By Arpad Okay. Arclight is a hyper-stylized affair, parted lovers chasing after each other through a world of courtly drama and blood magic. Some lovers are knights and wizards. Some have become weird creatures that lose their bodies but refuse to relinquish their humanity. One’s a goose. The landscapes could be Mars. They could be Kurosawa. Attic epic stone formations, where soldiers fear to tread. What you won’t find here is exposition. Arclight is rich with details but sparse on context. Without a history lesson to establish how we got here, the reader is forced to explore this mysterious world alongside the characters.
The wonder and mystery all come together feeling right, familiar despite the alien nature of the world, the characters, most everything. The petty behavior, the courage, the passion and compassion, the actions of everyone in the book — it all feels real. Whether they always lived in the castle or have been long trapped in a cave, even when they’re body-swapped, people are people. I enjoy a nice, long walk as much as the next broom dinosaur. To tell a story so simultaneously enigmatic and relatable a story takes a deft hand.
Gossip and dueling are as Romantic fantasy as it gets, but Arclight is free from the clutter of naming lands and titles, its appreciation for understatement has the whole read feeling like a much older story. Argonauts and Grendel. Folklore. If you are looking to illustrate a fairy tale, you can do no better than Marian Churchland.
The delicate, expressive lines and sumptuous colors in Arclight are beautiful, a modern touch on classic mores in the spirit of Edmund Dulac. The art is impossibly good, hefty with spirit and weightless on the eyes. Thoughtful. Measured. It’s gorgeous. It smolders. Perfect for the story it brings to life, maybe just perfect.
Written by Brandon Graham.
Artwork and colors by Marian Churchland.
Letters by Ariana Maher.
8 out of 10