Joe Latham’s Haru is a title I only discovered in the last few weeks with the launch of issue #3 at The Lakes Comic Art Festival but there was definitely something from the glimpse at those covers that cried out “Read me”.
It tells the story of small Blue Bird Haru as they journey through their life of family, friends & loving school, but the wider world has them dreaming of a life outside the valley where they live. The bullying at school for them is a key factor in unsettling those dreams they have but with their Mother, brother Goose & friend Yamu (the pig), they manage to keep upbeat enough to cling to the possibilities.
The sanctity of the Valley and Haru’s mix of daily school struggles & closeness with his family allows us a glimpse of just what Valley life is like but the burning desire for more is fueled with the arrival of a strange darkness that takes Haru and Yamu into a whole new adventure for the friends to face. Trying their best to juggle this new purpose among the day-to-day aspects they are both swept up in trying to do more to tackle the darkness that’s threatening everything they love.
Joe’s fantasy adventure is instantly likeable with it’s nostalgic air and cute style but that surface then gives way to a deeper & more meaningful tale of love, life, family, friends and the lengths you’d go to in order to protect that. That’s then bolstered by the message that anyone can make a difference even in the face of a challenge that seems beyond them which gives the events a real sense of purpose for every character involved.
The central duo are key in making that the hook it needs to be and with the blend of everyday life and adventure there’s a great story evolving across every page. There’s then the glowing artwork that graces every panel and this fantasy world is given a tangible edge that draws you in further and further with every page turn. That writing/art combo shows that Joe has nailed it on pretty much every level and with Haru ending up feeling like the comic book equivalent of a hug…..it’s too damn hard not to hug back. Engaging, inventive and just beautiful in it’s execution…..I need more of this title very soon…..and more of Joe’s work too.
Head over to Joe’s website to find out more about this and all his other creative projects and check out his Etsy store and Gumroad to get your hands on his comic work. You can also check in with him over on Instagram & Twitter too.