Review: Island #6

The latest issue of Island is worth grabbing for Gael Bertrand's story alone, but has a couple of other features that will appeal, depending on your tastes. Gael Bertrand has been doing episodes of "A land called Tarot" in the pages of Island, and the latest is the best yet. "Tarot" is a wordless adventure, so the entire reading experience leans on the visual storytelling ability of the artist. Bertrand does not disappoint in this regard. He is wildly imaginative, and is able to harness one-of-a-kind story premises for moments of laughter, suspense, and awe.

Island-#6-1The lack of words is a tremendous boon to the story, both because it allows Bertrand's colorful and kinetic art to breathe, and because the lack of words leaves the reader a lot of room to imagine the circumstances of this story for themselves. I think that some stories would flounder in their own vagueness without the aid of words, but Bertrand's world is just so open and imaginative that reading the story and imagining in collaboration with Bertrand's art is encouraged rather than punished.

Sarah Horrocks is a favorite critic of mine. When discussing comics, Horrocks has a way of carving a path straight to her point, and then dredging up heaps and heaps of evidence in favor of her interpretation until you come away feeling like, whether you agreed with her or not, your opinion of the work is in some way deeply influenced by what she had to say.

Here in Island, she has a brief two page comic essay (that is, an essay which is itself in comic form) about the depiction of corpses in the work of Kyoko Okazaki. Actually publishing criticicsm within an anthology, even if it were in plain text alone, is more than welcome, especially if that criticism is of Horrocks' caliber. But doing so in a comic format is in keeping with Island's unique place on the shelves as being one of the few titles willing to actually try new goddamn things. My enjoyment is slightly limited by the fact that I'm not familiar with Kyoko Okazaki's work. Still, I think the length is appropriate, the information is there, and I completley fucking adore the juxtaposition of Horrocks' own interpretation of Okazaki's art over the art itself in the midst of discussing the work.

The first big chunk of this issue, before Bertrand's work, is "Badge of Pride" by the Japanese artist ONTA. Put simply, it's a comic about furries. It has a lot more to it however: it's about queerness, friendship, being proud of who you are, and finding a way to fit in when all of those things require a lot of work given the society around you. As a straight white dude who will always be slightly confused by the mere concept of furries, I don't know if I'm the most qualified to write about this. I will say, though, that I thought it was a cute little story, and I thought ONTA did a good job depicting a main character that was easy to empathize with, independent of his particular orientation or species.

Score: 4/5

Island #6 Writers: Various Artists: Various Publisher: Image Comics Price: $7.99 Format:Mini-Series;  Print/Digital Website