Review by Ian Keogh
Don’t look for much in the way of coherence over the first chapter of 1000 Storms, as Tony Sandoval seems to be exploring a dream narrative with multiple truths and connected themes. Is Lisa the teenage hunter gatherer in a strange desolate land, or the young teenage girl who lives with a harsh grandmother in a seaside town where she works in the local cafe? Greater clarity comes with a second chapter showing both are true as Lisa has discovered a gateway to another land, and returns from there with cool things she finds.
The sense of displacement is accentuated by the way Sandoval switches his art from wispy watercolour illustrations to scratchy comic panels, but it’s the art that captivates when the start is hard going. In either form there’s considerable skill and an ethereal beauty, but in a far from conventional sense, and that’s matched by the weirdness of designs for strange creatures who play a part from halfway. Based on animals, there’s a mythical quality to them, something Hercules might have been pitched against in Greek fables.
Comparisons with Hercules are prompted by Lisa receiving messages telling her she must overcome a series of trials to become a glimpsed future self. What eventually emerges is a dark fairy tale about a lonely child persecuted by her peers, but when danger comes calling she’s the only one with the courage and capability to face it. Allegories concerning coming of age are part of 1000 Storms, and Sandoval pushes the boat out with some made early. Although marked by publishers Magnetic Press as intended for young adults, it’ll be a brave American librarian who categorises it as such, as the early image of a naked Lisa straddles a fine line between innocence and sexualisation.
Otherwise Sandoval’s produced a sweet fairy tale, layered and satisfying that looks beautiful.