Comics Time: Three Shadows


Three Shadows

Cyril Pedrosa, writer/artist

First Second, April 2008

268 pages


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An admirable lack of ambition characterizes this impressive work of fantasy from European Disney-animator-turned-graphic-novelist Cyril Pedrosa. He’s not interested in building a sprawling, intricately ordered alternate world, he’s not aiming to wow us with the scope of his imagination, he’s not serving up a Hero, he’s not attempting to harness his childhood fantasies into coherence. He’s simply, loosely using the genre to tell a story about fear and pain. One of the best aspects of that story is how his surface-beautiful line–a miraculously curvy, ropy thing he can refine or sketchify on cue–never overwhelms with its loveliness the aspects of the plot that count on horror. On the contrary, somehow, seeing the titular entities as they loom like a cross between the Ringwraiths and the Shining sisters on a faraway hill for the first time, and seeing the reaction of the loving nuclear family at the heart of the story to them, are made creepier and more disconcerting by their lush surroundings. Similarly, each time the story does branch out in a more expansive direction (usually, but with one major exception, brought about by the family’s travels), the lack of preexisting expository world-building makes the world seem more mysterious and immense with each new glimpse of a new environment. Ultimately this is a story about the mortality of children in the face of a capriciously cruel world, and the crazed despair this can bring on in their parents. It’s a bitter topic, and makes for one of those rare cases where the adjective “bittersweet” is truly applicable.

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One Response to Comics Time: Three Shadows

  1. I loved reading this book, for most of the reasons listed above, but was a little mystified by the anticlimactic ending. There were a few places where the plot turned so quickly and with so little warning it almost seemed like a different book. This is one of the rare cases where I think the book may have benefited from being longer, from stretching out some of the scenes a little bit to really make them stick. Especially some of the dad stuff near the end.

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