October 27, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

Preview of A.C. Esguerra’s ‘Eighty Days’ from Boom! Studios

“Eighty Days” is a book about flight, freedom and, above all, love.

The upcoming debut graphic novel from L.A.-based comics creator and illustrator A.C. Esguerra follows the stories of Jay, Fix and Sable. The historical romance sees Jay, a working pilot, questioning his understanding of the world and aspects of himself after meeting Fix, a mysterious and charming thief who runs into trouble with the establishment.

Esguerra received the PRISM Comics Queer Press Grant in 2016 for the novella-length version of the story. The “Eighty Days” graphic novel will be published by Archaia, an imprint of Boom! Studios. A first look at the book and its cover was revealed Friday.

“The novella is told almost entirely through the journal entries of Jay, the first pilot,” Esguerra explained in an email. “He has a clipped, brief writing voice that leaves a great deal up to the art to reveal, which means the broad strokes of a greater conflict with an oppressive regime are painted in the background of a simple, personal romance.”

Interior art from “Eighty Days” by A.C. Esguerra.

(A.C. Esguerra / Boom! Studios)

Expanding the story into a 336-page graphic novel allowed Esguerra to explore Jay’s world and its systems.

“It was great to use the vast space … [to also] express how Sable and Fix, the other two protagonists, move through the same world in completely different ways,” they added.

For the cover of the new book, Esguerra’s goal was to give Jay, Fix and Sable the full movie-star treatment and illustrate them “with absolute grand, sweeping beauty and romanticism.”

“Nostalgia for many books, comics, movies and other stories I have loved is present here,” Esguerra said of the painting. “It was also essential to convey the deep connection between Jay, Fix and Sable, and how their three narratives are woven into a single, continuous thread — hence the silhouettes of flight or the wind itself taking different forms.”

Esguerra began working on the full-length graphic novel version of the story just before 2016. Although many details of the plot were already written, they acknowledged that current events at the time heightened the significance of elements such as “free travel by air, ‘legitimate’ citizenry and personhood and the fear and anxiety of being a queer person of color in a hostile environment.”

“It became even more important to me to see this book through,” said Esguerra. “I see the ‘Eighty Days’ graphic novel as the complete expression of all the themes set up in the novella: the tendency of good intentions to become muddled, the cost of protecting what you hold dear, and most of all, despite it all, the endurance of queer love and friendship.”

“Eighty Days” is set for an August release. Here’s an exclusive first look at the book:

Comic book page with a young man smoking and another with headphones

Interior art from “Eighty Days” by A.C. Esguerra.

(A.C. Esguerra / Boom! Studios)

Comic book page with two young men

Interior art from “Eighty Days” by A.C. Esguerra.

(A.C. Esguerra / Boom! Studios)

Comic book page with two young men walking past intimidating figures in cloaks

Interior art from “Eighty Days” by A.C. Esguerra.

(A.C. Esguerra / Boom! Studios)

Comic book page with a plane flying

Interior art from “Eighty Days” by A.C. Esguerra.

(A.C. Esguerra / Boom! Studios)

Comic book page with young women and an airship

Interior art from “Eighty Days” by A.C. Esguerra.

(A.C. Esguerra / Boom! Studios)

Comic book page with a huddled figure

Interior art from “Eighty Days” by A.C. Esguerra.

(A.C. Esguerra / Boom! Studios)