By Sneha Jaiswal (Twitter | Instagram) Click here for audio version
For the last two years, I’ve been thinking about doing a trip with my brother, but somehow it’s still on an invisible bucket list. Reading “Cold Front,” a graphic novel by Jean Cremers, once again made me wonder what it would be like to travel with a sibling. The novel follows two estranged brothers, Jules and Martin, as they journey and hike through snowy Norway. However, the harsh cold is the least of their challenges, as the moody Martin makes everything more difficult than necessary.
Martin, a thirty-year-old, is avoiding communication with his family and instead seeks to establish a deeper connection with Norse Gods by spending time in Norway. Jules, the younger brother who is studying to be an artist, fails to comprehend Martin’s newfound fascination with Nordic mythology and wishes he would simply speak to his loved ones instead of seeking divine intervention from Odin. The artwork in the novel is muted and minimalist, much like the natural bare beauty of Norway. However, the pages appear as if simple water paintings were slightly smudged by a splash of water, resulting in hazy illustrations. Considering the vast scenic Norwegian landscape in which the story is set, I would have preferred more details and colors in the panels.
“Cold Front” explores the relationship between two brothers who are not particularly close, resulting in numerous fights and arguments along the way. On the surface, both protagonists appear strikingly different from each other, with the contrast emphasized by their physical appearances—Martin is taller, bigger, almost resembling a Norse deity, while Jules is lanky, scrawny, with long hair and clothing that gives him the appearance of a homeless artist. However, they are both stubborn, strong-willed, family-oriented, and artistically inclined. It becomes difficult for the reader to take sides since they both have their own flaws.
Jean Cremers infuses a slight touch of magical realism in the tale, which makes one wonder if it would turn into full-fledged fantasy story with actual Gods and beasts, like “The Twisted Tree” by Rachel Burge, which was also set in Norway. But “Cold Front” remains rooted in reality and is an emotional read about reconnecting with family while coming to terms with grief, isolation and self-doubt.
It’s a 4 on 5 from me.