The Lighthouse HC
Publisher: NBM
Release Date: February 17, 2017
Price: $15.99
Creator: Paco Roca
Format: 64 pgs., Due-Tone Color, 6" x 9", Hardcover
ISBN: 978-1-6811-2056-0
Age Rating: Young Adult
ICv2 Rating: 4 Stars out of 5

Capitalizing on the popularity of Fantagraphics's 2016 release of Wrinkles, NBM has followed suit with the first English language translation of Paco Roca's 2004 El Faro or The Lighthouse.

Cast against the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War of the late 1930s, the war itself is merely on the periphery of this short graphic novel. A valuable experiment in economical storytelling, The Lighthouse is the tale of a young soldier Francisco who is wounded and rescued by a gentle, older gentleman named Telmo.  Whereas Francisco, aged 18, has spent the majority of his teenage years in service of the Spanish Republican armies fighting against the fascist regime of General Franco, Telmo has lived a life of quiet solitude on the beaches manning a stationary outpost, a lighthouse.

Audiences familiar with adventure stories, particularly Moby Dick, Gulliver's Travels, or Ulysses may catch on early to the fanciful yarns with which Telmo regales Francisco.  While this does not undercut Roca's narrative, it might leave some readers yearning for a greater emotional depth and less predictable outcome.  Roca's visual style is warm, welcoming, and gentle, which adds dimension to Telmo's stories and the evolution of Francisco's character.  Included in this edition is also an afterword by Roca, which includes a reflection upon the story as well as early character sketches and designs.

Retailers wanting to broaden their offerings beyond juvenile spandex fighting and soap opera narratives would do well to promote The Lighthouse as an introduction to European comics, particularly Spanish literary comics.  Both in illustrative style and narrative content in such a limited package under seventy pages, The Lighthouse is a welcome addition to NBM's catalog of English language comics.

--Nathan Wilson