Magnetic Press, 2014
136 pages, cmyk, digital
This year, in June, at the Festival Internacional de Banda Desenhada de Beja (one of our dearest comics festivals), "As Serpentes de Água" (The Water Snakes) was released by our own Kingpin Books.
Unlike the usual portuguese editions of foreign authors, Tony Sandoval, the author, was present. To my misfortune, I was not.
I knew of Sandoval from my regular visits to DeviantArt, usually just for a quick look and without a great deal of interest. Reading his latest work - "Doomboy", published by the unknown (at least to me) Magnetic Press - made me realize the misfortune of not attending the FIBDB.
Doomboy is a story about how someone, after a great loss, can overcome grief through artistic means, in this case, music.
D. is a young man, known for his love of heavy metal, that seems to have no other occupation besides going to garageband concerts with his friends. Sandoval has a very intimate knowledge of this medium, since, according to his biography at the end of the book, comics and Metal are his major interests.
But although a prefered scenario, Doomboy is less about the heavy metal scene and more about dealing with the pain and other emotions associated with the death of someone dear to us.
The characterization of the main character is something of a misnomer when you consider how little we know little about D., but his emotional conflict is well explored and it is easy to empathize with.
More than D., this comic is dependent on its cast. Doomboy's friends and acquaintances are, at times, better developed characters than the protagonist and even when some of them could easily fall into stereotypical descriptions. The fact is that Sandoval skillfully avoids the easy recourse to cliché and is able to create some "real moments" in the narrative.
Another great strength of the book is its atmosphere, the ethereal art and lovecraftian representations amplify the sentiments expressed to the point of them being, quite literally, epic.
A more subtle point is the pacing. Tony Sandoval is an accomplished cartoonist, particularly in how he manipulates space and time on the page. There are several moments that flow in an extremely natural way and, above all, in an intelligent way.
You finish the book with a sense of satisfaction and there's even a hint about a possible sequel that makes you eager for a continuation. A job well done.
If you like stories focused on the exploration of the inner world of the characters that are accompanied by stunning artwork, this is your book.