Onion Skin comes to comic stores from IDW’s Top Shelf imprint on May 26. Created by Edgar Camacho, this award-winning graphic novel reflects the lives of aimless adults.
Onion Skin Has Many Layers
What makes Onion Skin an award winner are its captivating characters and rich narrative. The protagonists, Rolando and Nera, both experience a sense of aimlessness common in twenty-somethings. It’s a familiar feeling of wanting to do something with life, but feeling stuck after numerous disappointments. Rolando certainly fits this mold after working an unfulfilling job to the point of a breakdown. Nera, meanwhile, is a free spirit enjoying life on the lamb but wants companionship. Their chance encounter is what pushes them out of their respective malaises. It’s a common, if relatable, feeling of taking a risk in life.
But what really stands out is how Camacho arranges the narrative to evoke aimlessness. The non-linear fashion of Onion Skin isn’t merely a design choice; it plays a role in-story. Throughout two timelines, it’s difficult to tell if these events happen in the past, future, or if everything’s just a dream. Rolando finds Nera familiar, and Nera has the food truck as if waiting for Rolando. But it feels like this is the first time they met. For all the reader knows, it’s alternate realities at play or a stress fantasy. The complete ambiguity of it all is a perfect rendition of being wayward.
Camacho decorates the two timelines with different saturations of color. Most of Rolando and Nera’s time with their food truck is clearer and brighter for objects to stand out. On the other hand, their time getting together permeates muted colors. These saturations complement the simpler illustrations to evoke joy or confusion, respectively. It’s almost like after a journey, Rolando and Nera get what they earn. That is until some of the muted atmosphere appears in the food truck timeline like they’re in danger of going back to being wayward. But it’s the lettering of Onion Skin with sound effects or word balloons that ties everything together.
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Onion Skin is a must-read story of being an aimless adult, not just in its characters but in how it can happen in any place or time. It’s certainly great enough to warrant rereads to try and make discussions about it.