I love Hollywood movies, but when I want something a little different, I watch foreign films. Brazil makes great action films, and France makes great historical films.
What if you like comics and you’re looking for something a little different? It can be a bit of a challenge; comics don’t come with subtitles.
Enter the wordless or “silent” comic. In my experience, comics had always been a mixture of words and pictures, and that always worked great. What was surprising to me was how well I could understand a story without any text at all, often better than if it had had text.
In this age of constant distraction, there’s something great about being able to quiet your mind to a point where even your internal dialogue has disappeared.
I haven’t read many of these silent comics, but, more and more, I’ve started to seek them out.
These are three of my favourites, hope you like them!
Disclaimer: We are not affiliated with any of these comics, and are not being paid for these reviews.
1. Un Ocean d’Amour
Available on Comixology and Amazon, the language of this book is listed as French, but the book is actually totally void of dialogue.
It starts off with a glimpse into the routine of a homely old married couple: an old French fisherman and his annoyingly attentive and adorable housewife.
One day, venturing out to sea with his partner, the old man’s little fishing vessel is caught up in the net of a great big longliner, thrusting him into a cross-ocean adventure facing storms, pirates, and a diet of nothing but the disgusting canned sardines his wife gives him for lunch every day. She, distraught by her missing husband, is not about to wait at home twiddling her thumbs. Deathly afraid of the ocean, she sets out on a luxury cruise to Cuba in search of him.
The artwork is wonderfully colorful and emotive, reminiscent of Les Triplettes de Belleville by Sylvain Chomet. You can feel the motion in the waves of the ocean, as if you were watching an animated film, somewhere between the hand-drawn style of the 50’s and the polished digital style of today.
This a light-hearted but engaging adventure that anyone can enjoy, regardless of age or language.
2. The Longest Day of the Future
Lucas Varela, Argentinian, has illustrated comics for Dark Horse and Vertigo, but this is one of few projects he has both written and illustrated on his own. He says his style is of “clear line and an underground spirit; sinisterly silly, pink, rotten, and dismally friendly.” I’m not sure what that means, but I’m inclined to agree.
The story takes place in a futuristic world of flying cars, bizarre technology, two sinister corporations vying for control of the population, and one harmless worker bee who just dreams of going on vacation in “Paraiso”.
When he accidentally gets mixed up in a plot to destroy his company’s arch-nemesis, he’ll need to find the courage to complete his mission, or he’ll never make it to his beloved Paraiso.
IIn his silly style, Varela makes it easy to root for his meek but determined protagonist, without relying on any text outside of the occasional sign or billboard in the background.
I met Nunumi at the Comic Arts Festival of Montreal in 2017, and I almost passed by her booth, but I’m very glad I didn’t. At first glance, SkyRover looks a bit like a Japanese manga for children, but to think that would be a mistake.
The story follows a young firefly collector, busy about her task of collecting and building tiny homes for her new friends, so they’ll be happy and will, in turn, light the homes of her grateful customers. Some fireflies are musicians, scientists, or artists. She provides everything they need for a happy existence.
One day, she notices that one of her butterflies has stopped shining. She tries everything to motivate him, to no avail. Suddenly everything isn’t so simple, and she’ll have to completely re-think the way her world works.
Another great story for anyone young or old, but if you’re going through a transitionary phase in your life, as I was before I founded Black Panel Press, this story will help shed some light on the situation.