Dear readers, I have a confession to make: I’ve been holding out on you. For about a year now, I’ve had my eye on a comic with my favorite things: a smart-alecky protagonist, spooky atmosphere, a tiny touch of magic, and seriously amazing art (from the cinematic panel compositions to the precise, architectural backgrounds, to the dynamic character designs, to the sheer weightiness of objects in each scene). There was only one problem: there weren’t quite enough pages to write about yet. Until today, that is.
I’m so happy that I can finally, finally tell you about Diana Nock’s magnificent Wonderlust.
It’s Halloween in Sally Kalloway’s sleepy New England town, and she’d rather be reading about ghosts, ghouls, and monsters than doing her schoolwork, which—to be fair—is a real snooze. It’s clear from her gestures and scowling facial expressions that Sally is impatient and frustrated with school, but a scribbly black cat living in her backpack acts as a sort of Jiminy Cricket and keeps her on track.
Not entirely on track, though: After Sally’s caught shirking her assignment, her teacher takes away her beloved book, and Sally leaves her school day behind in a black mood. Her cat (imaginary friend or magical familiar? It’s not yet clear) talks her down a bit, but it’s the breathless race back to her house—and a decadent snack upon her return home—that really does the trick.
But more disappointments await Sally at home: Her dad, a writer, is too frantically busy trying to meet a deadline to ask her about her day, let alone take her trick-or-treating. While she initially appears defeated, Sally rallies, puts on her pirate costume, and sets out in search of candy with her spectral cat in tow.
While there may not be much in the way of plot just yet, Nock culls a remarkable amount of character and atmosphere from subtle gestures and background details. Sally’s slumped shoulders, stomping gait, and awkward tween flailing as she runs home imbues her with so much depth. The angry resignation she feels in her class couldn’t be clearer than it is in these two panels, which, it’s worth noting, contain only one word of dialogue:
Nock’s masterful, deftly executed artwork is full of depth, both visually and narratively, and she accomplishes it all in a monochromatic palette! Though updates are occasionally slow, I’m inclined to forgive that minor point, given how much detail goes into each page—did you notice, for example, the texture on the doormat when Sally’s trick-or-treating? Nock’s bewitching artwork is not just a pleasure to look at, however; it’s a stunning example of visual storytelling at its finest.
Wonderlust updates on Mondays. Be patient. It’s worth it.