Updated: Jan 25, 2020
Writer: Skottie Young
Artist: Jorge Corona
Colorist: Jean-François Beaulieu
Publisher: Image Comics
Close your eyes for a moment and try to imagine how nostalgia should look like. Close your eyes again and try to feel what it should feel like.
That is, for me, what MIDDLEWEST is about.
In this story, we follow the unfortunately inescapable path of a young boy, Abel, trying to escape the cold hard reality: it is harder than we think to flee the family burden.
In a town where nothing ever happens, Abel tries his best to stay on track despite the absence of his mother and the volatility of his father. Until one day, their lives are turned upside down by the biggest storm possible.
Told on a metaphorical tone, this story is full of emotion. Skottie Young did an excellent job introducing such sad and powerful feelings in this book. Although we can recognize the style, we are far from the satirical and comical tone of I HATE FAIRYLAND. And for me, that is truly impressive. They say we can recognize a great actor by his facility to change and adapt to different characters. If Skottie Young were an actor, he would be a great one as MIDDLEWEST is completely different from some of his latest works.
The themes in MIDDLEWEST could have easily slipped out to a huge disaster, but instead it became a powerful masterpiece.
Yes, a masterpiece. This is how good I feel about this book.
The themes range from a lot of different emotions, from rage to hope to sadness to peace. But the best part is how Skottie Young was able to associate them to different steps in life. Different Challenges.
We all go through the debacle of adolescence. For some it can be quite easy. For other, it can become an almost impossible challenge. For Abel, it is a hard and crude identity quest. Trying to find the good in a truly bad situation. Trying to understand and realize the power of anger. It is even harder when you meet the destructive effects of loneliness and abandonment…. Like a disease (or a storm) eating you from the inside.
I was torn between my despite for the father’s actions and my empathy towards his pain. I was able
to understand his anger and sadness although I wasn’t agreeing with the events. I thought it was something quite beautiful and powerful to illustrate this amount of raw and dangerous emotions as a destructive storm. It made me feel uncomfortable and I found myself reaching for some hope.
Hope and sadness for Abel who wants to be free but is chained to what he was thought and showed by his father. A real rollercoaster of emotions!
Add in a talking wise fox and a drop of magic to the mix to create this original story. I thought the metaphors behind every element of it were surprising for a book aimed for teens. But not in a bad way. I find teens story to be often too light or lacking this sort of fluidity as it is, in my opinion, often build around predictable elements. In the case of MIDDLEWEST, we stay away from predictable (honestly didn’t see the cannibals jumping in into the story at the beginning!). In fact, the writing is so easy and fluid, there’s no dead\boring moment. Thoroughly thought inside and out.
And let’s not forget this AMAZING art.
I fell in love with the story and then fell in love again with the beauty of each numbers. It is a truly fantastical and beautiful art.
Skottie Young always had a really specific art style, but him teaming up with Jorge Corona is the duo I never knew I needed in my life. Special shout out to Jean-François Beaulieu for the colors, elevating this treasure to another level, rendering a product out of this world.
There’s something deep and poetic in the coloring, something that really accentuate the magical aspect of this book.
I asked you in the beginning to close your eyes and imagine what nostalgia should look and feel like. The art of this book is my answer to the question. Full of nostalgic and magical vibes, the drawings and coloring surely carries a lot of emotions and share a huge part of the success.
MIDDLEWEST proved to be a masterpiece by sweeping me off my feet! If you haven’t read it yet, I strongly recommend adding it to your list. No matter your age, I am convinced you will be able to enjoy and appreciate this mind-blowing piece.