The Pill­box

Life’s a beach and then you die

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Rated / Comics -

Re­lease Date: OUT NOW!

Pub­lisher: Jonathan Cape Writer/ artist: David Hughes

If ghosts are

crea­tures who’ve found a way to es­cape the trap­pings of time, then David Hughes’s latest graphic novel is a spook in book form.

The Pill­box cap­tures time, twists it, and re­con­structs it, to cre­ate a truly haunting ex­pe­ri­ence. We don’t want to spoil any el­e­ment of a plot that, like The Sixth Sense be­fore it, will make you want to ex­pe­ri­ence it again, so we’ll keep the de­scrip­tion vague.

It opens on the story of a young boy, Jack, who’s on a sea­side hol­i­day with his fam­ily. Jack meets another young man, Bill, af­ter ex­plor­ing a war- time pill­box, half- sunken in the sand of a Suf­folk beach. Their en­counter is brief, but has far- reach­ing con­se­quences, as the nar­ra­tive trav­els through time to tell Bill’s story.

The Pill­box is a cap­ti­vat­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, charm­ing, dis­turb­ing and stom­ach- churn­ing in equal mea­sure. At times, it al­most reads like an MR James tale, al­beit an MR James who’s been pos­sessed by the spirit of David Shrigley. That’s be­cause Hughes’s im­pres­sion­ist sketch- style art is as im­por­tant as the words in de­liv­er­ing this bleak story of a boy’s fate­ful day out on a beach, and the im­pact that day has on many lives.

Be warned: it might look like a pic­ture book, but this isn’t a kids’ comic, with adult themes loom­ing into view around the mid­point.

If ghosts are es­sen­tially mem­o­ries in hu­man form, then The Pill­box is a spirit made pa­per. Once you’ve en­coun­tered it, it’ll stay with you for­ever. Sam Ashurst David Hughes’s first reg­u­lar gig, back in the early ’ 70s, was il­lus­trat­ing a weekly cook­ery ar­ti­cle in the Daily Ex­press.

Dogs: bring peo­ple to­gether.

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