By Dustin Cabeal
I wanted to check this book out based on the title. It was quirky and strange and seemed like it would be a fun read. The story is actually autobiographical. It follows creator Sophie Yanow’s trip to Iceland.
There’s a lot of anxiety about the end of the world/our dying planet that at first starts off as a sprinkle in the tale and then becomes what most of the story is about. In-between this is some relationship struggles which tie into the entire purpose of the trip and are probably part of the deeper underlying issue of the end of the world.
The narration is well-written. There’s a flow to it, and Yanow guides you through the story. It’s quite masterful with its pacing. You’re never bogged down by any one scene, and though there’s a lot of talk about the end of the planet, it keeps a steady pace so that it’s not the only thing you’re hearing.
The artwork is enjoyable. It’s detailed and yet has a European style to it in that it lacks a lot of details. It's what is there and what isn’t that makes it impressive and skilled. There is some variety in styles depending on what’s happening in the story, but the characters are always consistent. That and it was refreshing to see it broken up from time to time.
Overall I was left horribly depressed by the story. I don’t think I would read another collection from Yanow without some details of the story. Also, I wasn’t particular interested in the slice of life moments and how they were presented. Granted, it’s a person’s real life and it’s not like mine is exciting 24/7, but that’s what makes great autobiographical stories stand out, the pieces they collect and present are inviting to readers. By the end of What is a Glacier it was as if the I had only heard information about how the planet is doomed and basically yolo. Not that I was expecting this comic to solve that problem, but I sure as shit wasn’t expecting to be depressed by the problem as much as I was.
Some people might find this comic pretty enjoyable and may not be as depressed, but it’s one of those things, that once you notice it, you can’t stop noticing it. Which is covered in the comic as well. While I enjoyed reading it once, I doubt I would pick it up again, but I can appreciate the craft and skill that went into it. It’s not perfect, but it’s close.
What is a Glacier?
Creator: Sophie Yanow
Publisher: Retrofit/Big Planet