Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Daybreak by Brian Ralph

(Bodega, 2006-2008)

Brian Ralph has long been a favourite of mine in the comic world. His illustrations manage to tow the line between simple and intricate perfectly and his minimalist palette of yellows, browns and greens seems signature-Ralph at this point. A perfect style.

I've been thinking recently about his 3-part zombie series Daybreak, lately, and the innovations it brings to the table visually. Daybreak doesn't take much if any time to get oriented to, but it's the first time I've ever encountered a comic book written in the second-person.

That it operates so seamlessly is a testament to Ralph's skills. Some may argue that it's in first person because the image viewpoint is a first-person view (akin to first-person shooters in the gaming world), but I think it quickly reveals itself as second-person, both in image and narrative.

An example can be better viewed in the panel below: a one-sided conversation where the character interacting with us uses the second-person pronoun "you" while looking out of the panel--implicating the reader.

This furthered by the lack of internal dialogue: the absence of "I", which leads to a sparse and poetic story-line.  The added beauty of this approach is that the internal dialogue indeed rests with the reader.  Our thoughts become an important interactive text in the books.

I thought it was a wonderful experience.

The work, like all of Ralph's work, maintains childlike qualities--this is by no means a horror title, despite the zombies--but it is also much more sophisticated than one might expect, both in its construction and its emotional narrative.

A beautiful series with an interesting twist; something essential and satisfying for comic book fans anywhere.

1 comment:

BHodges said...

Great review, it really gave me a feel for it.