Boat takes place in a world where civilisation fell after some unspecified event resulted in water levels rising and the planet becoming flooded. Despite the world-spanning setup, it’s a highly personal tale of one man on a journey in search of a dream to give him the resolve to keep going.
The story picks up right where volume 1 left off, with protagonist Charlie entering No Land, recognisable as the submerged city centre of Edinburgh, and is met with a decidedly unfriendly reception as his arrival upsets the shaky truce between two factions of survivors. The rival groups respectively live in the Castle, perched high on a volcanic plug, and the nearby Scott Monument, a 200-foot Gothic spire that reaches clear out of the shark-infested water. As an outsider, Charlie is met with aggressive suspicion, and the rules of the ramshackle society prove to be less than welcoming.
There’s more than a little Walking Dead vibe to proceedings, not that zombies feature in any way, but from the tired desperation to which people have been reduced, permanently on edge and wary of strangers since trust is a commodity few can afford to expend. The grim new reality is reflected in the artwork’s heavy shading and slab-black shadows, as though the entirety of life’s vibrancy has been slowly drained until only a darkened monochrome remains, a tone relived just once by a brief and ominous flash of colour that flares from the muted greyscale.
Following the same format as before, the story jumps between two points in time: the present of Now, following Charlie’s endless quest to find somewhere to call home, and Then, taking place many years previously when Charlie was a young boy travelling with his father as they try to survive. The latter of these now take us beyond the heart-wrenching culmination of volume 1 and relates what happened afterwards, presumably with the intention of future instalments detailing Charlie’s harsh experiences that shaped him into the man he grew into.
Boat might be an unforgiving portrayal of people desperately clinging to the last vestiges of humanity in a world decayed beyond repair, but for all its bleak outlook, it still manages to remain a story of hope.
BOAT VOLUME 2: NO LAND WELCOMES YOU / AUTHOR: DAVID LUMSDEN / ARTIST: MARC OLIVENT / PUBLISHER: INDEPENDENT / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW