Sun and Sand is a fantastic new anthology zine from Radiator Comics and Black Josei Press. It collects ten mini comics from cartoonists living in south Florida, and explores the physical, emotional, cultural, and natural connections to the area. The artists guide readers through beaches, swamps, and the human communities woven into them.
Many of the comics in Sun and Sand explore this theme with a sense of humor: assertive cockroaches, an alligator presenting an HOA violation, animals feasting on a dropped mango while the neighbors argue over who it belongs to. But the story “Natural Scheme of Things” by Estrella Vega approaches the subject more somberly. This three page comic suggests that maybe people aren’t meant to be here, and mourns the cost paid by local wildlife in the efforts to make it habitable for humans. The comic ends with several silent panels showing water flooding into residential areas, reflecting the very real concern that rising sea levels present for the communities of southern Florida and coastal cities around the world. Vega asks, if the sea was always going to reclaim this place, what was the point of settling down here in the first place? This is a particularly profound question when one considers that both the draining of the swamps and the rising sea levels resulting from climate change and global warming are the direct result of capitalist industrialization.
But this push and pull, while integral to life surrounded by sea and swamp, is not the only story you should take away from Sun and Sand. The artists of this anthology are not going to let you forget the thriving communities of South Florida and those who have made a home here. Sun and Sand weaves through the high rises of Miami, and takes you scuba diving, fishing in the river, tanning on the beach. It takes you on a tour of flavors: mangoes, peaches, colada, croquetas, and pan con lechon. The small adventures of this 32-page zine are snapshots into the life that thrives here despite the shifting landscapes, both natural and constructed.
The final comic, “As Above, so Below” by Jamila Rowser and Carina Vo perfectly connects these concepts that are seemingly at odds by celebrating both the sea and what we have built around it. In this comic, a scuba diver takes a trip sponsored by Biscayne Natural Park. As they swim through the reefs and among the fish, they imagine they are floating through space, exploring a different world. Rowser and Vo expertly capture the feeling of continuing to discover a familiar place and the satisfaction that comes with finding wonders somewhere you may have spent your whole life. While many of the comics in this collection lovingly tease the places the artists call home, this is a pure and simple love letter that enables the reader to see the magic described in the final lines of the anthology.