Manchester-based comic creator and illustrator Aly Fell has just launched a crowdfunding campaign for The Kissing Gate, a follow-up to A Trick of the Light, the award-winning graphic novel/comic he published in 2021. The crowdfunder for the beautiful-looking graphic novel has, deservedly, smashed it initial target.
A 64 page book in black and white, with some pages in colour, The Kissing Gate is an original story, which takes partial inspiration from British girls’ comics, but also from novels and films such as The Amazing Mr Blunden, The Secret Garden and The Railway Children.
“As with my earlier book, I’ve attempted to capture the mood and atmosphere of a time and a place, yet in this case it’s set over a period of about 30 years,” says Aly, “from the 1920s to the 1950s, and told mostly in flashback.
Beginning in 1957, The Kissing Gate tells the story of Alice Eaton. As an adult, she returns to the home she left in 1936 where, as a girl, she spent one long dreamlike summer in the company of the enigmatic ‘Sophie’. She revisits a time half-remembered and a life half-forgotten; a place she left under tragic circumstances. It is a story of childhood and loss, and learning how friendships can be discovered in the unlikeliest of places.
The story is told mainly through the eyes of the younger Alice and her relationships with those around her…
Aly Fell is an illustrator and comic artist with many years experience in various creative industries, including traditional animation, computer games and books. He created The Shadow Glass, a graphic novel published by Dark Horse in 2016, and his first Kickstarter was A Trick of the Light in 2022, which won the 2023 ComicScene Best Crowdfunder award, and was runner up in Best Original Graphic Novel.
Aly likes to tell his own stories, usually with a spooky or magickal angle, generally focusing on female characters.
As with the previous book, the story, art and lettering for The Kissing Gate are solely Aly’s work. “It’s self-contained with no sequel planned,” Aly says. “Thematically, it sits next to A Trick of the Light, but is independent of that as a story.
“The Kissing Gate evolved as stories often do, from a smaller idea,” Aly reveals. “I always knew I was going to write a ghost story, but it changed considerably as ‘Alice’, the main character developed. I realised the majority of the story had to be told from the point of view of an adult looking back at their childhood, and then through the eyes of that child. It’s not a ‘big’ story. It’s a fraction of a life. An echo.
“As with A Trick of the Light and its central stone circle, The Kissing Gate also features a landscape object, a totemic symbol that echoes with ambiguity, in this case a tree. Elements like this are important to me and reflect my interest in the landscape and how we should honour it.”
The Kissing Gate will be available in two editions: a soft cover, 210mm X 280mm, in keeping with the format of the soft cover of A Trick of the Light, and an A4 hard cover, similar in size to European albums such as Tintin. There will also be a very limited number of soft and hard cover editions that will include a separate A4 pencil sketch of one of the characters from the book (to be chosen by Aly).
“There aren’t a lot of ‘extras’,” Aly notes. “The book is my priority. However, there will be the option of including A Trick of the Light soft-cover as an add-on at check-out, for those that didn’t get a copy first time around, and possibly some prints of character art. Depending on how the campaign goes, I may add a couple of pages of roughs in an appendix to the book as I did with A Trick of the Light.”
• Check out The Kissing Gate here on Kickstarter
• Aly Fell is online at darkrising.co.uk | Facebook | Twitter
• Buy The Shadow Glass from AmazonUK (Affiliate Link)
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