What Did I Learn?
This comic, called The Boy With Nails For Eyes, is created and scored by Shaun Gardiner. It’s a Flash based comic with a lo-fi version and a high-fi fancy version with sounds and some animations. The piece above is from the prologue, which is a more poetic work that smacks of Shakespeare than the comic itself does.
Frankly, I’m not sure I can describe this comic and do justice to the experience of reading it. The boy of the comic is visually a touch odd, and his mother did some odd things in the first few pages that seemed odd from my perspective, too. Not so much what she did but how she did it, if that makes any sense. The boy begins to think about a girl in school and from there, the rest of Chapters 1 and 2 are far more symbolism than the more customary moment to moment transitions.
In Chapter 2, the boy recounts three dreams. Without spoiling them for you, I picked up a sense of stunted growth and the difficulties of life from these dreams. The imagery is wonderful with an almost story book quality. There is enough of a hint of menace that I found myself wondering if these dreams were portents of things to come or something more sinister. The boy is clearly troubled by something. And he’s lonely.
Here’s the best description, penned by the creator “The story is set in a grimy,
smoke-stacked town – a prison of brick and iron, swarmed over by an endless croaking of crows. It follows a boy called Bobby as he pursues a quest to the knotted heart of the world he lives in. There, lurking in a nest of shadows, waits a walking hunger.”
Now, this is what I would call a concept comic. Maybe it will turn into something else eventually but (to me) precious little is concrete. The full flash version is easier to follow and seems more true to the tone of the comic and makes for a better experience. I thought the music was especially effective in support of the comic and it helped pace the reading.
What Did I Learn?
Now some argue that once a comic goes into motion and music territory, it becomes a cartoon or a film or (insert your synonym here.) I tend to feel that comics need visible gutters; that space between moments where a reader must imagine the events that happened between panels and produce a narrative. (One panel comics are a special case; they tell a story in themselves and the other panels are implied.) Take away the gutters and you might still have a story – but it’s not a comic.
Now, you are free to disagree with this – it’s just my working rule of thumb. If you feel that music, sound effects and panel transitions have no place in comics, then read the lo-fi version. If you’d like to get the more intense version, go for the full version of The Boy With Nails For Eyes. Here’s a preview image from the next chapter, courtesy of Shaun…