The Lighthouse

By Paco Roca
Publisher: NBM
ISBN: 9781681120560

Set during the Spanish Civil War, The Lighthouse is the story of Francisco, a rifleman in the Republican guard attempting to flee to France to escape the fascists. Desperate and wounded, he is found floating in the sea by Telmo, the guardian of remote lighthouse, who takes him in and persuades him to stay, offering a refuge he believes Francisco won’t find elsewhere. Reluctant at first, Francisco is drawn into Telmo’s daily routines and captivated by his stories of the sea, often lifted from great works of literature. And slowly but surely he finds a peace with Telmo, until the war intrudes on their life.

Roca skilfully weaves a touching tale where one generation passes the baton to another, igniting the imagination and passion in his young guest that has been brutally blunted by the war and the actions he’s had to take. Telmo’s story is, at the end, a tragic one, but what he is able to do for Francisco is both noble and heroic. Rejuvenating Francisco’s outlook on life would have been a great action in itself, but he gives him so much more.

Roca’s art is achieved with an economy of line but never lacks depth or drama. The relationship between the young and old man, and the experiences they share, is portrayed with a clarity that brings the lighthouse and the little beach to life in such a way that you can feel the Mediterranean’s warmth despite the simplistic colour palette.

Altogether a powerful story you’ll want to return to.

And if you liked that: Take a look at Roca’s other work, Wrinkles.

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