Review -- Melissa Pagluica's ABOVE THE CLOUDS CHAPTER 1
Above the Clouds Chapter 1
It's always nice to unexpectedly stumble across something beautiful. I mean, there you are. You slug through your grind getting slathered in the detritus of missed opportunities, dreams deferred, and failed expectations, weighted down, weighted down, and then, out of nowhere, hovering in your peripheral vision, there's something that re-establishes your faith that the universe can actually be a basically positive entity because something of beauty can push through the cracks and bloom.
Something like this happened to me a couple of weekends ago at this thing called Super Sac-Con (I know, right) in Sacramento, CA. I had made the journey there to see Howard Chaykin and Bill Sienkiewicz, then I wandered into the "Small Press Zone" and accidentally found Melissa Pagluica selling her gorgeous comic Above the Clouds.
Which is truly a thing of beauty.
And, from what I can gather, is her first comic book.
On her website, Pagluica says that Above the Clouds is "a project aimed at learning how to make a comic." From what I've seen, if this is what she considers the learning stage, I can't wait to read the books she creates after mastering the form.
Above the Clouds tells the story of a young maiden in medieval times who seems to be having trouble attracting the attention of the man she loves. She is given a book to distract her and then the comic goes all story within a story, book within a book. It is in this inner tale about the People of the Sky and the Death of the Elder Tree that Pagluica's art really transforms. The wash of pale colors that fill her panels billow and eddy and envelop her outlines adding a fluidity to her characters as they whirl through the action.
The two stories within Above the Clouds are intertwined, each having to do with a quest of self-actualization and empowerment. The frame story though, the one of unrequited love, is a silent comic. Pagluica unfolds the narrative without words. This is a bold step for a neophyte cartoonist, but Pagluica says she is studying how to tell a story visually and here she shows just how it can be done. The manner she renders the facial expressions and body language of her characters express more in a moment than anything she could write. With this, Pagluica shows that her nascent comic book skills are those of a precocious child – the one that makes the adults in the room stop, stare, and reassess their own sense of mastery.
Like I said, this is a beautiful book.
Melissa Pagluica is an artist whose name you should add to whatever "Artists To Watch" list you may subscribe to (if you do that sort of thing). If Above the Clouds is Pagluica learning to crawl, imagine where she will be when she starts jumping.
You can buy Above the Clouds Volume 1 from Pagluica's Etsy site.