Grinding It Out

Fans of the autobiographical work of Ryan Claytor and his And Then One Day series know that he’s been posting up a page a week for his last couple issues of the series. And Then One Day #9 is the third act in a trilogy framing a conversation about autobiography in comics between Claytor himself and Dr. Harry Polkinhorn. It began posting earlier today.

I thought I’d try something a little different with the New Year upon us. I’ll be reviewing the book, one page at a time, as it sees initial publication on the web in weekly installments. Keep in mind that I won’t have long to gather and form my ideas, I want to just capture my initial reactions to the pages and see what immediate thought-blogging impulsive insight that may offer. Here’s the first in a series of such reviews:

And Then One Day #9: Page 1 (Elephant Eater): Panel 1: I remember that the last page of the last issue left off with some type of mid-story cliffhanger involving Jodorowski, but not the specifics. It’s nice to have that memory jogged. I like this first panel because it feels like an atypical Claytor effort, in that it’s not a precise square or rectangle, but the cloudy panel border and vortex of internal line work gives it something obtuse, yet more rigid than a dreamlike effect, which suits the fact that it’s a character recounting a story from memory. It’s a nice touch that, I think, yields the intended effect in a way I’ve not seen before.

Panel 2: There are two things that really jump out at me here and both are pretty subtle little nuances in the art which I enjoy. In the foreground, we see Ryan clutching the straps of his backpack with both hands, and that just looks very realistic to me. That is exactly the way that low slung posture looks in real life, you can sense the weight of the arms coming in at just the right angle. It’s a convincing bit of life drawing. The second is something that I’ve been appreciating more and more in Claytor’s recent work, and it’s the backgrounds. I like the aged look of the building with the sparse stippling marks that create texture. That, along with the details on the pathway, lends credibility to the environments. I’m really noticing all of this extra little effort that goes into making the individual shots as effective and fully realized as possible.

Panel 3: I think this panel sells the whole page. Ryan has found a way to have the character’s physical stance match thematically with the information being verbally delivered. Polkinhorn is making the point that in order to succumb to the suspension of fictional disbelief and believe something to be real, one has to cease perceiving it as art. As he makes this statement, his hands gesture wide open to pierce the panel borders and pop with a Kirby style three-dimensional affectation. That is to say, Polkinhorn’s figure makes an effort to be more realistic and less like a flat two dimensional piece of comic art, thus allowing us to perceive this as more realistic, which helps prove his original point.


At 8:26 AM, Blogger Ryan Claytor said...

Hi Justin,

Thanks a bunch for your interest in my next book project. You've definitely been pickin'-up what I was throwin'-down on this first page. I'll be reading this weekly. (Whether or not I have time to respond each week w/ my teaching schedule will be another matter.) But, I really appreciate you doing this and I look forward to seeing some more of your single-page thoughts.

Looking toward the future, I'm interested in comparing these single-page reviews with the review of the entire book (And Then One Day #9), and then again with the entire collection (Autobiographical Converstions featuring And Then One Day #7, 8, & 9). In the meantime, thanks again.

All the best to you in the new year, Justin!

Ryan Claytor
Elephant Eater Comics

At 10:08 AM, Blogger Justin Giampaoli said...

Thanks Ryan, glad you enjoyed it.


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