The second of John Cei Douglas’ new comics. After adoring Holding Patterns for its beautiful melancholy and wistful delight I’m delighted to say that Map To Your Heart is every bit as beautiful. Was there ever any doubt?
Show Me The Map To Your Heart
A folk tale romance between two young lovers spanning a fantastic world of dreams, wonder and mystery, leading to a very real quest of self discovery that confronts their own reality, contemplating the fables which frame our own relationships and how they might take on lives of their own.
That’s Douglas’ description of Show Me The Map To Your Heart on his back cover. And yes, that pretty much covers it, but it’s a mere tease for the delights you’ll find inside.
It’s short, just 16-pages, but you would never say that once you’ve read it. Actually, a better description would be to say once you’ve absorbed it, as that’s the feel you get from the experience, there’s a beautiful tale in here, surface simple, but so multi-layered, one of modern reality seen fleetingly that dissolves to a time gone by, a fantasy land of travelling troubadours (Alexander) and beautiful farmhands (Helena) who meet and fall totally in love.
And it all looks a little like this….
Right, just from those first couple of pages, you can see the stylistic shifts Douglas is going for here. It’s a further refining, something new, somewhere between the rough lines of Buffalo Roots and the smoother, organic line seen in the strips of Holding Patterns, and yet delivering something different from both; moments where detail dissolves and we find ourselves looking at something simple and losing nearly all detail in service to the tale. It’s a lovely look. In fact, all of Douglas’ looks are lovely (except the one with the bow-tie and the dungarees, doesn’t suit at all).
What starts as a simple troubadour meets farmhand love story, shifts within just five pages to something very, very different.Seeming years pass in just a couple of pages, as we see the depth of their love, as we become fully involved in their relationship. They each support the other, her mending his shattered heart, him pledging to find the pieces of hers, given out unselfishly over the years.
She does indeed give him the map of her heart, and off he ventures, travelling far and wide to reclaim her heart, piece by piece, a beautiful four page fold-out map forming the centre-piece of this beautiful little comic telling the tale of the journey he/they take, it’s beautifully, and brilliantly done, the tone just right, a story that feels older than it is, something that lifts you up, and just when you expect the happy ending, Douglas throws you a curve-ball, delivering something not really happy, but not a heartbreaker either, something that makes us look at our own relationships and the ways they change our lives.
It ends with such a melancholy moment, not despair per se, but definitely one of melancholic sadness, thoughtfulness that lasts with you way longer than you may expect it to.
I shall leave you with the final page, completely non-spoilery, but totally capturing the feel of the comic….
John Cei Douglas may not make many comics, but every one he makes is important, is well worth seeking out. Show Me Th eMap To Your Heart is merely the latest in an essential collection of his works.