The Silver Darlings
Blank Slate Books
Danny is a young man about to set off for university, the first in his family to do so. In the quiet summer before he leaves, he’s going to work on his father’s fishing boat. Keen to prove his intelligence and sophistication, he’s decided to undermine the fishermen’s superstitions while he does so, sneaking on some contraband that has connotations of disaster.
It's not a grand tale, but what’s really impressive about The Silver Darlings is the quiet revelation that unfolds over a few short pages. What could have been a hectoring tale of hubris instead unfolds gently, almost serenely, and is given room enough to breathe that it feels natural. There’s so much going on - Danny’s desire to escape his small, ailing town, his self-constructed myth of a sudden and revelatory transition to adulthood, his immature urges to prove himself smarter and more urbane than his father and cousin - it’s all handled in such a deft way.
Angular lines and soft inks are a pretty striking combination, and the art style is so assured that it's genuinely surprising that this is Morris' first work released as a graphic novel. As a book, it's a beautiful object, the printing capturing every little detail in the inks and the texture of the original paper. Most of all though, The Silver Darlings is a small, quiet story, excellently told.