Waterwise by Joel Orff is an experience to lose yourself in.

The protagonist is drawing his ex-girlfriend by the side of a lake. His sketch builds slowly, in companionship to his thoughts of her as he realizes that their relationship is truly over. Then an old friend, a girl he had a crush on when they were younger, breaks his reverie.

Orff’s style is dense and primitive but strong in its skill. It’s brilliant at establishing mood on a wordless level, as the reader isn’t told what to think but shown the experience. The conversation of the two is broken by flashbacks of other times together, revealing the depth of their history and their memories. They chat while he dreams of what might have been and what could be.


The continuing symbolism of water draws it all together, whether it’s the two as children imagining themselves as fish or the release of sinking under the surface of the lake. It’s a fast read, with the pages pulling you along into various states of emotion, but it’s a rewarding one, and one that can be immediately repeated, finding something new every time.

The artist has a website.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *