The post apocalyptic genre is a growing setting for a comic narrative in recent media. In concept, it can bring a strong balance between reality and fiction, presenting a distinct glimpse of a possible future. If used effectively, it can question the reader about what they have now and what they need to live. It can bring destruction to our homes, our best friends into savage killers, and nature becoming the hunter, killing its human prey. David Lumsden‘s The Boat, follows a conventional narrative in key events and structure, but make no mistake; it creates strong family relationships, inner conflict and a fleeting sense of hope and despair in so few pages that it will both grip and horrify you, pressuring you to read that next page.
The natural disaster weather chosen is (unsurprisingly) flooding and storms, wiping cities and skyscrapers into an endless void of water and emptiness. In this grim world we come across a man and his son, merely attempting to survive with the dwindling resources they have, and the rules they have forced themselves to live by; “one goes in, one stays with the boat. 15 minutes. Never wait. Just go. Survival”. These haunting words dictate their actions and their decisions, and all the consequences that come with them. The son still trembles with fear and innocence in this world, his father however, has truly embraced his reality and maybe even the insanity as well. His constant debates with himself over protecting his son or leaving him to fend for himself is a bone-chilling thought, making the dark scenes feel even more sinister, yet he still attempts to justify the choice. The back and forth in flashbacks raises questions more that answers, as it soon becomes clear that there is only one man in the boat, with a gun with only one bullet left. What fate has befallen this family? And can the last one standing be saved?
From the moment you witness the first page you fully understand the dark nature of this comic through its artistic choice, brought to paper by Mark Weallans. Clearly influenced by the graphic novels style, the monotone colours feel as though the colours of life have completely drained from the world, and the bleak emotions shared amongst our characters have dulled their vision. The pages appear as if created by water colours, making the brace of darkness appear unique and interesting to view, and darkness is everywhere like an everlasting fog. Along with the colour palette (or lack there of), the level of detail and subtle subplots sprinkled throughout the narrative keep you mentally engaged and offers insight into the past events of this world. This is achieved by certain items and character actions possessing a sense of meaning and routine to our duo that develops backstories and even worse experiences.
The Boat itself is safety zone and the closest they have to a home in the desolate world, the gun and two bullets as their means of a way out, although it may only be seen that way by the father. Scribbled messages and coordinates on the boat and even Charlie’s skin act as cautionary tales and warnings to themselves, a grim reminder of their dwindling options for survival. All come together to present a pair that have literally went through hell and continue to live in it.
Whilst a grim tale in a grim setting, The Boat raises the necessary questions and ideas that keep it an engaging and dark read from start to finish. The story feels cliche at times, and may often feel like it follows conventional story devices closely such as isolation, monologues and a run in with raiders , the necessary risks it takes with its darker tone and colour palette keeps you going and constantly engaged. But our journey with this story is far from over. As the story ends to a possible haven of safety, what new and unfortunate events will before our survivor? And may we possibly meet other survivors? Only time will tell in Volume 2, which may or may not be reviewed soon…
Have you read the Boat? What did you think? Sound off in the comments or send us your thoughts on Twitter!