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Celeste Hardcover – 3 Apr 2014
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About the Author
I. N. J. Culbard is an award-winning artist who has collaborated on a critically acclaimed Sherlock Holmes series with Ian Edginton, as well as adapting At The Mountains of Madness and The Case of Charles Dexter Ward for SelfMadeHero. He also illustrates The Deadwardians for Vertigo. His latest works include Deadbeats (with Chris Lackey and Chad Fifer) and the Lovecraft adaptation The Shadow Out of Time, both for SelfMadeHero.
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Top customer reviews
All of a sudden, everyone in the world disappears except for these people. But how and, more importantly, why?
INJ Culbard’s graphic novel Celeste is the first time he’s both drawn and written a book, and it’s a triumphant effort. Celeste mixes in multiple genres from magical realism to horror fantasy, crime thrillers and contemporary romance in a potent, compelling and mysterious story.
The book is a thrilling read on a purely surface level. Culbard switches perspective on the characters every couple pages to keep all three stories spinning simultaneously. Ray Bone’s story is perhaps the most exciting. After being called by the police, the call cuts off suddenly and he realises everyone in LA has gone. But he hears a thumping from a car boot and a man leaps out, tied, with blood all over his face. As the two try to figure out what happened, Ray discovers he has more of a connection to this strange man than he first thought when he discovers his home address in the man’s car - but who is he and could he be connected to the police phone call about his wife?
Lilly and Aaron’s story in London is a whimsical and sweet story of two lonely women finding one another and connecting. They enjoy their sudden isolation in one of the biggest cities in the world and treat themselves to a champagne breakfast before running through a deserted London.
The Japanese man’s story (he’s called Yoshi in the blurb but his name is never mentioned in the book) is darker at first but becomes eerie and fantastical as he goes from attempting to hang himself to struggling to survive in a haunted forest suddenly teeming with purple cats, lizard and bird-faced people, cyclopes, and giant red demons!
Visually and narratively all of their stories are stunning to read - but there’s more going on beneath the surface. Culbard initially frames the story with a terrific zoom in from beyond the cosmos, closing in panel by panel to Earth, as a small pink flake (like a blossom petal) reaches each one of our characters, while the moon itself hangs prominently in the background, watching events unfold.
Like a lot of great sci-fi stories, Celeste is an impressionistic tale that asks many questions of the reader without providing literal answers. Culbard is inviting readers to think about the meaning behind the characters’ stories and what they mean. What is the pink flake - is it a cosmic being, like god, and does its presence symbolise a higher power offering them a second chance? Is this a dream or is it really happening? In literature, the moon has many meanings but it’s often associated with change, either rebirth or death, which could mean many things for our characters. As they face the realities of their lives, stripped of all distraction, do they falter in the face of the hard decisions or will they be victorious?
Celeste is an outstanding story of people caught at a crucial crossroads in their lives and forced into confronting their fears, told in an enthralling yet thoughtful narrative with gorgeous artwork throughout. Culbard proves decisively that he’s an accomplished writer as well as an artist with this marvellous book. Definitely check out Celeste - don’t miss one of the most enchanting comics of the year!
The artwork is superb, realistic while still remaining a bit stylised – you wouldn’t mistake the style for a superhero comic, unless it was a Vertigo one. The artist is also very good at drawing outer space and cats very realistically, though possibly not women’s underwear, but that might just be a fashion thing by the character wearing it.
Anyway, something drifts in from the depths of space, and ‘touches’ three humans. We then see the humans starting their day, and then everyone vanishes, except for one other person, who may or may not be real – and definitely not real in one of the instances; though having said that, that one might be the only real one…
So, the three subjects wander around a bit, examining their lives with their respective companions, apart from the one with the possible alien, but all three find themselves with a renewed sense of purpose.
It might all be “real”, it might be an encounter with something alien that is examining the individuals’ lives, it might all be an artistic metaphor for the same thing; whatever, the self-analysis appears to work.
If there is a message, it appears to be, break out of your routine, get a life, interact with others or the world around you. It worked for me; I immediately read another graphic novel, and once I have finished writing my morning reviews, will be off out to feed my local squirrels; but much earlier than I would normally be doing it.