Review: Sky in Stereo Vol. 1

I’m still not sure how I 100% feel about Sky in Stereo. I enjoyed reading it. Hell, I even wanted to read more when I got to the conclusion. I wasn’t in love with a big chunk of the subject matter though and because of that a great deal of the story was lost on me. Spoilers, a lot of the story is about drugs and drug use. The rest of the story is spent on religion, relationships and work. These are the areas that I really related to and enjoyed. I do give credit to creator Mardou for syncing these elements together and never really letting the drug elements overwhelm the story. At least until the end.

The story follows a young woman named Iris. It kicks off with her mom’s boyfriend Doug messing with some Jehovah’s Witnesses. This is quite literally the catalyst for the story as the Witnesses come back and eventually recruit Iris’ mother. Iris, wanting to please her mom begins attending with her. But after a while she’s faced with the decision of continuing to please her mother or being true to herself. Ultimately she parts ways with the Witnesses, but her mother continues on.

We begin to follow Iris’ dating life as she’s about to graduate high school and breaks up with her boyfriend. Mostly because he thinks she should leave him behind and go to better school and is planning on breaking up with her. Ultimately this breakup seems to keep her from going to the college that she wanted to go to, which puts her on a different path in life.

From there we follow her everyday life pretty closely. We see her switch jobs and crush on one of her co-workers. He knows she likes him and it’s pretty obvious that he likes the attention and leads her on a bit. This is also when the drug use starts to kick in more and more. It all leads up to Iris taking acid and while having a great experience at first, she eventually stops sleeping and isn’t the Iris that we’ve come to know in the story.

Sky in Stereo Vol 1Again, the drug use wasn’t for me. I don’t relate to it and so even having it as well placed and spaced as it was, it was still too much for me. Particularly at the end when it was the focal point of the story. Though I will say that I was curious to see where the story was heading and enjoyed the preview of the second volume. The content didn’t deter me from wanting to read more, which is as positive as I can be about it.

Mardou’s narration is wonderful. She paces the story quite well making every page feel intimate and personal. I have no idea if this is a personal story at all, but it feels like it. Iris feels like a real person and that’s a tremendous feat to accomplish in a comic. The story doesn’t rely on dialogue all the time which is nice. It makes the dialogue much more effective when it is used.

The art is in all black and white. I’ve noticed that when it comes to slice of life or autobiographical comics (again, I don’t know if this story is autobiographical), that black and white is the go-to choice for creators. Mardou’s style is realistic looking, but stylized. You feel like the story is set in the real world which is very important, but then it has this look about it that tells you it’s a comic.

The linework is very clean. The inking doesn’t overpower the page and yet the comic manages to have rich and full backgrounds when needed. Mardou usually establishes a setting with a lot of detail and then will pull back and focus on the characters in the scene. It’s a very wise art direction as you can visualize the rest of the conversation in the setting. Granted there are other scenes in which you always see detailed backgrounds and such, but it’s the balance of when you don’t that’s really impressive.

Again, stories about drugs and drug use are not my cup of tea. Typically, I wouldn’t be back for more, but I’m actually pretty hooked on Sky in Stereo. I know that part of it is the art because I just enjoyed it too much to stop reading, but a lot of it came from the pacing and narration. Even when I was frustrated with Iris, I still cared about her and wanted to see how she was going to come out of things in the end. We’ll have to keep reading to find that out.

I wouldn’t exactly say this story falls into the romance genre, but if you like stories that deal with life (and that includes relationships) then you should definitely check out Sky in Stereo.

Score: 4/5

Sky in Stereo Vol. 1 Writer/Artist/Creator: Mardou Publisher: Revival House Press Price: $17.95 Release Date: 10/13/15 Format: TPB; Print