Comics Features Reviews

As Cryptic As it is Evocative, The Seas Mystifies You

The Seas maps out its poetic mission in a frank, uncompromising manner. The first anthology edited by zine reviewer Iestyn Pettigrew and published through his own imprint Body Parts (and currently crowdfunding on Kickstarter for a print edition), it’s a lucid, spiritual endeavour that brings together numerous creators of different genders and geographies to comment and reflect on the oceans’ qualities as a metaphor for humanity’s introspective tendencies.

At least, I think that’s what The Seas sets out to accomplish. When reading the anthology, there’s something separate that’s more immediate and lends the anthology a cohesive flavour. Instead of offering a solid interpretation of making sense of our inner thoughts, The Seas accomplishes a more tangible reaction with its feelings, rather than its reflections. It’s a comic that prioritises mood, with its numerous creators manipulating colour, shape and narrative to evoke distinct, numerous emotions, depending on the strip in question.

The oceans are represented as many things; caressing, calm, torrential, destructive, nightmarish, cleansing. There’s no single feeling locked into The Seas; each creator brings something wholly distinct to the anthology, giving The Seas an invigorating flavour when read from cover to cover. There’s a sense that Pettigrew has let his contributors sail with creative freedom across these sequential seas, making The Seas as inviting as its impenetrable.

An awkward aspect about being a reviewer of comics is that it’s often difficult to provide a succinct and substantial reading into an experimental work. Several strips in The Seas are particularly experimental, to the point where it’s nigh impossible probe into them, to unbox and scrutinise them. Perhaps, then, it’s just as well that The Seas is so quietly confident in its abilities to conjure forth a variety of tangible, aforementioned feelings. Some comics aren’t there to be prodded, they’re there to be viewed, to provoke a reaction. Each strip in The Seas does just that. Often, the anthology’s strongest moments are when it doesn’t say anything at all. A handful of strips are brief, wordless explorations that have a muted yet taught quality about them.

The Seas is a slow-burning, methodical collection of some sharply cerebral creations. It requires numerous readings in order to comprehend its genre-less mechanics, but it’s assured in its alluring tone. The success of its own creativity is perhaps down to the reader’s individual interpretations of these stories. The breadth of visual styles and narrative themes at play in The Seas is a hugely welcoming aspect. There’s no danger of any one idea being repeated in this anthology, no danger of anything being predictable, even when the qualities of those ideas can be an intensely subjective experience.

Will you be journeying into the oceanic unknown with The Seas on Kickstarter? Let us know in the comments section below or send us a Tweet!

About the author

Fred McNamara