timely one, particularly given the feelings of isolation and helplessness a lot of us are almost certainly feeling right now.

If The Garden is an indication of what to expect from Liminal 11 in the future, I’m definitely going to be sticking around to see what they come up with next.

The Garden is available from the Liminal 11 webstore, priced £12.99 (CLICK HERE).

The writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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You can follow Ceej on Twitter

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