Not all art is about entertainment. Sometimes, art exists to challenge, teach, or heal us. A better way to describe art is to say that all art exists to help us. How it helps us changes from piece to piece. I had the opportunity this week to read Ingrid Chabbert’s Waves, the topics of which are of a grim seriousness that I don’t want to obfuscate or shy away from. I’ll start this review by saying that if you’re searching for a lighthearted comic book, you might want to pass on this one. If you’re looking for something that will move you and, quite possibly, help you in your own life, then you need to learn more about Waves.
Waves tells the story of a young couple as they deal with the emotional fallout of conceiving, and eventually losing, a child. The plot pulls no punches in its heart-wrenching honesty about just how horrific such a journey is. Despite this, it doesn’t begin or end with loss. Instead, Waves focuses on how the two repair their lives as they move forward.
Everything on display here is expertly written, which makes this already personal story all the more emotionally gripping. Each beat hits exactly as it intends in a veritable minefield of potential missteps. The structure of the book is especially fascinating. The introductory pages move at a swift pace, and even the major tragedy doesn’t last more than a few pages. It’s far more interested in what comes after tragedy than wallowing in tragedy itself.
Color, and its disappearance, is a critical part of the visual language used to convey that tragedy. A significant portion of the book takes place entirely in grayscale, a reflection of the emptiness the two women are feeling. Color serves as a metaphor for hope, and its slow return to the couple’s life returns vibrancy to the graphic novel itself. The artwork of Waves is simply beautiful and retains a tight, grounded feeling that brings the whole book closer to home.
There are countless ways to describe Waves and the impact it can have on its readers. For me, Waves was a reminder about the importance of choice. The choice to despair or to keep moving forward. It would have been so easy to make Waves a book about despair, but it isn’t. Heartbreak occurs in this story, but it isn’t a story about heartbreak. It’s about hope and about healing. The subject matter is something I don’t have experience with, but its themes and messages spoke to me and my own struggles. This isn’t an easy book to read, but its value is limitless. I advise everyone reading this to go out and purchase Waves so that more books of its like can be created.
Creative Team: Ingrid Chabbert (Writer), Carole Maurel (Artist), Deron Bennett (Letterer)
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Click here to purchase.