As one of the most unique artistic voices in UK comics, any new output from Gareth Brookes gains an interest from UK comic enthusiasts. A Thousand Coloured Castles doesn't look like it's going to disappoint, with Brookes doing something different to the norm and utilising crayons to give an "astonishing, unsettling and strange" effect.
Gareth Brookes once again twitches the net curtains of the suburban south in this gloriously crayoned follow-up to The Black Project, winner of the First Graphic Novel Competition.
Myriam is a woman who sees things a little differently from other people. Strange figures in garish costumes accompany her to the post office, wild exotic plants sprout from supermarket shelves and phantom walls rise up to block her path. Her husband Fred thinks she is losing her mind.
But when Myriam sees a young boy shut up in the house next door, who is apparently being held captive, she is determined to investigate, much to her husband's fury. Soon he brings in reinforcements - their daughter, Clare - who is concerned about her mother’s state of health, and the state of her inheritance. Myriam's only ally is her four-year-old grandson, Jack, who is more than happy to see things her way. Extraordinary hallucinations jostle with alarming reality as Myriam and Jack discover the truth of what's going on next door, and as Myriam herself grapples with the more mundane reality of a diagnosis about her fading sight.
With his customary wit and unique art, Brookes conjures both sympathy and despair for his characters trapped by the routine of daily life. As fellow cartoonist Hannah Berry says: "Gareth Brookes has an uncanny ability to locate the sinister root of the suburban and familiar and twang it mercilessly. I really, really love it".
The book is launching at Gosh! Comics in London on the 20th April.