THOUGHT BUBBLE 2023! Wrapping up universal human truths in the trappings of genre fiction is a tried and tested storytelling device for communicating recognisable emotional states on a profoundly empathetic level. Faye Stacey’s Find a Seat, part of the 2023 publishing line-up from the highly regarded Quindrie Press, uses that technique in a story of loss, acceptance, and remembering the important parts of our lives.
In Find a Seat we meet Morgan, who has just broken up with her girlfriend, and is travelling home alone at night. But the train she gets on isn’t the one she was expecting. Rather it’s a supernatural vehicle belonging to Death itself and populated by a horde of otherworldly passengers, some seemingly human but others monstrous or bizarre in appearance. For Morgan to escape and return to her normal life she will need to beat Death at their own game or be trapped within the train forever…
Stacey’s story acts as an allegory about not giving up, looking to the future and holding onto the things that matter. Death’s train becomes a metaphor for the opposite – for giving up, retreating into a cocoon of protective inaction, and hiding from our fears. The interiors of the carriages are depicted an eerie otherworld full of strange flora, fungi and wretched beings, only hastening our fears for the likelihood of Morgan’s success.
Stacey’s character design and their imaginative realisation of this claustrophobically charged environment are key here but their sequential storytelling is also excellent throughout, with page and panel structures varying to speed up or slow down our interaction with the story where necessary, and changes in our perspective of the carriage reminding us constantly of its cramped environs. There’s a particularly effective scene early on with a phone app that says so much more about Morgan’s feelings of hurt than any dialogue ever could. A rare example of visualising technology in an effective way to enhance the story at a point where that is becoming an increasingly trite narrative device in comics.
Quindrie Press’s output has been one of the highlights of the last few years in British comics. Make sure to check out their books at Thought Bubble this year.
Faye Stacey (W/A) • Quindrie Press. £8.00
Quindrie Press are at Table C7 and Faye Stacey is at Table C11 in the Dstlry Hall at Thought Bubble 2023
Review by Andy Oliver