‘The Black Project’ by Gareth Brookes

My rating: 3 stars

One of my resolutions for 2017 was to try reading graphic novels and comics again. I have never been much of a fan and hadn’t read one in a really long time. The Black Project by Gareth Brookes seemed like a good place to start reading them once more, because it doesn’t have many speech balloons, which is the element in graphic novels that has annoyed me the most since my childhood years.

Richard, the protagonist in this story, is a really creative boy. But the ways in which he uses that creativity are quite unusual – he creates his own girlfriends. The biggest problem is that it isn’t easy for him to keep them a secret.

The story being told is quite funny on occasion, especially in the way that Richard deals with sexuality and discovering how women’s bodies work. As the narration is done in the first person, all his doubts and misconceptions are unadulterated and sound real. I was expecting the story to have a more terrifying strand, though, which is definitely not the case. The ending was also a bit too simplistic in comparison with what the events were building to.

The Black Project is illustrated with a mix of embroidery and linocut in black and white, which is an interesting concept. However, some pages are too dark and with too many black elements, making it difficult to completely understand at a first glance what the illustrations want to convey. I wish there was a bit more colour on the pages, despite the book being titled “The Black Project”.

This graphic novel will make readers laugh as Richard tries to find new ways to keep his girlfriends out of sight of others, but it lacks a more complex ending to complement the occurrences taking place throughout the story.


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