Written by K. I. Zachopoulos
Illustrated by Vincenzo Balzano
Published by BOOM! Studios/Archaia
Pub. Date: July 20, 2016
Buy It Here
The Cloud is the latest graphic novel release from Archaia, an imprint of BOOM! Studios. This fantasy world is set far in the future as a boy and his trusty flying wolf Cloud travel to discover the secrets of his father and seek after a totem for wishes.
Come along and get lost in this beautifully delightful adventure story with pirates, defiant pachyderms, and talking statues.
This adventure story of a boy and his wolf will transport you to another world that is familiar but forever changed by the actions of our time. In the future of The Cloud we are left with mountain cities in the sky as the earth below is no longer fit from the actions occurring in “The Great Before”.
Each page of this graphic novel is beautifully painted by Vincenzo Balzano (Revenge: The Secret Origin of Emily Thorne) borrowing thoughtful stylistic elements from the likes of Dave McKean (Sandman) and Bill Sienkiewicz.
Fans of The Sandman: The Dream Hunters will most certainly enjoy this story tonally. The pitch and solicit also make sure to mention The NeverEnding Story a bit and for good reason. Cloud and Falkor have much in common. The boys in both stories are adventurers on a quest.
Though never too dark and scary (appropriate for children over 10), there are moments of the boy as he seeks out the Wishing Stone that have you worried for his safety. He trades seeds with a character called The Writer who is half Carnac and half The Wizard of Oz to obtain the Wishing Stone that has many secrets.
The orphan boy is also on a quest for his father, and The Writer makes sure to tell the boy careful instructions for the Wishing Stone. “A Good Wish should always change the Future, never the past”.
With this charm, the boy and Cloud start their journey but not without being chased by a new companion, a thieving girl.
The secrets of the world and all that can come out of these dark corners reveal themselves to the children as The Wishing Stone is in high demand. The Mad King is the big bad, chasing the kids and Cloud and threatening the worst.
Frankly, this whole book reads like a dream, popping from scene to scene as pages melt into one another sometimes abruptly, but mostly smoothly. You may feel as if you are flying with Cloud and the boy as you drink this book in.
There are probably some lessons to be learned by this book, but I have delighted in the abstract dreamlike quality of this original graphic novel. With stories like Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal, Gaiman’s Sandman and of course The NeverEnding Story as touchstones to this dreamscape, this is a fun read cover to cover that is difficult to put down.
And who is to say you would be able to pick up in the same spot if you did put the book down? Perhaps this book is magic, and the story is different every time you read it.
Archaia is famous for its intelligent fantasy world building with books like Mouse Guard, and this standalone story is no exception to that. A rich world appears here in the tiny spaces between the clouds in a world only imagined as a boy searches for the secrets of his father.
Popgun and Misery City author K. I. Zachopoulos has something universally appealing with The Cloud. and this is an enjoyable, easy to read and beautiful fantasy that captured and inspired me and would make a great gift for children and the adults in their lives, regardless of gender.