By Sara Varon
88 pages, black and white, two-color, and full-color
Published by Alternative Comics

Sara Varon is probably not a familiar name to most comic book readers. I’d never encountered her work until last year’s anthology Rosetta, but I found myself already hoping to see more of her comics before too long. Sometimes it’s almost like Alternative Comics’s publisher Jeff Mason is hovering over my shoulder and taking notes at moments like that, because now we’ve got Varon’s first graphic novel, Sweaterweather, collecting a great deal of her works to date.

Sweaterweather is a series of short stories, where the only real link is Varon’s sensibilities that come across in her work. Cute animals and people walk down the street side-by-side, competing in pie-eating contests, worrying about making higher rent payments, and generally just leaving their lives. Sweaterweather is definitely an all-ages book that really meets those requirements; I think adults are going to find the skill and craft displayed here just as enjoyable as younger readers. Take, for instance, Varon’s 26-panel story where each panel in order is related to a letter of the alphabet. Younger readers will find it a fun story and try to pick out how each letter is represented. On the other hand, adults will better appreciate how Varon put the story together to follow this alphabetical pattern, while still seeing the amusement in the events of the story themselves. Adults, if anything, will probably better appreciate some of the stories like the one where the racoon has to sacrifice some prized possessions to have some needed money. While children will certainly understand what’s going on, it’s an adult sensibility that tells a story of giving up parts of one’s past in order to have a brighter future.

Varon’s art just makes me keep thinking what a perfect name Sweaterweather is, because it’s as soft and comforting as a favorite sweater. There’s a children’s storybook quality to her creatures, with her thick ink lines and friendly-looking creations. Perhaps the greatest strength of Varon’s art, though, is her ability to make anything seem perfectly reasonable. One doesn’t even bat an eye when a rabbit is able to climb inside a turtle’s shell to seek shelter from the snow, or when a cat is able to use special feathers to fly through the sky. It all just looks natural without a break in style or form from Varon.

Last but not least, I was really impressed with the production design of Sweaterweather. This is one gorgeous looking book, with its usage from time to time with two-color and full-color sections. That’s not the only nice touch to the book, though. Everything’s been thought out very carefully here, from one page being a small “flyer” inserted into the book, to the special postcards, stamps, and paper dolls that you can snip out of the back of the book, each page was conceived as an entity in its own right and treated accordingly. Even the cover is great, with a great feel to the cover stock and the shiny ink that I kept rubbing my fingers over its surface. Varon’s debut book has a gorgeous charm about it, and I can’t imagine someone not falling just as in love with Sweaterweather as I have. Sweaterweather is on sale now at better comic book stores everywhere.

Purchase Links: Amazon.com

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