Review: Soul Of The Sea Issue One

Review by David Ferguson

  • Art by Donna A Black
  • Written by Roddy McCance
  • Lettering by Zakk Saam

A man travels to a remote Irish island inhabited by a group of monks to help a sick boy in their community and to find closure about his own son, who died at sea when the fishing boat The Soul Of The Sea capsized two years before. The secrets he finds on the island are as deep as the ocean and in order to survive he must confront his own faith, his demons and an island full of devout monks, who are not what they seem.

The summary above gives you some idea of the tone of this book. Roddy McCance has written books that delve in the areas of mental health, Tales Of Fractured Minds is an example, so I was pretty confident that he would be able to create a story with a psychological bent. The unknown factor for me was artist Donna A Black. Having seen her work on a four pager for Sector 13 issue five, as well as the work in progress for this book, I was blown away by her unique mixed media style. It is reminiscent of the art of Dave McKean but there is something Ben Templesmith about it. However, there was a question in my mind on how it would work from a storytelling point of view.

The issue starts with a dream sequence about The Soul Of The Sea capsizing. This scene really plays to Donna’s ability to create striking images and sets up some of the background of the story well. When the story shifts to the real world, we get to see more of Donna’s storytelling skills. I was impressed not only with how she conveyed the emotions of the characters and told the story panel by panel but also with how she lays out and designs a page. It is not necessarily your usual method but it works with her art and, more importantly, this story. Roddy works with this artist by having “silent” panels and splash pages that allow the art to tell the story. This also gives a story that is well paced and a somewhat creepy feel as we wait for something to happen next. The plot only gives you pieces of information, for now – it is only issue one, but this underlined the uneasiness the reader feels as we don’t know what to expect.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t say something about the lettering. The choice to use white on black in the word balloons was the right one for me. It adds something to the mood of the story and fits with the art. It is probably what gives me the Ben Templesmith vibe as I have seen this on his art. I also liked the sound effects which also fit in with the art but are art in themselves. The dog barks in particular. They look like the sound. Weird to say but they do.

Overall, this is a case of a writer and artist working together to bring the reader a captivating and creepy story. Roddy McCance’s strength is his ability to create a dark, psychological story and he has found an artist in Donna A Black who can perfectly paint the picture. Highly recommended.

You can pick up a copy here: https://fracturepress.bigcartel.com/product/the-soul-of-the-sea-1