What would you do if you lose the memories you treasure the most? When they’re wiped away without a trace? Will you scream at the heavens for its cruelty? Maybe drown yourself in the loneliness that oh-so-tightly clings to your chest? Or desperately carve your nails against wood in pursuit of what’s lost? For Mr. Lethe, only the third option makes sense.
Fishing Memories by Miguel Peres is a nostalgic tale of loss. It revolves around Mr. Lethe fishing for ‘memories’ from the sea of a deserted island. He doesn’t know where he is nor how and when he got there. All he knows is that it was never always like this. He once had a family, a career – a life that was more than just aimless wander. But for some reason, he just can’t match a name to a face. It’s almost like every page in his book of life is torn and burned to a crisp.
Amidst the sea of unknown, he does recognize a few bits of who he once was as a person. He was but a simple, hardworking man who loved his family more than anything in the world. Hence why, when he discovers that he can fish out memory fragments with a pomegranate bait—don’t ask—he goes ahead and does just that. He gathers the ‘memory shards’ and runs to a peculiar cave with carved human and animal heads. For a while, he actually gets to escape. Next thing he knows, he wakes up to lunch with his wife and daughter.
Unfortunately, these moments don’t last longer than a few hours. Before he knows it, a disaster forcibly drags him back to the lonely island. The cycle continues, and it never ends. We quickly realize that this seemingly odd phenomenon isn’t as fantastical as it seems. Mr. Lethe, although strict and assertive, has a mind that wavers at every breath. One time, he rejoices upon seeing his daughter Amphi, only to later claim he needs to pick her up from school – even though she’s right beside him. He remembers things that should be, but doesn’t recognize what it is right at the moment. But what completes our picture are the distressed faces of his family. A brilliant reflection of the life of a patient of dementia.
Peres illustrates the mind in a magnificent way. There’s dissociation as Mr. Lethe shifts back to the lonely island. He highlights longing with Mr. Lethe’s desperate attempts to remember or travel back to where he should be. Then there’s helplessness as our protagonist starts to lose control over his own self and sanity. Peres chooses the best scenes to paint the tragedy in our minds for both Mr. Lethe and his family. Because of this, it’s impossible for us to blame anything but his sickness. I also commend the comic’s pace. Peres drags the panels of Mr. Lethe’s thoughts and speeds up on moments with his family to show how quickly his memories come and go; how his illness forces him back to living only with himself against his will, yet tortures him with temporary lucidness.
Majory Yokomizo‘s art is one of my favorite things. It’s safe to say that nobody else would’ve given this story justice like her. She uses a watercolor painting style and incorporates faded, dull tones and shaky lines. It’s so much as if Mr. Lethe draws it himself. This amplifies the ‘dream-like’ state of the comic. It’s similar to how Mr. Lethe confuses reality and fantasy because of his frequent dissociation. At the same time, she draws other objects or people in better detail than others. I perceive this as her attempt to emphasize the things that Mr. Lethe values. They’re the little things he wants us readers to remember for him.
Overall, Fishing Memories definitely deserves a spot in your collection. Albeit not being an angst fanatic myself, I easily find myself drifting away throughout the read. The emotional core of the story is quite unbelievable. You get to see firsthand how it is to lose your precious memories without even knowing it. I don’t recognize any major flaws as all imperfections in art and dialogue fit perfectly with the theme. Rather, these flaws are intentional to better mimic a person’s imperfect life.
Want to go on an emotional rollercoaster of feelings? Have a huge craving for some angst? Can relate to having a relative who suffers from memory loss? If your answer to all of that is yes, then that’s your sign to get a copy of Fishing Memories on BlueFox Comics. Don’t forget to share your thoughts in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter!