A beautiful weave of surrealism and creative story telling.
When illustrator Melissa Pagluica originally had an idea of a story inspired by Norse, (and a little Irish) mythology she originally hesitated in developing her idea; but when she came back and developed the story she had in mind the result was a unique, creative and beautiful title.
Above The Clouds is the story of young Lady Eily, a spirited lady of the court who does not always do what a lady is supposed to and often finds her in trouble because of it.
When the warrior Cian gives her a book one day, what she finds inside sparks her imagination and sets the stage for a creative story and friendship.
Above The Clouds is two stories in one. First there is Elie and Cian’s story, and then there is the story in the book. Elie and Cian’s story is one without dialogue, and is told through their actions, writing and expressions. The story in the book is filled with dialogue, narrative and surreal surroundings and creatures that all relate to it’s underlying theme.
That is about as much of the plot or character details as I’m going to give as giving too much away before reading Above The Clouds would ruin some of it’s magic.
The look of the title is quite different from standard comic books in both its design and flow. It does not have heavy inking or shading, but uses soft, light colours. Even the standard panel layout that comic books usually have is gone. Despite the absence of these standard comic book elements, Above the Clouds is easy to read and follow. Pagluica cleverly lays out her colour and structure so that no detail is lost, while keeping the pages from having a flat dull look.
The title has more illustrated elements than standard comic fare. “I’ve been an illustrator for so long, and have a strong sense of what feels right for myself when drawing” Pagluica said “It was a natural transition to carry over my strengths in comic book form.’ She says that the look was very intentional as she felt that doing heavy line work would have slowed the whole process down. “I’m a soft person myself,” she said when asked about this “and I think it is reflected in my choice of line and colour.”
Although the title looks as though it was done with a brush and watercolour paints, it is done digitally using Photoshop. “My colouring technique has been streamlined from my usual illustrated works. I usually work using both Painter and Photoshop, but have kept to Photoshop only.” The title is released page by page weekly, and has a smooth continuous flow to it. Pagluica maintains the flow by knowing how her story will end and putting a lot of thought into how she sets up her title. “It isn’t so much the drawing that slows me down, but taking time to think about how the story will flow from panel to panel.” She said “Creating layouts for comic pages is an art form all it’s own.”
Above the Clouds is a title that could quite easily translate into an illustrated book, and while Pagluica does, (sadly) have plans for an end to the title she does have good news for fans,
“I have amazing dreams of a beautiful hardcover bound version of Above the Clouds, so plans of a Kickstarter campaign towards the end of my project will be in the works.”
Other good news is that as she completes chapters Pagluica releases them in a printed comic version that can be ordered here: If you’re looking for a break from standardized comics or would like to add a creative title to your weekly reads, then you will definitely want to follow Melissa Pagulica’s Above the Clouds.
John Goodale is the author of ‘Johnny Gora’ (available through Amazon.com), and a number of articles here on TMRZoo.com. His monthly column ‘Indy Comics Spotlight’ appears here and through his blog Indy Comics Spotlight