THE SCENT OF MAY RAIN is the latest independently-produced graphic novel from Mark O. Stack and team. It’s a thought provoking piece of art that challenges the expectations of love, family, tradition, religion, and sexuality.
The digital release is set for 5/27, with the print release tentatively set for 6/17. You can pre-order either version of the book at weekendwarriorcomics.com.
Mark O. Stack and Rae Epstein have writing credit for creating the story. In 1920’s New York, a man creates a golem to act as surrogate mother for his daughter and sometimes companion for himself. Esther (the golem) acts as the surrogate for the reader as well, experiencing the world around her with naive and unsullied eyes. She does not age, and the story chronicles how her view on purpose and living evolves over the course of the last century.
Stack and Epstein are playing with a lot of ideas in this book, far too many to fairly address in a single review. Her creator makes Esther from raw materials to serve a specific purpose, but he encourages Esther to learn through exposure to the arts. The creator wants Esther to grow, but only within the creator’s narrow view of acceptable behavior for women.
Stack and Epstein infuse every page with cultural references that are authentic to each time period. Esther reacts to revelations about marriage and motherhood as would a child without benefit of upbringing or family of her own. She was literally born yesterday, so Esther’s reactions are akin to a space alien arriving on Earth and struggling to understand Earth society. Esther’s reactions are genuine from moment to moment.
In the end, Esther transcends her given programming and purpose to adopt a life directed by choice. The ending is poignant and inspiring, and Stack and Epstein conclude with a spirit of possibility for Esther. Again, this is a thought-provoking story that covers too many ideas to do justice here. (Spoiler for the ‘Conclusion’ section: get this book, and you’ll have tons to think about.) This is an excellent piece of writing.
Kaylee Rowena does nice work here matching the art to the characters in a way that augment Esther’s personality and surroundings. Rowena draws the entire book in sketchbook style, with rough strokes that look almost like charcoal. She draws characters loosely as if for a children’s book. That works well in, again, connecting the art to the character of Esther via her childlike naivete.
Rowena also takes coloring credits here, and – in a positive way – she created a book that looks old and weathered. Mystical practitioners traditionally created golems from clay and dirt. Rowena saturates the early years with sepia tones that gives the book an old Black & White movie feel. The sepia also connects the book with the raw earthen materials that make up Esther. It’s a subtle connection point, but it makes all the difference.
Cardinal Rae takes letterer credit, and does an admirable job. Rae juggles well between English and (translated) Yiddish in a way that was still easy to read. Well done on the lettering.
THE SCENT OF MAY RAIN is an insightful, thought-provoking book that looks at our society’s views on love and life, over the years, through fresh eyes. There’s almost too many ideas, but all of them are worth experiencing and discussing. Get this book!
Again, the digital release is set for 5/27, with the print release tentatively set for 6/17. You can pre-order either version of SCENT OF MAY RAIN at weekendwarriorcomics.com.
Author’s Note: Local Comic Shops (LCS) are going through a tough time right now with the pandemic outbreak of COVID-19. Comics fans of every flavor that care about his or her LCS should try to do what they can. So, here’s my part:
If you’re in Northern Delaware, South East Pennsylvania, or Southern New Jersey area, please take a moment to visit Captain Blue Hen Comics in Newark, DE. Say ‘hi,’ pick up a book, order a book (they’re on Comichub.com), and let them know you support them.
If you’re nowhere near that area, please find YOUR LCS using Comic Shop Locator and lend your support.
Thanks, and stay safe.