AVAILABLE AT THOUGHT BUBBLE!
Faith Says You #1: It’s Dark Outside, self-published by Kate Brown, premieres at Thought Bubble and is a beautiful 128-page pebble of angst, love and all the questions we’re afraid to ask ourselves. Set in retro 90s coastal Britain where teenagers are only just discovering the communication revolution.
So Kate Brown, who you should know is 5 foot 3 inches tall, has been making awesome comics for over 10 years. You may know her from her work in Manga Shakespeare and other titles for SelfMadeHero, her work at the ever wonderful The Phoenix comic, for her stint as artist on The Wicked + The Divine, or Young Avengers et cetera, et cetera. This is her first outing as a Kickstarter-funded comic artist, if you spotted the Kickstarter you probably already backed it and have a copy, but if you missed it then Thought Bubble is the first place the books will be commercially available!
It’s super pink on the outside, super enticingly graphic and fantastical looking. To say the visuals inside are a contrast is to sell them short though; the soft pastel glow that permeates the interior of the book is equally satisfying as the vivid exterior. The characters are positively adorable. The speech bubbles are an enjoyable range of organic pebbly shapes that fit the gloomy seaside town where this story is set, and the breath of that sea air blows through the pages, making space, except for a lot of the time when it doesn’t because our protagonist doesn’t feel free, she feels trapped. Brown’s dance between that feeling of constriction and that feeling of falling that comes with fear and trauma makes the book instantly relatable, as does the 1990s mundanity of the setting (unless you’re too young to remember I guess).
Joanna has lived in this town her whole life, but she doesn’t fit there anymore, she’s stuck, left behind by her old friends and her boyfriend, no matter how hard he is trying to look after her. So far, so standard I suppose, but Joanna meets someone in the first few pages of the book who seems to have it worse than her. In the cave the locals call “the devil’s eye” which floods at high tide, Joanna finds a mysterious girl who claims to be both suicidal, and the messiah.
Thus begins a nicely spiky little allegorical exploration of faith and fear. Can this girl possibly be who she claims? Can she help Joanna? Can Joanna help her? Can anyone else see her? Can Joanna ever learn how to send an email, or how to be brave enough to see her friends?
The time setting puts us in that transition period between the pre-mobile phone and internet age (i.e. most of history, easier to write stories with actual intrigue in about) and the contemporary age of instant contact. Joanna has a little brick phone that receives text messages and runs out of credit, and she is wary of computers. What a time.
Joanna and her boyfriend Chris live in that technological precipice time, and on the precipice of growing up. She works as a cleaner in a hotel whereas he is going to sixth form college. An unknown trauma in Joanna’s past lurks half spoken of in their relationship, which clearly has a rich history. By not spelling these things out Brown enhances the tension of the couple’s interaction with a sense that there are things they are unwilling or unable to speak of, as they try to pretend everything is normal. She also does not tell him about her new mysterious, possibly divine, friend.
Although technically a period piece, Faith Says You says a lot about the things we don’t tell each other, even in this world we live in now where communication seems so much easier. This series promises at least two more parts, so lots more room to explore these ideas and characters – I can’t wait. In the meantime check Kate’s stall out at Thought Bubble, or order from her website shortly after. You can see a preview of the first 12 pages here.
Kate Brown (W/A) • Self-published. Kate Brown will be in the Originals Marquee 9-10