Celeste by I.N.J. Culbard (graphic novel review).

‘Celeste’ is a graphic novel by I.N.J. Culbard whose graphics I have enjoyed on the ‘Brass Sun: The Wheel Of Worlds’ mini-series. His art is equally good on ‘Celeste’ and he has more space here to indulge in slow-paced storytelling which he does to good effect.


There’s a very cinematic opening few pages in which the view pans from a distant shot of the Milky Way galaxy right up to our own lovely planet. Then it focuses on three objects that look like rose petals which drift down from the sky and land on three different people. These are an albino young lady in London just getting up for work, a man in the USA driving to work and a man in Japan about to hang himself. In the blink of an eye, it appears that all the people around them vanish and they are left alone. Then the albino girl finds another girl, the man in the US finds a fellow trapped in the boot of a car, hands bound, and the man in Japan finds odd looking shape-changers who attack him in various ways. There is some nudity and not very gory violence.

The storytelling was excellent throughout and it was perfectly simple to follow even though there were many pages with neither dialogue nor captions. It was easy to see what was going on. Making sense of it was a different matter, unfortunately. I very much enjoyed the developments in the first half which built up a great sense of expectation of something brilliant about to be revealed but the concluding part was, to me, disappointing. This sort of obscure story always passes my understanding, however, and people who like experimental fiction will probably enjoy the whole thing.

I’m glad that the medium of comics is being stretched in this way and used for something other than super-heroes, monsters and Science Fiction. This was a fantasy or maybe magic realism. I certainly appreciate the tremendous amount of work that I.N.J Culbard put into this project and I emphasise again that the graphics are lovely. However, the meaning of it all was lost on me. I have reviewed similar experimental works in this manner and among the creators my name will surely be infamous as a blockhead best left reading simple super-hero adventures. Sorry.

Eamonn Murphy

May 2014

(pub: Self Made Hero. 192 page hardcover graphic novel. Price: £15.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-90683-876-8)

check out website: www.selfmadehero.com 

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