By Daishu Ma. Published by Fantagraphics.
Hardcover, 96 pages, 2-Colour, 2015.
A brightly glowing leaf effects change in this wordless graphic novel.
How much power does a single man, let alone a single leaf, have in the industrial world? In this wordless, all-ages graphic novel, our protagonist discovers a leaf that radiates a vibrant light. He returns to a detailed metropolis — depicted in somber grays and blues — and searches for answers. During his quest, he stumbles upon a man who knows what’s really happening in the city’s labyrinthine ducts; a woman who spends her life studying and classifying obsolete flora; and the truth about the ever-dwindling environment. Leaf is a graphically stunning story that unfolds with a dream-like pace. Shaded in pencil and punctuated by spot colors, drawn in a delicate but concretely realized tonal approach reminiscent of Shaun Tan’s The Arrival and Chris Van Allsburg’s Jumanji, Chinese cartoonist Daishu Ma’s first foray onto American shelves is ultimately a hopeful vision of the coexistence of the urban and natural worlds.
“Starred Review: A single moment has the power to change us forever, and this idea is at the heart of this remarkable wordless graphic novel. ... This stunning graphic novel will draw inevitable comparisons to Shaun Tan’s The Arrival for its exquisitely drawn artwork and imaginative silent execution. The author’s pencil drawings are beautifully rendered and highly detailed, done almost entirely in grey but punctuated by a judicious use of color. The author lingers on poignant scenes that define what makes us human: neighbors gathering around the rare beauty of a tree covered with lights, or the memories triggered by the innocence of youth captured in a childhood photo. Even with all its languorous, wending turns, readers will easily follow the larger themes surrounding the cost of industry. Simultaneously cautionary and celebratory, this will enchant readers of all ages.” — Summer Hayes - Booklist
“Reminiscent of Raymond Briggs' seminal 1978 classic, The Snowman, Leaf is told entirely through images. Perfect for nearly any age, Ma's story is set in a dirty, industrialized city, in which a young man finds a glowing leaf, and tries to harness the power of its natural beauty. Magically drawn in colored pencil, Leaf is at times breathtaking, an undeniable achievement made all the more impressive for its total wordlessness.” — Zach Hollwedel - Under the Radar
“A magical wordless narrative in soft pencil lit with bursts of blue and yellow, this will draw parallels with Shaun Tan’s The Arrival for its form, its style, its fantastical nature and its social metaphor.” — Stephen L. Holland - Page 45