5.07.2008

Spotlight on Ryan Claytor

And Then One Day: Volume 1 (Elephant Eater): The first thing you’ll notice about Ryan Claytor’s self-publishing approach is superb attention to detail and a strong eye for graphic design. It’s obvious that Claytor has pondered his projects thoroughly and has worked out the kinks. His innovative details range from the sublime to the purely functional. Notice how a butterfly swirls up on an introductory page, trailing the first sentence of the indicia behind in an inventive way. On the more functional side, anyone who’s signed extensively on the con circuit knows that often times it’s a chore to find a suitable spot to place a signature or quick sketch, so Claytor built himself a page for that very purpose. Pretty cool! How come nobody else ever thought of that? Something else I really appreciated was this creator’s self-awareness about the common pitfalls of the genre. Sometimes the very mention of “autobiographical comics” can illicit a response that would suggest it’s a pejorative description. There are so many examples in this segment of the industry that have that brand of navel-gazing angst, typified by Claytor’s brief song parody. Claytor is confident enough to avoid that trap and offer superficially simply pages about seemingly average days that, instead of being mundane, provide little universal truths about man’s existence that anyone can identify with. In any given day, we all experience a series of minute triumphs and tragedies that define us. This work as a whole suggests that life truly happens in these small little moments, not the big events or grand spectacles that occupy our calendars. Life happens in the unplanned interactions with those around us, such as the meaning he draws from a random chat session online with a soldier serving in Iraq, who describes IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) very matter-of-factly. In this subtle way, the commentary in the work is reminiscent of the NBM book Ordinary Victories by Manu Larcenet. On the artistic side, Claytor is a strong panel to panel storyteller who has mastered the scripting concept of an isolated story beat. There are many examples of panels with no dialogue, where he pauses for a beat to achieve great emotional impact with the reader. He uses a wide variety of panel types that flow with an affable ease and would make a structure commentator like Scott McCloud very proud. And Then One Day is exemplary of the rare relevance and high production quality that the autobiographical genre is indeed capable of. Grade A.

2 Comments:

At 4:05 PM, Blogger Ryan Claytor said...

Wow.

Thanks so much for the really thoughtful review, Justin.

...and I'm glad it wasn't a D+. Ha-ha!

Take care,
Ryan :)

 
At 8:47 AM, Blogger Justin said...

Thanks for stopping by, Ryan!

 

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