|Wake Up, Percy Gloom! by Cathy Malkasian|
Her follow-up from 2010, Temperance, was no less assured, another richly detailed fantasy parable about belief and violence and the power of story. Her accomplishments as a fiercely unique visual storyteller are even more pronounced Temperance, weaving a narrative and visual spell rooted in the contrasting beauty of nature and expansive architecture of a stunning and wholly original citystate. It was with great anticipation that I awaited her new graphic novel, a sequel to Percy Gloom; I was not disappointed.
All of the strengths of her previous works are immediately evident in her new graphic novel (out this month from Fantagraphics) Wake Up, Percy Gloom!. Taking up where the last volume left off, Wake Up, Percy Gloom! follows Percy and his love Margaret as they embark on a quixotic journey in search of her supposed twin. Fate intervenes and Percy falls into one of his Rumpelstiltskinian sleeps - which can last many years (Percy, like his mother, is immortal). When he awakes, a series of misunderstandings leads him to believe that he's been out for 200 years, when really he's been asleep for just one year. As Percy meanders through a world he thinks is radically different than the one he left, he encounters a walled city and a government bureaucrat as shut off from reality as the city he worked for.. All the while, Percy's mother is coming to terms with a religion she accidentally created from a joke book she wrote centuries earlier. Their different stories intertwine and come together in entrancing moments of beauty and magic, vividly realized in Malkasian's extraordinary shaded pencil art.
Malkasian expands on the themes she wove in the first volume, using her remarkable fantasy world to comment on isolation, religion, government and the pain and terror and joy of love both unrequited and achieved. Wake Up, Percy Gloom! is another astonishing work from Malkasian, a beautiful and uplifting graphic novel filled with magic and loss and joy. Malkasian, a veteran animator and now highly accomplished cartoonist, once more delivers a work of startling power cementing herself as one of the most distinct and important voices in comics. For those unfamiliar with Malkasian, Wake Up, Percy Gloom! is a perfect introduction to her work - even the better if you go back and get her first two graphic novels, making a trilogy of astonishing works that weave an utterly captivating spell.