Story, Art, and Letters by David Chelsea
Review by Joey Braccino
David Chelsea’s Snow Angel is one of those (legitimately) All Ages comic gems that transcends the cynicism of your more standard four-color fare and revels in both fantasy and cultural relevance. An accomplished cartoonist whose work has graced the multiple media cornerstones like The New York Times and The Chicago Tribute, David Chelsea imbues his wonderful little one-shot from Dark Horse with an emotional intelligence and visual sensibility that is hard to find on comics stands today.
Snow Angel started as a black-and-white comic strip cobbled together during a 24-hour comic writing challenge (Chelsea has written 10 24-hour comics, which can be found here!!!). From there, it became a serialized strip with Dark Horse Presents. And now here we are, with the first-ever Snow Angel one-shot.
In this week’s Snow Angel, our young, unnamed protagonist has the uncanny ability to turn herself into a winged, haloed cherub by doing—you guessed it—snow angels. She uses her power to recover stolen bicycles and prevent petty criminals from transgressing. Despite the magnificence of these fantastical feats, the girl’s family is less impressed with her do-goodery and break some terrible news to the girl: the family is moving to Tucson, where it never snows! The girl then makes a world-altering decision (literally) to ensure her happy times as Snow Angel never end!!!
I’m sure some could argue that the girl abuses her snowy superpowers for her own benefit, but there is a simplicity and joyfulness to Chelsea’s story that inhibits the world-weariness of contemporary pop audiences. Read this book with the innocence of the girl herself and you’ll feel the same bliss that she feels as she flies about the snowy skies.
Chelsea’s artwork is the real draw here. As an artist who literally wrote a book on artistic perspective, Chelsea manipulates the comics medium brilliantly. The imagery looks at once like a fantastic children’s book as well as a sophisticated piece of journalistic cartooning. Chelsea seems to relish the newly added color palette, mixing some spectacular water-coloring with solid washes. From pinks to blues to greens and oranges, Chelsea leaves to hue unused.
Definitely a must-read, especially if you’ll be reading alongside someone else. Again, the content and aesthetic are truly All Ages, and it’ll be fun to keep an eye out for all of the pop cultural references and in-jokes (not to mention a bizarre tangent about William Henry Harrison)! Young readers will empathize with the heroine; older readers will instill the story with metaphor and meaning. David Chelsea seems to desire both results. Whimsical comics like David Chelsea’s Snow Angel are a rarity on the stands today, and I can only hope that the teased second issue comes to fruition someday!