By Will Kirkby
The two things this comic immediately reminds me of are Fleep by Jason Shiga and the Tales of the Black Freighter comic by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons from Watchmen. Okay, so those are less “things” than “other comics”, but the point holds true.
Fleep (which is brilliant) features a guy trapped in a telephone booth who uses what’s available to him to figure out where he is and what’s going on. It was presented so that each page gave the reader some new plot point (it was originally serialized a page at a time). The Black Freighter is about the sole survivor of a ship wreck who slowly goes insane through loneliness and fear.
The Sea features a guy trapped on a life raft trying to figure out how he got there and how to survive. Each page is split into four panels and represents a day. Kirkby uses the interesting idea of making most panels close ups of the main character’s head. Not every panel is of this, but most of them are. It works fairly well, as we’re able to see how the character changes physically as the days go by. The panels that don’t feature him help show that there really isn’t much else there: the empty boat, and an empty sea.
The story is mostly told through internal narration, for our main character has nobody to talk to. At night he is haunted by dreams, while during the day he tries to figure out how he got where he is, and how he will survive. He seems to be living the idea that hell is yourself, as he must figure out his past, and then face it. The narrative flows well, and I got a good feeling of the type of person the main character thinks he is, though maybe not of his true self.
There are a couple of times where the art is a little hard to understand (when we focus on things not happening in the boat), and I wonder if this comic was originally created in colour and only reduced to black and white for this print version. However, despite the occasional problem, I did enjoy both the style and storytelling of the art.
Unlike some other comics The Sea definitely requires rereading to more fully experience and understand the story. Definitely recommended.