Ages ago, a meteor smashed into the earth, creating a forked crevice. Over time, they filled with water and became the Y-shaped river that inspired the burg of Ystov to take its name. First-time graphic novelist William Goldsmith creates the landscape and the population of Ystov in a series of two-page stories in Vignettes of Ystov, a lovely book that sneaks up on you like a pleasant surprise.
Even at its most melancholy, Vignettes of Ystov has a great deal of wit and whimsy to it. But it’s also a serious book, dealing with serious themes, even if those themes showcase the banality of many people’s lives and ambitions. In one story, a property manager is sent to clean out a deceased janitor’s apartment and finds a museum-like shrine to one ordinary life. The property manager becomes obsessed with it as though it were his life. In a way, it’s easy to see why. In another, two childhood friends, now grown, split up—he’s staying behind in their hometown while she’s moving to Ystov. They make plans to meet again in 40 years, and as she departs, she imagines what that will be like. My personal favorite of all the stories details two astronauts who decide to debunk persistent rumors of coincidences and prove once and for all that they don’t exist.
Goldsmith uses a different palette for each vignette, and he draws in bold brush strokes. The art alone is compelling enough, but the sometimes funny, sometimes haunting text that tells the stories perfectly complements it.
The stories are appropriate for all ages, but the appeal is most likely to lie with adults and older teens. The book is a gem, a wonderful little collection that shows great promise for its debut creator.