That Salty Air

by Tim Sievert

Publisher: Top Shelf Productions

Format: Softcover, black &white, $10.00

ISBN: 978-1-60309-005-6

Reviewed by: Publishers Weekly


Sievert's first graphic novel is a small, understated fable about Hugh, a fisherman who learns that his mother has drowned. Deciding that the sea has become his enemy, he sets out to teach it a lesson. Of course, the sea is more powerful than Hugh imagined, and his journey involves a torrential storm, a whale, a giant squid and a series of emotional revelations. The story’s sentimental twists aren't exactly subtle; its dialogue is mostly undiluted melodrama, and its conclusion is a predictable heartstring-tugger. But the metaphors for grief and depression are given life by Sievert's deliberate, accomplished pacing. Almost every page is partly or entirely wordless, and he lets long, elegantly composed sequences of people and animals quietly interacting with their environments, or images of the land and sea and sky, establish the mood and tone of each scene. The book's also full of subtle formalist tricks, like a house window whose frame cuts off the edges of a speech balloon. There's certainly room for growth in Sievert's cartooning—his facility with light and shade, as well as the deliciously blobby lines he uses for sea creatures in the nature scenes, give way to hurried, Craig Thompson–lite caricature when he draws human characters—but he's a talent to watch.