Nightlights is a gorgeous parable by Lorena Alvarez. Although I’m not entirely sure I grasped the meaning of everything that happens in it, it is absolutely beautiful. (And a work that leaves you thinking isn’t a bad thing, either.)
Sandy is a young artist, drawing constantly. At night, she sees sparkles of light that fire her imagination, leading to luscious, expansive spreads of collaged images, all richly colored in fuchsias and purples and blues.
At school, she meets a ghostly looking girl named Morfie who at first inspires her by praising her work. Then things turn dark, and the presence of another is threatening.
I was reminded, in the strong use of color and the variety of children, of the work of Mary Blair, although Alvarez has more detail in her work, instead of Blair’s simplified shapes.
Update: Rich Barrett has posted a beautiful spread that shows what I mean, complete with some artistic analysis.
The publicity mentions the story being about “fear, insecurity, and creativity”, but I thought it had a stronger component of the artistic ego potentially being damaged by being interfered with, even to be praised. The danger of adulation, in other words. However you read it, it can be both a simple, approachable story of a schoolgirl just wanting to draw or a rich text with a theme of protecting creativity. Either way, the reader can return to it multiple times, finding something new each visit. And I liked that a math trick helped save the day!
Nightlights is due out February 22. It can be ordered from your local comic shop with Diamond code DEC16 1806. (The publisher provided an advance digital review copy.)