I didn’t expect The Witcher: Fading Memories #1 to be a good comic. Licensed books rarely are, I find, and this is the comic adaptation of a video game adaptation of a translation of a book. The previous Witcher comics were at best mediocre, and that’s despite having some pretty good creators behind them.
So, it was a very, very pleasant surprise that I found The Witcher: Fading Memories by Bartosz Sztybor and Amad Mir to be fantastic. It’s honestly one of the best comics of 2020, and an astonishingly good story of purpose and loss, of what it means to be a person, of who a person is when the drive they dedicated their life to is no longer necessary.
It’s also simply beautiful. The art brings to mind a Mark Mignola-esque style, all heavy inks and darkness. Geralt (the eponymous Witcher) is drawn so dark that he almost blends into the shadows around him, nearly a part of the landscape then a figure himself. The world of The Witcher: Fading Memories is messy, dirty, dark and scary, which only serves to make the bright blue skies and beautiful seascapes of the fishing scenes more important, and even more different.
And Mir draws eyes with this faint glow behind them, a bit of luminescence that – while obviously not something that exists in real life, or even in the fiction of The Witcher – makes the people pop out more from this deep well of darkness that is so emphasized in his art. There’s a fantastic page late in the book, with Geralt and a fisherman sitting in front of a campfire, and the way that the light, dark, and shadows interact in the art is genuinely breath-taking.
The story, too, is just so good. I don’t want to spoil the surprise, because even though these reviews typically feature spoilers, this is a good enough comic that I want to preserve the twist. I really want you, the reader, to go out and buy this book. But the surprise with the narration is so good! It’s thematically consistent with the themes of the world of The Witcher, with the internal emotional milieus sampled by this comic, and while shocking – and this is very much a book that needs a content warning – it is totally supported by the previous text.
I could keep on going for a while. This is a really, really good book that works on so many different levels. But I’ll just close by saying that you ought to buy this, right now.
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