Ice Haven – Daniel Clowes

Ice HavenThis is one of those indie comics. Something you feel you should be reading but are terrified you won’t “get.” Its purpose isn’t to entertain and provide escapism but rather to make you think and hopefully feel what the author is talking about.

It is a scrapbook of themes and emotions tied together by a group of separate characters who live in the same town. It deals with the feeling we all have such as confusion, rejection, doubt and the changes that life exposes us too. It may speak more to the creative individual as a number of the characters are writers, frustrated or otherwise, and there is a comic book critic that will definitely make you smile.

There is a mystery if you want something more straightforward to cling to, more than one in fact, but the author leaves you to imagine their conclusions should you choose too. Ultimately this is a series of vignettes about emotions, mostly painful ones. It is like a photo album of feelings that can draw you back to your own experiences of the human condition.

The art is great and uses a plethora of well-chosen styles. The adults are drawn realistically and the children more cartoonish. There is a great use of monochrome, unusual panel shapes, handwriting and other tools expertly employed. One of the genius touches is the lettering. Where a character is not listening to a conversation or something appears in the background the speech bubble will be cut in half by the edge of the panel or be lost underneath other text. This is a powerful technique that places us in the mind and mood of the current protagonist.

The book is a tough hardback on lovely thick paper in small landscape format. When you open the book it gets very wide indeed and is a very different tactile experience. A great example of presentation.

Thumbs Up!

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