7.12.2011

Grinding It Out

And Then One Day #9: Page 26 (Elephant Eater): Panel 1: This panel wraps up the email exchange thread between Ryan and Dr. Polkinhorn. It’s interesting to note that Polkinhorn’s conclusion isn’t very tidy or definitive, and I actually like it more because of that fact. There don’t seem to be any empirical characteristics that make something significant autobiographically. It generally supports the theory that autobiography exists on the old continuum of truth and fiction that Ryan has been contending with for the latter part of the ATOD series. So much of it, inherently, comes down to the human level, to the intent and influence of the creator behind the story being consumed. At their creative discretion, they can choose what information to share, and how specifically to convey it. There are literally hundreds of factors involved in how it’s presented and what will resonate with a reader to consider it truthful, fictional, or significant, as Polkinhorn concludes.

Panel 2: One thing Ryan has always been good at is silent beat panels. This is a good example of that, letting Ryan, and us by extension, absorb what has just been read. In Ryan’s wide open eyes, you can almost sense him mentally working through what I just described above. He’s considering Polkinhorn’s words and seeing how that settles into his noggin.

Panel 3: I like this panel for a couple reasons. One, it’s at that infamous smaller figure scale that I’ve really been enjoying in this issue. It’s also a side profile shot, which Ryan typically doesn’t do a whole lot of. He usually tries to vary it and show ¾ turn shots instead. I like this simply because of its scarcity in his repertoire. This panel also has that (my words again, not his) diamond pattern background up top. It’s probably been the single most contentious element for me in this issue, yet I really like it in this specific panel. It almost feels like it’s dissolving along the lower edge, and receding toward the top. That sense makes it feel, to me, like it represents some mental thought process transpiring as Ryan continues to assess what he’s just read. It then evaporates out to…

Panel 4: This is a smart looking, wide open, half page panel that invites us in to examine the ambiguity of the conclusion that we’ve been discussing. Visually, it’s another great shot, texture, depth, etc., all the hallmarks we’ve come to expect in this issue. Yet, the thing I like about it is that tonally it’s contemplative. It allows us to walk away from the book still attempting to sort out what we think of our own lives. What is fiction? What is truth? How do we present ourselves? Not necessarily in the pages and panels of comics, but how do we present ourselves to the world? These are age old existential questions that are common to human existence. Ryan is tapping into something really primal here. Who are we? If you look at the work of more “classic” creators like Crumb, Seth, Jessica Abel, or even more contemporaries like Noah Van Sciver, Julia Gfrorer, or Lauren Barnett, it’s really the very definition of what (good) autobiographical comics are all about.

Well, this is the last story page of And Then One Day #9, and thus concludes our little experiment. I hope you enjoyed what is (if I do say so myself) a pretty unique way to review a comic, from a very unique creator. I’m honestly very excited to read the print version of the book. Holding a tangible product in my hands and consuming it in one sitting, as opposed to over an extended period of months, will be one of those variable factors I mentioned that skews the way a work of art is interpreted. It will be an entirely new experience in terms of pace, medium, and understanding. I’ll read it faster, on paper vs. on screen, and likely come away from it with a different impression. I’ll be sure to share it with you when I do. In the interim, do yourself a favor and stop by the Elephant Eater Comics booth (on a slick corner right across from Oni Press) if you’re attending the San Diego Comic-Con International next week. You can chat with Ryan yourself, pick up one of the limited print run copies of the issue, and if you’re there long enough, you’ll probably see me poking around too!

2 Comments:

At 8:01 PM, Blogger Ryan Claytor said...

Justin,

Thank you for all your patient and thoughtful comments over the past six and a half months. Having you review each page as it was created has truly been a unique and beneficial experience for me. I'm certain this took a lot of dedication on your part, as I can only imagine it was difficult to figure out something different to say about talking heads each week. *LOL* Yet somehow you did it eloquently and seemingly without effort.

As I mentioned in my final page post, your weekly reviews definitely helped me to see my pages from a new point of view and upped my artistic game. I really appreciate all the time you've devoted to this project. There will certainly be a print copy waiting for you @ Comic-Con International this year. :)

All the best,

Ryan Claytor
Elephant Eater Comics
www.ElephantEater.com

 
At 8:11 AM, Blogger Justin said...

My pleasure, Ryan. Can't wait to get caught up in person next week!

 

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