Friday, 1 February 2013

Swoon Now! The Silver Darlings

As I write this the weather is cold and wet. People outside are pulling those bulldog-chewing-a-wasp faces against the icy spray.  They're the perfect conditions to be reflecting on a wonderful book by the name of The Silver Darlings (Blank Slate) by Will Morris.  Set in 1967 on the Scottish coast of Ayrshire, we follow young Danny as he a endures a last summer fishing with his father's crew, before the golden dawn of college that awaits.  The fishing life is clearly not for him: physically he struggles with sea-sickness and the manual labour.  But he is also at odds with the superstitious ways of fishermen and he sees the chance to expose their beliefs to gain the approval of his father.

With the fishing business in decline the themes of modernisation and ideology sway as violently as the wonderfully rendered stormy waters.  But this is not a story hinging on melodramatic incident - as we've seen before in fiction, the dangers at sea are a great leveller and Morris's obvious intention is to keep the story grounded (in a manner of speaking).

Along with the subtlety in the storytelling, the greyscaled watercolours are stars of the show.  In his first full-length graphic novel (he was one of the illustrators to contribute to the Nelson book) Will Morris's style is both vaguely familiar but utterly arresting and displays a confidence in his storytelling that marks him as a real talent to watch.  And you can do just that on both his website and his blog here and here

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