Cloud Town

Writer / Artist
Cloud Town
Cloud Town review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: Amulet Books - 978-1-4197-4964-3
  • Release date: 2022
  • UPC: 9781419749643
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: yes
  • Positive minority portrayal?: no

Cloud Town exists floating in the sky adjacent to a rip in the fabric of the universe, yet as well as housing a study facility and a military base, it’s also residential, which is a life threatening hazard when a creature occasionally breaks through the rip. The devised method of protection is a human whose brainwaves are specifically attuned to the needs of a massive combat suit towering above buildings. The initial focus, though, is on Olive and Pen who’ve been friends all their lives. Pen has had to fight for everything in her life, while Olive is timid, academic and unable to stand up to the school bullies, who to Pen are laughable. When another creature breaks through life changes for Olive and Pen, and their friendship comes under threat.

There’s no shortage of ideas to Daniel McCloskey’s Cloud Town, but he’s not the most effective at communicating them, always up for another wild diversion whether or not there’s any great connection to his main story. When combined with the incredibly busy illustrations it’s like being in the presence of the kid who’s drunk the whole two litre cola bottle. There’s an incredible amount of energy, but focus is minimal.

That also applies to the art, presenting appealingly wonky people and locations, rich in detail and personality and constantly innovative chapter title pages. Yet sometimes what’s needed to tell the story is buried in illustrations where there’s so much going on it’s difficult to make out what’s necessary.

Energy and commitment is unquestionable, and the root of the story about betrayal is heartbreaking, especially concerning someone obviously unable to cope under pressure. However there are too many unnecessary layers hiding the good aspects. McCloskey is an incredibly talented pure fountain of ideas, and if he can learn to cut to the necessities he’ll produce a truly great graphic novel one day. Flawed as this is, there are still enough strengths to ensure a readable experience.