In this allegorical, fantastical graphic novel, a queer young woman aims to dispel the greed and cruel masculine energy that has consumed the world.
Once, the world lived in harmony. People trusted and aided each other, dreamed freely, and communed with their ancestors. And then one day the eggs appeared. One thousand black eggs, heavy as pure lead, which by some mystical property, provoked greed and violence in all who came in contact with them. A family of brutish men managed to hoard the eggs and build a misogynistic dynasty that held all of the land in an iron grip. Years later, Arna, an orphaned young woman immune to the beguiling power of the eggs, is charged with a monumental mission: hunt down these formidable men, pilfer their eggs, and release the bright from the heavy. Along the way, she falls for the enchanting Sela, who shows her how beautiful the world can be.
In The Heavy Bright, masterful cartoonist and animator Cathy Malkasian propels the reader into a lushly watercolor, Ghibli-esque fantasy world tinged with equal parts whimsy and menace. Her characters are vulnerable and relatable, made real through deep, psychological underpinnings. Perhaps Malkasian’s most ambitious and impactful work to date, The Heavy Bright is an allegorical graphic novel that grapples with the themes of greed, corruption, ignorance and bigotry, toxic masculinity, female empowerment, gender and queerness, love, death, and the urgent necessity for all to come together to heal our ailing world.
About the Author
Cathy Malkasian is an animation director and cartoonist. Her credits include Rugrats, The Wild Thornberrys film (for which she received a British Academy Award nomination), and most recently, over 20 episodes of Curious George for PBS since 2008. Fantagraphics has released several of her graphic novels including Percy Gloom (2007), Temperance (2010), Eartha (2017), and NoBody Likes You, Greta Grump (2021).
Malkasian’s “once upon a time” parable infuses a Handmaid’s Tale–type set-up with surrealistic charm and bittersweet resolution, reminiscent of Studio Ghibli’s work. Highly recommended for fantasy connoisseurs.
— Library Journal (Starred Review)
This smart, surrealist work has the appeal of Handmaid’s Tale crossed with Tim Burton. ... Endlessly imaginative worldbuilding.
— Publishers Weekly
Chronicles of Narnia meets The Handmaid’s Tale in this gorgeous allegorical epic.
— Electric Literature
In a bit of juxtaposition with the hardness in the state of the world, the events of [The Heavy Bright] play out in a soft, impressionistic landscape among animated characters in a style recalling Malkasian's work on shows such as Rugrats. For readers who enjoy philosophy in their graphic novels.
What works is the world Malkasian has created: soft, swooping vistas seen from a variety of perspectives and frames as rich as the diverse and eccentric cast of characters, and epitomizing the message of the small and local and true being truly the biggest things.
— Broken Frontier