Review: ‘That Salty Air’ by Tim Sievert
That Salty Air
Top Shelf, 2008, $10.00
For a book about the sea, [[[That Salty Ai]]]r feels awfully Minnesotan. (Or maybe I’m just reacting to the underlying Norwegian-ness of both Minnesota and Sievert’s story – but there is something hard and dour and northern about That Salty Air.)
Maryann and Hugh are a young couple who live in a lonely cabin by the sea, and whose main source of income seems to be fishing. One day, the postman delivers two letters from the local doctor – it’s immediately clear that Maryann’s letter has told her that she’s pregnant, but we get a couple of montages of sea life (red in tooth and claw, for some immediate symbolism) before Hugh gets his letter.
From it, he learns that his mother has drowned, and he immediately turns against the sea, blaming it for her death. Really, he curses the sea and throws a rock, beaning an important squid far below (which action will be important later). Hugh curses his life, runs off to town to get drunk, and generally behaves badly through the middle of the book, while Maryann sits at home, trying to keep things together.
She also hasn’t gotten a chance to tell Hugh she’s pregnant yet, since he flew off the handle so quickly and so completely. He eventually does come back, and they reconcile, with each other and with the sea…more or less.
That Salty Air is an exceptionally symbolic story, very obviously so. Sievert is clearly young and energetic, and I expect he’ll be someone to reckon with once he settles down a bit. This particular book has a lot of strong points – the particulars of characterization, the evocation of a particular landscape, the inky blacks and assured panel-to-panel transitions – but its story made this reader roll his eyes more than once. It’s a bit much to swallow.
But, on the other hand, it’s only ten bucks for over a hundred pages of comics by a real talent. It’s hard to beat that. And I expect Sievert’s next book will add some subtlety to the already impressive strengths of That Salty Air. He’s definitely a talent to watch.
Andrew Wheeler has been a publishing professional for nearly twenty years, with a long stint as a Senior Editor at the Science Fiction Book Club and a current position at John Wiley & Sons. He’s been reading comics for longer than he cares to mention, and maintains a personal, mostly book-oriented blog at antickmusings.blogspot.com.
Publishers who would like their books to be reviewed at ComicMix should contact ComicMix through the usual channels or email Andrew Wheeler directly at acwheele (at) optonline (dot) net.