Scales & Scoundrels #9 // Review
Continuing her journey of self-discovery, Luvander encounters conflict between a lonely mermaid and a mute fisherman in issue 9 of Sebastian Girner and Galaad’s Scales and Scoundrels. Nearly devoid of dialogue, the Girner composed issue is conveyed almost exclusively through pictorials, giving artist Galaad an opportunity to showcase his skills. Illuminating worlds both above and below water, Galaad continues to illustrate a whimsical and colorful realm of wonder, juxtaposing bold outlines and lightly washed backgrounds to create a fun and welcoming experience for readers. While the underwater setting gives Galaad an opportunity to explore cooler colors, he does so sparingly, contrasting the darker elements with his traditionally warm palette.
Permeating the issue is the theme of communication; the mermaid at the center of the tale is captivated upon hearing the beautiful singing of a fisherman sailing nearby and steals his voice in a magic conch after he shipwrecks, purposely condensing and inverting the mermaid trope perpetuated by Disney. Both the sailor’s speechlessness, and Luvander’s inability to communicate with the mermaid, necessitates the incorporation of non-verbal correspondence between the characters. This is accomplished through the use of hieroglyphic etches, composed by both the fisherman and the mermaid, each telling different variations of their earlier encounter to Luvander; an interesting take on the trope of disparate perspectives on the same story. Galaad excels in translating plot without the need for prose, and uses divergent artistic styles and approaches to differentiate the fisherman and the mermaid’s distinct versions of their story.
One of the issue’s highlights is Galaad’s substitution of words for cartoon pictographs in speech bubbles throughout the story. Conversations and internal thoughts are made exponentially more animated and interesting through this creative method. Ideas are expressed more easily, and feel more to the point when expressed through these simple signifiers.
Self-contained, issue #9’s story seems unlikely to bear any long-term effects in the overarching narrative. Character growth is minimal, only seen with Luvander expressing compassion towards the mermaid at tale’s end, after showcasing selfishness and ambivalence to the fisherman’s plight at the story’s onset. An exercise in artistic storytelling, the issue is an imaginative, enjoyable jaunt that will leave readers satisfied, but no more knowledgeable about who Luvander is than before .