Monday, 22 December 2014

Ogling ODY-C #1

Or a look at some interesting layouts in ODY-C #1
by Matt Fraction, Christian Ward, Dee Cunnifee, and Chris Eliopoulus; Image Comics

I'm a sucker for first issues. I love to at least try comics I've been looking forward to before budgeting realities force me back to tradewaiting. They are like these delicious little appetizers for comics I can't wait to read. And ODY-C, featuring writing by Matt Fraction and art by Christain Ward is pretty much the peanut buttercup of comics for me. So obviously I was going to read the first issue.

And, uh, wow, it's as good as I was expecting it to be. 

It's also a comic that has some pretty great layouts and comics which are worth taking a closer look at.

There will be *SPOILERS* below. You know, as much as a comic based on a 3000 yearold piece of literature can have spoilers. 

Probably the most exotic comics element in ODY-C is the 8 page gatefold which depicts the conquering Odyssia and her fellow warriors on the eve of Troiia's defeat. It is big and epic and ambitious and functions as an immediate mission statement that ODY-C is a big, epic, and ambitious comic. It also serves as a great statement about how important and dramatic the events of the Iliad (1ly-Ad?) were. It provides this really key bit of context: this really big, important war happened and now this other story can start. So this gatefold is pretty important and smart comics.

It's also noteworthy in that the otherside of the gatefold is a beautiful timeline of space-ancient-Greece and some wonderfully designed star charts acting as an atlas of the comics universe. As someone who loves comics inforgraphics I love these touches. More comics should show charts of information.

One of the things I find really exciting about creative teams that involve Christian Ward is he often uses elaborate layouts that are constructed around the theme of the narrative. This layout is probably my favourite example of this from ODY-C #1. The story here is that the ODY-C, the Swiftship of Odyssia, is wracked by some sort of divine/cosmic phenomenon that blows the ship off course. The crew panics, which is apparently disruptive to the function of the ODY-C, as Swiftships seem to run on crew consensus. This page here depicts Odyssia marshalling her crew to work together to bring the ship under control. What I love about this page is that we see Odyssia, in her piloting-hood thing in a circular panel that functions as the focal centre of the layout, around which we see a ring of crew pulling together to correct the flight of the ship. It's a layout that beautifully illustrates the theme of the crew working together under Odyssia. I also love how the ODY-C can be seen tumbling across the page wildly before stabilizing in the bottom right. The way the ship is shown flailing across the page, regardless of panels or events, helps sell how wildly the ship is moving and how disconnected it is from normal comics behaviour and phenomenon. It's really great stuff.

I am also pretty excited about this page of comics and how it uses a more traditional grid structure in innovative ways to create a pretty nifty action sequence. The key to this page is, I think, that the underlying 12 panel grid is used explicitly in the composition. In the first row, the scene is set with a row of three panels with a nested panel. The three panels discretely separate Odyssia from the Cicone raiders and create this panelled physical space between them. Which is eliminated in the second row of the 12 panel grid where Odyssia and the Cicone collide in the centre panel. The way these two rows of panels interact make the start of combat feel visceral and quick; they convey the sensation of charging soldiers. I also really like the use of the nested panels that float above the grid, that really punch up and complicate the action, adding impact and chaos to the design. However, it's the bottom two rows of the underlying 12 panel grid where this page gets really nifty. In the third row of panels Odyssia kicks one of her opponents through the panel gutter, which is totally rad. It feels impactful and really showcases that Odyssia is sufficiently powerful to break the laws of comics. In the final row of panels we see the broken gutter-stubs from the previous row reused as position markers for horizontal difference. These stub markers are used to show that Odyssia has advanced further to the right than in the previous row of panels. Which is really smart. This bottom row of panels also takes advantage of the down-left carriage return from the previous row of panels to make the reader start the bottom panels from the far left. This means that the reader cruises across the page in the direction of Odyssia's leap, which in another flourish of comics-rule breaking, takes her clear off the page. Which is also pretty rad. This is just a really technically smart page that uses and subverts comic grid structure to make a pretty compelling action sequence. It's great comics.

So ODY-C is a comic that I think everyone should try. If ODY-C #1 is any indication, this is going to be a really exciting series. That said, I might tradewait ODY-C. Don't get me wrong, I REALLY liked the first issue! I just found it had a very distinctive voice, both in the writing and art, which I found took some time to really get traction on. I feel like this a strength of ODY-C, but I also feel like it will maybe make the comic more rewarding to read in a bigger chunk. But you should definitely check it out and make that judgement for yourself.

I can't wait for the first trade.

No comments:

Post a Comment