I didn't have much awareness of Becky Cloonan's work until now when I stumbled across her page relating to a new graphic novel that collects three well regarded short stories, with ' Demeter ' as her most recent publication. Her other Tumblr page INK AND THUNDER covers most of the update of her new book. She dedicated the book to Guy Davis which I thought was a really nice touch as he's one of my favorite creators.
I came across her title when she was promoting her fund-raising event for fans to pre-order her book a couple months ago which I was fortunate to manage to get on the list with a great price of twenty dollars. The more she put up preview images of her work, the more impressed I was with her line work.
Lounak Books ( or Studio Lounak ) partnered with her to publish the hardcover edition with foil embossed effects on the front, back and spine of the book. It was'nt the idea of the book's manufacture that got my attention but the subject matter of the supernatural in medieval times that did. It was literally right up my alley. But what's most interesting about Becky Cloonan is not only is she from Italy, but had in the past lived in New Hampshire, not too far from where I'm at. Currently she's situated in Montreal, a place I've yet to explore in person. Maybe some day when I have the time and money to do so at the right time under the right circumstances, I will.
The book itself is fantastic and beautifully produced. I really appreciated the foil embossed effects that relate to the book's theme and especially the inspired Viking/Nordic runes and symbol of the sword on the spine that reminds me greatly of the Elder Scrolls: Skryim game encountered in underground caverns and dungeons. It lent a sense of supernatural magick and tone of the book.
The runes may be done intentionally for elemental purposes but I noticed that the first symbol after the sword with the line looking like an 'R' seem to be connected to 'wealth'. The last one showing two lines splitting outward probably relates to 'salvation'. Another possibility is that they read as single letters F and K, respectively. It might not have any esoteric meaning and could be subconsciously put there by a graphic designer, unschooled in the secret mysteries.
The interiors are cleanly inked and apparently, she uses a similar technique that Guy Davis employed with gray tones for most of the panels that he used on The Marquis, another favorite title of mine. The three short stories that are collected here are not connected to one another but stand alone well enough to get the point across. However, they share a similar theme which I prefer not to spoil here. The pacing is cinematic with 'old school' storytelling technique and I liked how clean her ink lines appeared here. Not everything needs to be spelled out as I had to somewhat 'read between the lines' and figure it out for myself, even though it was'nt that difficult to see the connection.
But the best part would be the bonus pages in the end revealing her conceptual drawings in pencil and ink which is amazing to behold. Not only is her inking beautiful, the graphite drawings have a raw nature to the conceptualization stages before the stories were fully realized.
It's looking through a forbidden window of what could have been had the creator taken a different path. For those who are into supernatural or medieval tales in the lines of 1001 Arabian Nights or a much more adult Brother Grimm tale, this would be it. Keep in mind that it's quite a quick read under a half hour or so. This book, depending on your mood, could haunt you long after you finish reading it.
The photos below showcase what the hardcover and included postcards look like ( which is also another awesome bonus, by the way ).
I also want to add that she does'nt overload the stories with many characters but with a few as a focus which I think was a good thing. Had she pulled a " Spiderman 3 " with a huge cast, it would have fallen apart. This is one of the reasons why I think " By Chance or Providence " worked well in this case.