Fantagraphics keep up their run of releasing the unusual with Celestia, a book with a unique art style, some minor whimsy and a lot of weirdness.
Pierrot is a poet and reluctant telepath on a Venice-like island and finds himself in the company of Dora, with whom he has a love-hate relationship. There’s been some kind of disastrous event in the recent past, and Celestia is now disconnected from the mainland. Pierrot flees to the mainland after smashing someone’s face in, Dora in tow. They meet what appears to be a family and find themselves on a road trip with a small child who also happens to be a telepath. We see a graveyard of warships, a series of spectacular ‘castles’.
The art style feels unique, with a paint and pencil style that takes in impressionist, naturalist and modernist influences. It feels very European rather than taking cues from America or Japan. The landscapes are beautifully drawn and coloured, and while the character designs are unusual, the expressions convey a lot of meaning.
The use of language is wonderful. Large parts of Pierrot’s dialogue are poems, and they are weird, cryptic and pretty good. Translating poetry and making it work in other languages is difficult, and this has been handled well.
What is this a story about? Right now, I’m not sure. It feels like one that you have to think about a bit longer and read a couple of times. It’s a strange book, but quite interesting, and there’s a high chance I’ll be rereading it.