Brief Cases, late trains, and small talk add up to what is probably the best comic of the year!
Credits & Solicit Info:
by Tom Taylor & Colin Wilson
With cover colour by Justin Randall
The award-winning play is finally a comic book!
Two people. A train station. An unattended Briefcase.
Prejudice versus Preservation.
In the war on terror, will suspicion and fear be the big winners?
"Like Watchmen, it uses a simple 9 panel grid on almost every page, but you won't even notice. I mean, this is just two people talking at an empty suburban space, yet you'll be lost in the world it creates." - Comic Book Jesus
The Example is indeed an example. It is an example of the simple brilliance of the comic book medium.
In its own way, it is like a French film. It is moody. It is not particularly action filled. In fact, the comic is nothing more than two people talking at a train station. If that doesn't scream pretentious avant garde, I don't know what does. At the center of it all, quite literally, is a briefcase.
Funny it should remind one of a French film, it is based on a short play. What Taylor's play is about is the reality we live in. What does an abandoned brief case in a train station mean? Is it an oversight by some absent minded businessman or is it something more sinister?
Taylor and Wilson collaborate to create one of the most tension filled comics I have ever read. What is amazing about that is the majority of the comic is a friendly conversation, small talk as two people wait for that delayed train. At the center of each nine panel grid is a briefcase that gets almost subliminally larger with each page. Like the eye drawn to that one panel on each page; the two characters, Sam and Chris, can't keep the conversation away from the case and what it means. Is it a bomb? Does their suspicion mean they are racist? Is it just a message implanted in their brains by an overzealous news media?
All of this arises from a conversation not more important than the weather really. Chris and Sam become real people right before our eyes and connect in the way that only humans can. It is a testament to the power of the script. No wonder the play it is adapted from has won all kinds of accolades.
The comic would not be near as compelling as it is without the expert art of Wilson. He uses a clean classic line that resembles the artistic child of Neal Adams and Howard Chaykin. This could easily be an old black and white book published by First Comics. Wilson finds interesting ways to fill the confines of one of the most conservative layouts for a comics page. It is a master work in pacing and composition filled with detail without resorting to the trick of cross hatching. The stark black and white is perfect and lends itself well to the noirish Strangers on a Train feel of the piece.
This is an eleven page masterpiece of a comic; the back matter gives great insight into the creative process and reveals that it is a teaser, if you will, for an anthology of similarly themed shorts entitled Brief Cases. If even half of them are as brilliant as this book, then it will be one of the greatest anthologies ever produced.
Review by: Lee Newman