Cartoonist Evan Dahm has been creating long-form fantasy adventure webcomics and publishing them on his own for the past decade, but he’ll be getting a big boost in distribution with a new graphic novel from First Second: Island Book. Following a cursed young girl, Sola, who leaves her island home to find the monster that damned her, Island Book has Dahm venturing outside of the shared universe he’s been working in for his webcomics, and this change in environment is pushing him to explore new aspects of his craft. “After doing self-published work set in the same invented world for years, it’s exciting to start building a new story and a new world from the ground up, and make something that’s hopefully immersive and weird and fun,” says Dahm. “I want to work with ideas of mythology and the unknown in ways I haven’t before, and I’ve been wanting to make a story about a voyage on the high seas for a long time.”
As part of a week of announcements celebrating First Second’s 10th anniversary, The A.V. Club has a first look at Island Book, which is currently slated for a winter 2019 release. The character designs and promotional images highlight Dahm’s clean, evocative art style, and these unfinished interior pages show off the smoothness of his storytelling as he introduces Sola’s home and the monster that destroys it. The rich colors of the opening splash page draw the reader into this calm, verdant island setting, which is furiously rocked by the waves that herald the monster’s arrival, and that final image of the monster approaching Sola has a fantastic sense of scale. Readers will have to wait three more years to learn more about Sola, but in the meanwhile, there’s a library of Dahm’s webcomics available to read for free at his website.