Comic Review: A Map To The Sun (First Second Books/Macmillan Publishers)

Basketball and struggles, on the court and everywhere else. A Map To The Sun, newly released from First Second and MacMillan Press, is a gripping full-length graphic novel with stunning […]

Basketball and struggles, on the court and everywhere else. A Map To The Sun, newly released from First Second and MacMillan Press, is a gripping full-length graphic novel with stunning visuals.

This huge (360 pages!!) full colour graphic novel is a tour-de-force from creator and illustrator Sloane Leong (Prism Stalker, From Under Mountains, etc).

Ren, a young female teen, meets Luna at a beachside basketball court and a friendship is born. But when Luna moves to back to Oahu without notice, Ren feels lost and gone forever, and dreadful sorry. Enter the side characters, all young women with complicated lives. Family issues, boyfriend issues, body image issues, substance issues. Issues about other peoples’ issues. A fledgling basketball team is formed, creating cohesion, a shared purpose, and competition among the young women. Then, to top it off, prodigal Luna returns! How will the team deal with their many and various tensions? Will the group survive or implode? And why are guys such jerks??

A fairly simple tale, perhaps, to summarize in an elevator pitch. But Sloane lifts this one wayyy up, elevates it to a very moving, evocative journey. The characters feel real pain, cry real tears, experience transcendent moments. And kick serious butt on the court.

The dialogue feels as real as life, and the visuals are simply mindblowing. Sloane’s strong storytelling skills move A Map To The Sun slowly forward, yearning and learning, leaning to the left and right, careening through brutally touching moments of joy and sadness. The sweat is tangible, the words memorable, and sometimes acidic. The hand-drawn pages are strong and confident of line, gesture, character expression. The colours are psychedelic, trippy, and appropriate. Sloane’s palette of intense saturation brings her young women of ‘colour’ into truly eye-popping greens, blue-greens, oranges, reds, and blues. I can’t overstate how beautiful these pages are!

The graphic novel includes early character sketches which are also really fascinating.

This is a long read, and really worth taking the time required for you to be entertained, engaged, and enhanced. Highly recommended!

A Map To The Sun, FirstSecond/MacMillan, $17.99 for 360 pages, Teen. Available Aug 4, 2020

Alan Spinney

About Alan Spinney

After a career of graphic design, art direction and copywriting, I still have a passion for words and pictures. I love it when a comic book comes together; the story is tight, and the drawings lead me forward. Art with words... the toughest storytelling technique to get right. Was this comic book worth your money? Let's see!!