Indie creator Rozi Hathaway is back for more on AP2HYC with her latest offering Cosmos & Other Stories. Those of us fortunate enough to have read her previous entry here, Ø, will know that Hathaway is more than capable of bringing out the lonely 11-year old inside all of us, and her newest book is no exception. The story is a collection of comic vignettes that run the gambit of human loss and anxiety before leaving the reader on an uplifting note about seeking the wonderful things that exist in the world.
It’s not exactly Chicken Soup for the Soul, but the it’s a story that encourages self reflection. Rather than simply making the reader feel uplifted about life, it pushes them towards stepping out of whatever happens to have them down. Maybe that special someone is just around the corner, only one way to find out. Maybe the world is full of colour instead of being a mess of gray, won’t know unless you look for it. The narrative can be heartbreaking at times and life-affirming at others, but it’s a difficult story to look at and have no reaction to.
The artwork serves to reinforce this, as it evolves to match the theme of each vignette while still working in the overall scheme of the book. The colour scheme in particular is used heavily to reinforce the theme of each vignette on a deeper level. In a story about finding the magic in the world, for example, a single point of colour in an otherwise gray panel will expand slowly over the course of the story until it eventually comes to dominate each panel. The entire book is filled with all sorts of creative uses of colour, each one working perfectly in concert with the storytelling. The artwork itself reflects Hathaway’s usual style and possesses an esoteric, quasi-abstract, dreamlike quality that matches well in most of the stories. Unfortunately it doesn’t quite fit into some of the more grounded, realistic vignettes that comprise the overall narrative and it would have been nice to see the line work evolve the way the colour scheme did. That being said, it’s an easily overlooked criticism.
Such nitpicks aside, it’s an emotional journey. That may not be what everyone is looking for in a comic, but it knows what kind of book it is and executes it very well. It isn’t the sort of thing you’re going to find from DC and Marvel and it’s perfectly comfortable that way. In fact, it’s the sort of project that very easily wouldn’t get published in more mainstream comics. The story it tells is one that can only be told through a comic, due largely to the creative use of colour and panel arrangement. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, per se, but it’s definitely something worth going outside your comfort zone for, and a chance to see a cleverly executed thematic narrative.
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