Created by Jon McNaught
Hardback – 128 pages – £16.99
Published by Nobrow
The Story: Jon McNaught returns with another beautiful comic that makes the ordinary, extraordinary. A family sets off for a long weekend at a caravan park on the British coast. We follow them through the familiar landscapes of a summer holiday: motorway service stations, windswept cliffs, dilapidated museums and tourist giftshops. In this atmospheric and contemplative work, Jon McNaught explores the rhythms of nature, the passing of time, and the beauty and boredom of a summer holiday.
Have we all felt this way?
Have we all been in these moments?
A family on holiday in a seaside town. They make the most of their time. The mum drags the kids around museums and seaside tourist spots. The son loses himself in the coastline and at moments alone or with people he sees, eavesdrops on or meets. It is a little sad, profoundly quiet, a lot familiar and an awful lot impressive.
Nobrow and Jon McNaught do this so well. They capture a moment, a feeling, a place, a face, a time so brilliantly well in their books. Genuinely without hyperbole this is one of the best things I have read over the last twelve months. Insightful, sensitive, hypnotic and gloriously a comic.
I remember as a kid on this exact same holiday. Of course, I’m far too old to remember being frustrated looking for a phone signal whilst wandering over rock pools or up hills but the feeling this book projects gave me shivers nonetheless. Another world at the end of the motorway. As the rain comes down you hear it on the roof of their caravan and the following morning as the daughter wades lonely through the deep puddles you can feel the air as it clears as the day begins anew.
“…we spend our lives searching for a magic door and a lost kingdom of peace.” – Eugene O’Neill.
As a kid I’d head on holiday with my parents. Long and almost endless journeys down the side roads and highways of England sitting in the back of my parents’ estate car with just a comic for company and looking forward to the next wee break. The breaks on the trip for a fizzy drink and maybe a toy if you were lucky are described perfectly here by McNaught.
I have to admit that I was totally entranced by the beautiful art and the melancholic and never overly sentimental story. It is a book of realistically few words but some complicated emotions are displayed slowly over a period of days. The frustration of the journey, the family dynamic, the saving money, the bickering.
I also have to admit that I found this an emotional read. It speaks to the loneliness of people on levels you rarely see in comics. Slowly building that picture of three members of a family with such realism it’ll bring a lump to your throat.
The mother and the son and daughter come across as totally real and you understand their lives from this little emotional Polaroid photo album of a graphic novel. The slow pace is never a problem, rather it is a strength. With at moments up to thirty-five panels on a page the progression of movement and story only exemplifies the feelings projected up to the reader from the deeply carved pages. Then you see a landscape or a sea or a long lamp lit road as a splash page. ‘This is now, this is here!’ We know these moments all too well.
As I stare at the art on show here I am at once instantly in love with the craftsmanship and totally confused at how this level of accomplishment is created. The pages have a linocut look to them but are more measured, never clinical but with none of the Lino cut trademarked double edges and accidental overlapping. The lights on the motorway give away the shapes of maybe a knife that carves them but the water and sea and reflective rain puddles are far more detailed. It is absolutely breathtaking!
Jon McNaught graduated from the University of the West of England in 2007 with a degree in illustration. He now lives in Bristol where he works as a print maker and a freelance illustrator. He has contributed stories and art to Nobrow, Art Review and Stripburger.
Many thanks for reading.
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Antony Esmond is a comic reviewer and writer – his hips don’t lie.