Nightlights by Lorena Alvarez
Nightlights is an new contemporary comic book which tells the enchanting yet twisted tale of a young artist called Sandy. In Sandy's world, every night tiny little lights appear out of the darkness which she catches and turns into creatures who she plays with until she falls asleep. Each morning, Sandy brings the characters back to life through whimsical drawings but when a new girls starts at her school and is the first person to notice Sandy's talents, things start to take a slightly sinister turn.
The generous folk over at Nobrow Press often send me lovely packages containing their latest releases for me to share my thoughts on and when I first received Nightlights I actually thought it was from their sister picture book publisher Flying Eye Books. At first the book reminded me of a cheery Studio Ghibli movie about a loveable eccentric outsider but as the tale twisted along I found more Tim-Burton-esque flavourings with warped creatures bringing in a darker tone. This shift in tone, and contrast between style and substance, is in fact a huge part of the stories success; as soon as you are caught off guard, you find yourself ten times deeper in to Lorena's universe and completely entranced by all that surrounds you.
What interests me most about the book's creator, Lorena Alvarez, is her affinity for learning. Not only does she attempt to try something new with every illustration project she embarks on but she is also part of an experimental puppetry group and is currently learning to play the guitar. This love for life and all the many skills it has to offer has most definitely been translated into Sandy's youthful optimism. Sandy's sunny disposition gives contrast to the darker elements of the story and makes it even more intriguing when Lorena begins to delve deeper into the themes of fear, insecurity and creativity. Contrasting the very best part of being a maker - that childlike sensation of letting your imagination run free - with some of the worst qualities which plague creatives makes for a truly special tale which any creative can relate to.
With the year coming to an end there are only a few things on my blogger mind - Christmas content and end of year round-ups. Nightlights doesn't fit that well into the first category (although it would make an excellent gift) but it is bound to feature in the latter as it is a sure front runner for my best book of the year! What's more, it feels like this is just the tip of the iceberg for Lorena as a storyteller. This is just a single nightlight which Lorena has caught and turned into a wondrous tale and I am sure there are plenty more out there just waiting to inspire!