Pat Grant’s graphic novel Blue.

A Comic About Surfing, Small Towns, and Blue-Skinned Aliens

A Comic About Surfing, Small Towns, and Blue-Skinned Aliens

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Reading between the lines.
March 30 2012 3:00 PM

Surfing With the Aliens

This month’s cartoonist Pat Grant and his weird and woolly new graphic novel Blue.

by Pat Grant
Top Shelf

In the tiny Australian factory town of Bolton, a trio of friends skips school to surf a monster swell. But the waves have carried to shore a collection of ramshackle boats, each one of which is filled with mysterious blue-skinned creatures. Years later, one of those kids looks back on the day his life, and his town, changed forever.

Thoughtful and complicated where other comics might be flashy and simplistic, Blue is a graphic novel that goes in unexpected directions. Grant’s energetic spot-colored artwork, beautiful and ugly at the same time, brings the town of Bolton and the three misfit friends to life, while the story he tells explores immigration, the hazards of memory, and the beauty and scariness of big waves. Blue really stuck with me after I read it, and I’m pleased that Australian cartoonist Grant has illustrated the second issue of the Slate Book Review.

See all the pieces in the new Slate Book Review.

Dan Kois edits and writes for Slate’s human interest and culture departments. He’s the co-author, with Isaac Butler, of The World Only Spins Forward, a history of Angels in America, and is writing a book called How to Be a Family.