A Sea of Love (original title: Un Océan d’amour)
by Wilfrid Lupano, illustrated by Gregory Panaccione
expected publication: July 31 2018 (first French edition published in 2014)
Published by Lion Forge Comics
From Goodreads: Each morning, a frail, old, bespectacled fisherman heads out to sea, leaving his doting, matronly wife at home patiently caring for the house, awaiting his return in the evening. But one evening he doesn’t come home, instead accidentally snared by a much larger, industrial fishing trawler that absentmindedly carries him across the Atlantic. Back home, the village wonders what might have happened, assuming his death, but his wife refuses to give up hope. She consults a fortune teller who sees his visage in a crepe . . . alive in Cuba. Convinced her husband is still alive, she sets off on an improbable mission to save him. Completely wordless, this heartwarming and often hilarious adventure is a testament to not only the power of sequential storytelling, but the power of love itself.
A lot of Very Serious People have looked down their noses at graphic novels for a long time. “Not enough blocks of dolorous text to tell a story!” or “Picture books are for children, not for discerning adults!” are the general refrains that these Very Serious People cling to in the hopes of convincing the rest of the world that only big books with dense text and unhappy endings tell important stories. They are, of course, completely wrong.
Graphic novels have done a lot of growing and changing in the past few decades, providing audiences around the world (grown-ups included) with a vast array of stories about a vast array of topics. Many of them are silly and fun. Others are dark and impart important messages. Some of them are both at the same time. But what they all do is push the boundaries of how people tell stories through books.
In A Sea of Love, Wilfrid Lupano and Gregory Panaccione do a little more to stretch the boundaries of storytelling via books by doing away with words entirely. Through Panaccione’s gorgeous illustrations, they tell a story as rich and complex as any book filled to the brim with words could do.
A Sea of Love tells the story of a bespectacled old fisherman who says goodbye to his doting wife one dark morning and heads out to sea, only to be swept away when an industrial fishing trawler accidentally snags his little boat and carries him across the Atlantic Ocean. When he doesn’t return home that night, the other people in town declare that the old fisherman must have died. But his wife holds out hope. She visits a fortune teller, and when she sees an image of her husband- alive and in Cuba- burned into a crepe, she embarks upon a grand voyage to find him. In their search for home and each other, the fisherman and his wife have adventures and meet new friends in their parallel journeys, and the ending is as satisfying as it is enchanting.
A story without words rests upon the strength of its visuals, and Panaccione’s illustrations are more than up to the task. Within a few frames, I fell in love with the little old fisherman and could see that he and his wife were devoted to each other. Though the panels were small on my e-reader, I could get clear picture of the tiny fishing boat set against the grandeur of the ocean or understand the fisherman’s reaction to a bird’s predicament. Each frame was a work of art, beautifully crafted and conveying its message so completely that I didn’t notice the lack of words. I felt the fisherman’s outrage and sorrow when he sailed into a massive patch of garbage floating in the ocean, and I understood his wife’s bewilderment at the situation she found herself in towards the end. And while I don’t generally laugh while reading books, I couldn’t keep from giggling at the characters’ antics. Out loud, and often.
This book hooked me from the first page and I flew through the story, often pausing to admire the incredible artwork, much of which I would love to have framed on my walls. When I reached the final page I was sad to be done with the story. I would happily have stuck around for another hundred pages and more. Though I received a free ebook edition of this through NetGalley, I plan to search for a physical copy to buy and add to my small but growing collection of graphic novels, and would heartily recommend it to anyone who loves stories.
I downloaded a free copy of this ebook edition from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own.