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‘Sunlight’ GN (review)

Written by Christophe Bec
Art by Bernard Khattou
Published by Clover Press

 

I have had the experience of being in an MRI.

The sensation of being in an enclosed space, tied down, and you can’t move. A mere half hour felt like a day. The moment it was over, I was shaking. I sat in my car for half an hour just trying to gather myself. The kicker is I was in relatively good health. I can’t imagine actually being ill and having to sit through that.

Which brings me to Sunlight. Written by Christophe Bec with art by Bernard Khattou. The book certainly has its strengths. The story captures the horrible feeling of being trapped, of losing your sense of being. However, when the story goes off the rails, it really goes off the rails.

Kevin, Carol, and Eva are friends who love to explore caves and abandoned mines.

Their adventures lead them to an abandoned mine. A series of coincidences leave the three trapped and with little chance of rescue. A note that’s left behind gets damaged by a cat, a board breaks and they fall untethered, a cell phone with no signal, all combine to create a harrowing experience.

Even when the coincidences seem to be a bit of a stretch, Bernard Khattou’s art really gives sense to the horror. The staging works marvelously. Most of the book is set in one location, yet never feels boring or static. The danger is palpable. As the story continues, the mine they are trapped in feels smaller, more deadly. There is no actively supernatural presence, the horror is all in the mind. And that is where the story falters a bit.

Bec’s characters are really one note. The dialogue is not bad, but since this book was originally in French, I might have chalked it up to a bad translation. However, the characters are ultimately not interesting enough to warrant any concern from the reader. The story grossly uses a sexual assault in Eva’s past in a way to fill out the character. The event in question is written so ham handedly that you feel gross reading it. There is a twist that pulls out the rug and leaves the reader wondering how much actually happened.

Khattou’s art really is the best thing Sunlight has going for it. Ultimately, I could not recommend this book. It’s full of cliches and bad tropes. If you see it at a bookstore or library, browse through it for the art.

However, if I see Bernard Khattou’s name on anything, I will definitely give his future work a look.

 

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