Books

The Last Island by Alex Cahill

Review by Chas Bowie

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The Last Island is a hypnotic, dreamy, and sometimes violent tale of two boys stranded together on a remote island, where mysterious pieces of machinery wash ashore. The story's told without words, dictated as a suite of blocky, whimsical drawings by Pacific Northwest College of Art grad Alex Cahill. The Last Island's so ambitious and well made that I had to talk to Cahill to get some answers.

The Last Island is your second silent comic. Were you making talkie books before going silent?

You could say that. I spent a summer making a 12-page comic called Letters from Planet Personality. It was an endlessly wordy brick of 12 pages that nobody wanted to read. I realized that I had to find a way to distill the language of comics into just pictures. It became almost a challenge to myself to see if I could shut up long enough to have a story with no words. And I just fell in love with that way of doing it.

Did you intend The Last Island to be a political parable?

I was aware of my political undertones when I was making it, but I hate getting hit over the head with obvious political intentions in books. The only way a reader is going to entertain your own obnoxious political intentions in a book is if they feel like those intentions are their own as a reader. So not having words is a great way to make people feel like they're making things up as they go along. It's like the story belongs to them.

How did your imprint, The New Radio, come about, and what are its goals and missions?

It's an effort to try to blend the sensibilities of mainstream comics and indie comics. There's such a division about which camp you belong to. It's like when you're a kid, you're either a Marvel fan or a DC fan, and as you get older, you're either a mainstream comics maker, or an underground comics maker. Our goal is to act like that distinction's not there, and not to fight like an indie comic in a mainstream comics world, or vice versa.

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