Comics Features Reviews

“Breakwater” Is Bittersweet And Beautiful

So many readers come to fiction to escape. They long for an epic journey that sweeps them away, or a fantasy world that offers them boundless adventure. As valuable as these works can be, there’s something equally special about a fictional piece that mirrors the world beyond the page.

Katriona Chapman’s Breakwater is styled like a noir movie set in modern day Brighton. There’s no damsel in distress, no mysterious gentleman smoking in a bar corner. What Breakwater offers instead is the mundane joys and trials of adult life; service industry jobs, cheap drinks, work friends, and dreams deferred. The comic follows several indie cinema employees: Chris, a woman with much delayed ambitions to become a social worker, Dan, a man with a rocky past looking for a fresh start, and Craig, a slovenly sixteen year old and high school dropout.

As Dan begins his new job at Breakwater Cinema, the familiar, charcoaled struggles immerses the readers. It is a world of bad bosses, problematic parents, and good friends. Breakwater opens discussions on how deeply we affect the people around us. As Dan and Chris grow closer as friends, they become forced to navigate each other’s pasts and problems. Breakwater asks its characters and readers just how much time and sacrifice can you give to the people around you. It’s a difficult, often painful, question that Breakwater handles marvelously.

Breakwater is a comic for art enthusiasts. Sketchy and minimal, Chapman does a wonderful job of portraying complex emotion in her characters with just a few grey streaks. Chapman has an eye for detail, and it is specifically at work where the detail is most needed. She splits the story into several vignettes that she intersperses with gorgeously rendered landscapes of Brighton. Most scenes are enclosed within standard panels. However, when a scene is literally outside the box, it’s clearly an intentional choice from the artist. This makes Breakwater even more thought provoking.

Chris, Dan, and company don’t face movie villains, instead they cope with the challenges that come with being an adult in today’s world. Their struggles and joys are very familiar, making Breakwater even more bittersweet. This is a story for people who love slow-paced media and expressive art. This is for those who want to read something that lingers with them for the rest of the day. Still, fans of fast-paced action comics may want to steer clear. The same goes to anyone looking for a comic that leaves them with a warm fuzzy feeling—Breakwater is not that comic. But for anyone looking to see adulthood beautifully and accurately represented, look no further than Breakwater.

Breakwater will be out on November 12 in the UK and November 11 in the USA. It can be purchased in shops at release or through Avery Hill Publishing. If you have any thoughts on Breakwater, let us know down the comments below. You can also send us your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter!

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Hannah Emilius

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