Created by Alexis Deacon
Out: Now (1st June 2016)
Published by NoBrow – www.noborow.net
Hardcover. Full Colour. £15.99
The Story: The ruler of the land has died. During the night fifty possible heirs to his throne are gathered in the palace. As they sit there, wondering why they have been called so late at night, a ghostly figure rises from the dead King’s body and forms into the shape of a sinister demon like creature.
This demon scatters the attendees to the four winds and the four corners of the kingdom. They are instructed to find their way back to the castle before “the light of the next dawn” or they won’t be in the running for the crown. What actually happens is much more sinister…..The Review: Geis – A Matter of Life and Death starts as if the reader is being sucked into a gentle fairy tale; one with breathtaking art and fully painted pages but, initially, a gentle fairy tale nonetheless. The cover is gorgeous and depicts a young girl character from the story in a messy and dark library holding a lamp. Then, about two pages into the story, Alexis Deacon gives you a visual pinch. It makes you jump a tiny bit – and you begin to realise that this is a bit darker a story than you originally expected…
“Geis – A Gaelic word for taboo or curse…”
As the characters are flung here and there after the demon’s appearance, they have to struggle and scrabble and fight to survive and find their way through the different environments of the land to win the prize. Some will not survive – and everyone has their own agenda.
Geis – A Matter of Life and Death is a story has an ever-growing sinister edge to it, and it is never what you thought it might be. At times, it strays into the horrific and life is cheap. The characters are never the normal square-jawed heroes normal of many a fantasy story – rather they are courtesans, Lords and Ladies, Conjurers, family men, farmers and even a young princess with a special skill (but I’m not going to tell you what).
The art in this book is absolutely gorgeous. It is a full meal in respect of small personal moments, as well as fully realised splash pages. We see excellent moments of character, as well as big wide shots of the landscapes of mountains and castles. Thanks to Alexis skill at conveying emotion in his characters, which he does brilliantly throughout, everyone in this unreal and magical story has a true sense of realistic reaction to their situation.
The colouring has the quality of a washed out lithograph but remains rich and absorbing, an approach which gives the pages a retro quality that suits the subject matter perfectly.
Alexis Deacon is an London-based illustrator. His children’s book, Slow Loris, was listed last year by Time magazine as one of the hundred best children’s books, ever. He has twice been shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal and is a two time recipient of The New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books Award. In 2008, he was chosen by Booktrust as one of the ten best new illustrators of the preceding decade.
In 2014 The River won the Observer/Jonathan Cape/Comica Graphic Short Story Prize.
• You can find more out about Alexis Deacon and see some more art from this beautiful comic at his blog here
• If you fancy meeting the creator and buying a copy of Geis: A Matter of Life and Death along with some of his other work there is a launch at the mighty Gosh Comics, 1 Berwick Street, Soho, London on Saturday 4th June between 7.00 and 9.00pm
Many thanks for reading.
Antony Esmond is a comic reviewer and writer – his hips don’t lie.