Monday, October 21, 2013

Sandcastle by Pierre Oscar Lévy & Frederik Peeters

I gotta say, I love that cover. It's beautifully done, disorienting, and the artist, Peeters, has a fine eye for composition.

Sandcastle is an interesting comic, a well done existential, low-key sci-fi comic. Though there's going to be a problem with this talk. I'm having a hard time doing this because if I tell you want Sandcaslte is about I ruin the surprise but I can't talk about Sandcastle without ruining the surprise. So, there will be a bit of spoilers up-ahead. You have been warned.

It's a beautiful sunny day at a secluded beach and a family is getting ready to enjoy their time at the beach. That seclusion is quickly destroyed by another invading family and a roaming Kabyle whose first impressions come off as a creeper. While they argue amongst themselves and each other, a dead body floats towards them; it's of a woman. After discovering that body, it's all downhill from there. More people start to come to the beach and discover there has been a murder. But after awhile they start realizing that it's not the body they should worry about but something else. There is something off about that beach and the mother of the first family recognizes it but only vaguely.
The problem is that the beach forwards time. Not only do the people on the beach age drastically faster, they can't escape it. No matter what they do, they are stuck there, aging until they die; "every half-hour is equivalent to a year of our lives."
She says it the best, they're all going to die no matter what they do. This comic is about exploring the ramifications and the psychology of death and what a person would do in that situation. Lévy and Peeters explore the mind of all their characters and how they would react and deal with. It is a marvelous character study that I have not seen in many comics.

Jesus, how terrifying of a thought is that? Knowing that you're going to die on a beach with strangers, no one will find you and that your children are going to meet the same fate you will. That your children are not going to have full lives and that their mental state will stay the same when they get older and not experience the wisdom and beauty of old age.
And that's what this comic is about; tackling the big issues like mortality, legacy, one's self and putting that in front of the reader. How would you deal with this? How do you deal with the idea of death? That, unlike the characters in this comic, you have the luxury of living a nice full life. Sandcastle holds no punches when dealing with these issues but Lévy & Peeters treat their characters in a somewhat kind light and let them die with some dignity. Sandcastle makes you think about your own mortality and it lingers in your mind.

This is all brought to life by Frederik Peeters. As you can tell from the images, he is a gifted artist. He knows how to use his B&Ws to create depth and emotion with. His characters are people with ambitions, emotions, lives, and they have all come to the realization they will never meet those goals and ambitions. So Peeters is able to portray that feeling of betrayal through his characters faces and expressions. At times draws them in a kind light and at other times in a terrible light, but never forgetting that these are living people who are face-to-face with their mortality.

I keep harkening mortality because it's something that hounds me everyday. I'm not one to believe in an afterlife and the idea of not existing anymore is terrifying. So I can, to an extent, understand what these characters are going through. Reading Sandcastle has had a lasting effect on me. It made me think about myself, of all the things I've accomplished and have not accomplished but plan to. And I like that. I like it when something forces me to think of a big issue like mortality and one's self.

Sandcastle is a comic that will linger in your mind for days and leaves a lasting impression. So I will leave you with this page. I don't know why I love it but I love it. There's something oddly beautiful about it.
Sandcastle is published by SelfMadeHero | $19.99 | ISBN: 9781906838386

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