Friday, 3 July 2015

Deep Sequencing: Openings Are Always Cold On The Moon

Or a look at the fantastic cold open n Shutter: Vol. 1
by Joe Keatinge, Leila Del Duca, Owen Gieni, and Ed Brisson; Image Comics

First impressions are important. I mean, ultimately people and stories will be judged by their content, but before all that, they live or die by first impressions. A cover can get someone to pick up a book or comic, a well delivered opening line of prose can hook a reader, and a great opening page of a comic can instantly transport a reader to a fiction world. When first impressions are well made with fiction the reader is invested from the opening moment and bought in to the ongoing story. 

Leveraging first impressions is interesting to me. I mean, it's been more than a year, but "A screaming comes across the sky", the opening sentence of Gravity's Rainbow, still has its hooks in me and captures the spirit of that Matterhorn of prose. Or the opening of Bitch Planet, which is a simple seeming intro that is really a wonderfully layered and granular machine that provides the reader with everything they need to know about the setting and themes of the comic. Or the opening to Shutter which...

...which I want to take a closer look at.

Okay. So Shutter Vol. 1. You open the comic and bam!

This is what you see. The barren, cratered desert of the moon, a field of stars, and a child in retro-sci-fi spacesuit asking to go home like it isn't a big deal on a double page spread. Bam! Pa-Zow!

It's kind of perfect.

Shutter is a comic that plays with the tropes of genre adventure stories in an imaginative, brilliantly crazy world. Ninja ghost assassins led by a steampunk robot riding a chicken-monster-thing have a fight in the middle of a city with police driving flying saucers. Minotaur business men ride the subway to work. Shutter is a comic filled with a riot of wonder that gleefully defies logical rules and begs for us to buy into the fun and mayhem. This double page spread captures the spirit of this perfectly. The cheerfully bright spacesuit, with it's impractical, exaggerated form and child proportions, casually running on the moon is a bold, crazy image. It's an absurd image and, since sending humans to the moon is one of the pinnacles of human technical achievement,  a very powerful one. The huge size of the splash makes it feel huge and impressive and epic. And yet, here is this kid expressing boredom. This is amazing, yet the kid just wants to go home. Which creates the unspoken question: what else is happening in this world that makes standing on the moon seem mundane. I would argue that this doublepage spread, this single image, absolutely nails the spirit of Shutter: we have raw, unadulterated wonder mixed with fantasy, a character jaded by it, and the promise of wilder things to come. Seeing it I instantly had an impression of Shutter and knew I was going to enjoy it. 

So I turned the page again.

And was pleased with what I found.

Shutter Vol. 1 has a brilliant cold open and has a story that lives up to it.

Post by Michael Bround

So I Read Shutter

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