Light by Rob Cham: A Review

The thing about storytelling is that it isn’t as much as what the story is as to how it is actually told. In the case of Light by Rob Cham, it’s delightfully delivered by his quirky art in the most simple and charming way. The first thing you should know about his new book is that there no words: only characters, adventure, and colour (or the lack of it at first). Be warned: for such a cute book, there’s a bit of morbid humour that will either tickle your funny bone or leave you a little sympathetic towards the creatures that Rob has created. It makes sense: for a world without light, what else would there be but monsters?

It starts out simple enough. You’ve got yourself an intrepid hero, his trusty sword, and a map that leads to adventure. It’s a typical story with a delivery that’s just fun. The nameless hero finds a nameless companion, too. The creatures in the comic are meant to be terrifying, yet they’re presented in a way that’s a bumbling, adorable heap of thwarted aggression. A bat that’s not actually a very good bat, because bats have echolocation with the point of not hitting that stalactite; or that giant angry bird (no really, it does look like the big red one) that ends up in the most unfortunate of situations. There’s a small mystery that crops up early on, and is dealt with by a wise hermit that looks kind of like an Ood, plus martial arts skills and minus the janitor’s coat.

I found myself a bit thoughtful by the ending, though. The title of the comic itself is a spoiler, and how we get there is already a journey many stories have done, but there’s something endearing on how it ends. I mean, we’ve come to associate light with colour and the absence of monsters that go bump in the night, and here we are, with that same conclusion. Yet, you realize that the heroes in the story have lived in a world with the creatures in an eternal night without knowing a world that was any different. The map was given to the hero by his grandfather. Here one can assume that at least three generations have lived in the absence of any big source of light and life has thrived.

And certainly Rob Cham has made the point clear and gotten it across in a very creative way. He uses light as a theme by manipulating colours. For such a dark world he’s created (and most of the pages are in printed in black), there’s a smattering of brightness and contrast that highlights the situation that his characters are in. Mood is told through the use of specific colours, and his creatures pop into gigantic caricatures that silly yet dangerous at the same time with his unique drawing style. And by the end of it all, when light finally takes its proper place in the world, you realize that despite the life that has grown in the blackness, there’s still more for the darkness-sleep-addled world that’s just had its taste of sun to offer, and perhaps another adventure awaits our heroes in this brave new world where day and night may have finally come to exist.

Light by Rob Cham is published under Anino Comics, the comics imprint of Adarna House, and will be available to the public during Komiket this coming April 5, and will hit bookstores within April and May. There will be a book signing event on April 11 at Comic Odyssey at The Fort. Rob will also be at Readking Komiks 8 at Uno Morato this April 18.

Raging Tomato

Future angry surgeon. Currently a fidgety nightshade.

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