“My wound is my cure.”
Ye is a whimsical and refreshing take on coping and living with the ailments that plague us, large or small, each and every day. Containing elements as old as Homer’s The Odyssey or Aesop’s Fables, Ye is a story that contains endless wonder and possibility that stands out among the shelves of dark and grim comics we see today. Like with The Odyssey there’s a myriad of difficulties along the way, but there’s never a sour note or hopeless attitude. There are difficulties but not defeats, and that is what gives this book its allure.
It’s about time someone came out with a modern fable, a book with a lesson for all ages that combines the power of resilience as an adult with a childlike whimsy. As the writer, artist, and letterer, this book is Guilherme Petreca’s child and the care and love for the story shines through brightly even from within the darker pages. It thrusts the fable, a mode of storytelling often considered antiquated, into the present day by combining elements from various eras into one fantastic journey that anyone and everyone is sure to get invested in.
Ye himself is a character that represents very important ideas in comics today. This is a protagonist who is mute for most of the story. The only word he is able to say for a large majority of the comic’s pages is “Ye,” and yet he is one of the most well-defined characters you’ll read in a long time. He has the more depth and experience than most adult protagonists but still feels fresh and exciting. He doesn’t need to say a word in order to convey his love for his family, his determination or his fears. This is a kid who journeyed far from his home, survived pirates, burning hot air balloons, and clowns, and fought his Colorless King mostly on his own.
Guilherme Petreca brings this entire world to life through an intriguing use of color and space. The entire book revolves around the center of each page, its core. There are brilliant uses of black as Petreca creates brilliants scenes shrouded in shadow and darkness, but there is often a little bit of light peeking out from the center of the page, reminding us that light may always exist within our hearts, even as the Colorless King tries to take over. The images of darkness that seem to float off the page in wisps give an eeriness to certain pages while legitimizing the threat of the Colorless King. Petreca includes breathtaking uses of light as well as Ye goes from being shrouded in darkness to confronting his Colorless King while bathed in white light in just a few pages; the imagery, aura, and characters are very reminiscent of Spirited Away or other Hayao Miyazaki films.
Every page carries heavy weight and profound impact even if there’s only a drop of color; it’s a phenomenal use of artistic tools in ways rarely seen today. Each page carries so much emotion as Ye travels on his personal journey that it’s not uncommon for the reader to have to pause because they were holding their breath. Ye’s journey is as much internal as it is external and it can be that way for the readers as well. Hopefully more of his work may be translated into English so that we may have the privilege of reading it.
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