First Second, 2008 (2008)
Reviewed by Lance Victor Eaton
n a virtual Eden, Louis, his wife Lise, and their son Joachim live an idle and rewarding life in the countryside; appreciating the little things in life, each other, and the natural world around them. But then three shadows appear on the horizon. The three shadows won't go away and no matter how many times Louis chases after them, they always disappear, only to return. Joachim has become particularly afraid of them as it becomes apparent they want him. When a psychic tells them that the three shadows will not leave until they take Joachim with them, Louis is devastated and decides to risk everything to save his child.
e leaves with Joachim to escape the approaching shadows and travels far and wide to avoid them, but they always appear on the horizon. When he believes he has gotten far enough away, he meets a man who will strike a deal with him, but can the man guarantee Joachim's safety? Like any proper father, Louis offers himself up in lieu of his son, but no deal with the devil is every that easy.
edrosa tells an amazingly simple yet powerful allegory of a family grappling with the death of a child. Part of her skill lies in setting up the beautiful and picturesque world in which we find Louis, Lise and Joachim. In a mere few panels and few words, Pedrosa makes it clear that they indeed live in a wonderful place. It's the arrival of the three shadows that mars the weather, causes them to lock their doors, and produces a general feeling of anxiety throughout the house. But more than just death, the three shadows and their impending doom seem to really represent innocence lost which can be seen so much in Louis' attempts to shelter young Joachim from the shadows.
edrosa's art creates an ethereal and almost magical resonance to the story. Much of the art relies on charcoal drawings and backgrounds contrasting with simple yet defined characters. It feels simplistic but as the reader pays it a second read, the simple elegance gives way to more nuanced efforts and decisions on his behalf. As stories go, this is a universal one that could be enjoyed by all readers, children and adult, male and female. Pedrosa's sparse wording and sometimes sparse drawings mesh together to provide an engaging and wonderful story that is anything but sparse.
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