By Rebecca Benson
I have been eagerly awaiting this special issue when Mad Cave Studios first announced it on social media. I’m glad you asked why! As an educator with the Deaf/Hard of Hearing–and having graduated from an interpreting program–I am thrilled to see that Pantomime is a story about a group of deaf kids. They’re pushed to muster their strengths together to help a friend in a trying predicament.
Heavier topics such as loss, acclimation, inclusion, and determination are woven throughout the story. Haley is deaf from birth, and her brother Max is hearing. Haley is chronicling this season of her life via a digital journal. Soon after a family loss, they find themselves at a new school for Special Needs. Haley and Max are warmly welcomed by friends, friends that have narrowed the communication gap by knowing and using ASL (American Sign Language). After a perceived wrongdoing by a teacher, the group thinks up a plan to make it right. However, a fellow friend is caught in a dilemma she can’t face all on her own. Following on the heels of their first successful mission, the group decides to take on a bigger challenge. And it’s a challenge that takes teamwork and practice. Enter the plot twist at the end that forces the kids to make a difficult choice.
Kudos to this stellar Mad Cave team! The story by Christopher Sebela is exceptional. Sebela intertwines feelings and emotions that are current in today’s younger generation; especially, the need to experience their purpose in life. I was curious to see how the creators would incorporate such a visual language that is American Sign Language. I am thrilled to say that Artist David Stoll, Letterer Justin Birch, and Colorist Dearbhla Kelly have done precisely that! The dialogue pertaining to those who are hearing, using their voices, uses nondescript characters. In contrast, the interactions involving sign language have a designated and unique bubble that originates near the character’s hands. Adding to this visual is the artist’s rendering of a set of directional lines, most of which are highlighted. This technique indicates the hand movement for that particular sign.
I am awed and amazed by Pantomime! As aforementioned, I was slightly skeptical at how a reader would be able to read American Sign Language. However, Pantomime delivers! This comic permeates into both the hearing and D/deaf worlds. Neither community is left out–which also appears as one of the many themes in Pantomime. The same goes for readers; one does not need to know ASL to enjoy this comic! Teen to adult readers are in for great pleasure in reading this one!
Rating: FIVE Pastrami Nations out of FIVE
ALSO, watch the Sign Language review!
Rebecca Benson currently resides in the mountains of California. A mother of one daughter, she has a love for pop culture, with a knack for Disney, Harry Potter, and is currently an educator for the hearing impaired. An avid reader, she jumped deeper into the world of comic books in 2020, with her interest piqued in the independent scene.