A deadly fog has rolled in and killed everything in its path, but Sunrise Valley is protected by an expertly crafted mechanical contrivance called the Dam in this graphic-novel series opener based on the 2015 Oscar-nominated short subject of the same name.
Pig’s father created the Dam and taught Pig everything about it and how to maintain it. But the madness and grief he felt after losing his wife overcame him, and he stepped out into the fog. Now Pig is alone and has assumed the role of dam keeper. Pig’s plagued by nightmares and awkward around classmates; his best friend, Fox, is the light in his life. Her kindness and spirit have even tamed the bully Hippo, and she is trying to bring them all closer as friends, though Pig and Hippo aren’t quite convinced. School’s out, and Pig eases into the comfort of his solo routine of keeping the Dam, but the fog changes into a new kind of threat, forcing him, with Fox and Hippo, into the world beyond. Every panel of artwork is lush and colorful, with frankly cute animals cast as believable middle schoolers in a post-catastrophe “new normal.” The ever present threat of death and the bright light of hope in the story are beautifully reflected in the artwork, which uses light to astonishing effect, and an expressive use of lettering throughout. The hardcover is luxuriously printed and bound with pages that lay flat—a pleasure to read.
Kondo and Tsutsumi have created what feels like an instant classic, perilous and terrifying but full of heart, with immersive artwork and a rewarding story. Unmissable. (Graphic fantasy. 7-11)