At Last the Light
Written by Simon Birks, with art and colours by Anna Wieszczyk, and letters by Rob Jones. Published by Blue Fox Comics.
The Firth of Forth is a fjord in Scotland that flows between Edinburgh to the South and Fife to the North. Within the Firth there are several islands and as you pass over on the famous Rail Bridge you can see them more closely. Many are covered with buildings and fortifications – remnants of military emplacements from across the centuries. Like little static battleships they sit as sentinels against invasion. Keeping us safe.
For others they served as both prison and sanatorium. Inchkeith island is one of the largest in the Firth, it once served as a quarantine post for incoming ships suspected of harbouring the plague. Later it was a place to isolate syphilis sufferers until their death.
My own personal memories of the islands are not as grim as these. I once ate three twixes in an afternoon on nearby Inchcolm Island and recall Anneka Rice dropping from a helicopter onto some of the small islands beneath the Rail Bridge on one of her televised treasure hunts.
A less pleasant hunt faces Eliza when she is dispatched by her father to Inchkeith Island to investigate why the lighthouse no longer shines as brightly as it should. The lighthouse keeper cannot be found but a mysterious woman appears in the lighthouse. What else dwells on the island?
At Last the Light is a look at disease, isolation and the madness it can kindle in the human heart. Firmly in the tradition of gothic literature like Wuthering Heights that draws connections between the intensity of passionate love and the unleashing of forces beyond our ken. The mist shrouded, isolated island is the perfect setting, providing an atmosphere that kindles fear and unease.
Artist Anna Wieszczyk makes great use of light effects as befits the title. Fires crackle, lamps glow and the great beam of the lighthouse illuminates. The light is always at risk of being swallowed up by the grey, green and lilac tones of the night.
Rob Jones, lettering hero of the British comics scene, does his usual sterling job whether on dialogue, journal pages or sound effects.
At Last the Light is an enjoyable gothic romance with a Scottish twist that deserves to find an audience and would appeal to the young adult demographic in particular. That said, it is not a million miles from the type of story that would have run in the likes of Misty or even Mandy back in the 70’s heyday of British girls comics – so no doubt there are some younger readers who could also appreciate it.
Inchkeith Island is technically part of the Kingdom of Fife and I am delighted to see the arrival of the Fife Gothic genre.
At Last the Light is published by Blue Fox Comics. It will be coming to Kickstarter in late March 2022.