THAT SALTY AIR
Written and Drawn by Tim Sievert
Published by Top Shelf
Hugh is a fisherman, one of those guys with a special relationship to the sea. But his fate is altered one afternoon when his wife Maryanne picks up the mail. In it is an envelope for him, and one for her. Maryanne’s envelope tells her she’s pregnant; Hugh’s delivers the news that his mother is dead, drowned in the sea he loves so much. Facing foreclosure and ruin, Hugh loses his mind in grief, jeopardizing his marriage, his unborn child, and his home. And along the way, he takes out his pain on the wife and the sea, with results that could see them all joining his mother in the afterlife quite soon.
THAT SALTY AIR is Sievert’s debut graphic novel, and to be blunt, it reads like it. There are certainly some things to appreciate about his efforts here; he’s a lovely artist, and his passion for the water comes through to the reader quite vividly. But the book is riddled with problems it can’t overcome.
First among those is Hugh. Hugh is an uncommunicative jackass, and he’s a dick from the first time he speaks to his wife until the end. Not once did I feel any sympathy or sadness for his loss, never caring about him in the slightest. Issue two is the pacing of the story; to use the word “glacial” would be putting a cherry on it. In this 112-page graphic novel, there’re about 40 pages of story. I was able to skip multiple pages at a time while he digressed to drawing the sea’s bottom and some fish. The other issue is Maryanne; you like and feel for her right away, but even then, she makes some seriously stupid decisions for a woman carrying an unborn child. That’s compounded by the fact that she has to make those decisions in order for the plot to be served and give Sievert his ending… telling you that the author put aside story and character logic and didn’t get to the natural ending, but a forced one.
Sievert has some talent, and he may have a great graphic novel in him, but unfortunately, THAT SALTY AIR isn’t that book.