Posted on: December 8, 2022 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

Featured image from Commons Comics

Sometimes we feel invincible. Other times we feel invisible.

Through powerful imagery and strong storytelling, Kristen Radtke’s graphic novel “Seek You” tells a story that hits close to home for us all: one of isolation.

Aidan McGuire

Multimedia Editor

The book, this year’s choice for Moraine’s One Book program, touches on themes of loneliness. The art style, consisting of monochromatic muted blues and greens, is impressive. The approach adds emphasis to areas that do in fact have color and draws the reader’s eyes to them.

Radtke uses photographs, maps and other items to add depth and complexity to her story. The pages feel 3-D at times with all the layering combined. 

The idea of negative space is a recurring motif throughout “Seek You,” with the empty spaces adding to the theme of loneliness. The minimal art style is another case of form enhancing meaning.

Some pages are almost entirely empty, with only a few words or images breaking the vast silence. Despite the bareness, each page comes together with an almost poetic flow. Page after page, everything connects, propelling readers through the book and leaving us constantly wanting to see more. 

Image from Commons Comics
This page of “Seek You” showcases Radtke’s minimalist art style.

The story centers around an almost autobiographical story of Radtke, while also conveying other stories of loss, grief and loneliness.

One of the standout elements of “Seek You” is the way Radtke uses abandoned places as a metaphor for the ways we grieve and move on from loss. Through her travels to abandoned cities, homes, and other forgotten places, she reflects on her own experiences with loss and explores the feelings of emptiness and longing that come with it. 

Throughout the book, Radtke struggles to come to terms with the death of her uncle and with her relationship troubles, as well as the broader sense of loss and dislocation that come with growing up and moving away from the familiar.

The book then ties these individual stories into the larger issues of loss and abandonment within our culture as a whole.

This is an incredibly timely piece. Every one of us has been impacted by COVID-19 over the past four years. Many of us have become isolated or had our lives upended, the ripple effects from the pandemic continuing to this day.

And any student at Moraine can connect to the feelings represented by this book. Being a young adult is a vulnerable time. The journey to accepting who we are–and the loneliness that comes along the way–is a major part of our lives as college students.

Radtke raises an interesting point: Being American translates to loneliness since we are expected to do things ourselves. She brings up the mythic American cowboy and how this rebellious symbol of rugged individualism only reinforces the loneliness we feel. The book also does a good job of discussing the physiological impacts of being social or antisocial, while still driving the plot forward. 

The story feels like it’s all over the place at times, which may confuse readers. The book brings in personal stories from Radtke, outsider perspectives, and an almost scientific amount of research at times. This lack of coherency is something that may confuse readers.

However, it is important to understand that this book centers around a theme rather than a specific story. The story of “Seek You” is derived directly from the feeling and effects of loneliness itself. Radtke is attempting to get us to understand this feeling further, and her writing and illustrations help achieve this goal.

“Seek You” truly connects to all of us on a multitude of levels. No matter who you are, or where you are in life, loneliness is something you will deal with at some point. It is something that has become internalized within our culture.

Radtke leaves us with hope for finding those human connections we so desperately seek. But she also gives us comfort in being alone.