I’ve been chronicling my path in the comic world for a while now.
One of the big turning points for me was going to the MCM Comic con in London last February.
It was my very first convention and through it I met lots of interesting people some of whom are now friends.
In the Artists Alley there were rows of tables of individual comic creators. One of the standouts was an exhibitor who had done his original art work as individual full size oil paintings. The proof was there displayed on an easel.
I knew that comic books offered all different sorts of styles and genres but had never seen one rendered in a skilful traditional style which looked like a Pre-Raphaelite masterpiece.
The opening pages of the book are woodcut illustrations on parchment style paper, reminiscent of an old fairy tale book.
Then we are treated to an exquisite sequence of silent panels in which our heroine wanders through a wood, a world she is clearly at home with. The paintings are so sensory… you can practically smell the earth and feel the stillness. The first dialogue is from a pair of ravens and is hand lettered in pen without a balloon.
This device is used throughout the book and demands more focused attention from the reader than a conventional graphic novel. It also preserves the integrity of the beautiful pictures because they aren’t rudely dissected by a patch of white.
The story unfolds as a conflict between the conservative, materialistic elves (depicted in the garb of high ranking Roman military) and the nature loving witches who are holding them back from ‘progress’.
The pace is filmic and the characters are cast with realistic, vivid characters. The colours evoke memories of the antique storybooks I loved as a child… rich and glowing.
There is a fantastic ‘splash’ page where the heroine is walking up a hill with a look of consternation, a cloudy vista behind her. Poetry.
Does this book belong at a comic convention? It’s hard to say. I think it deserves a readership that encompasses lovers of fine art as well as graphic novels. In the future it could even be an exhibition in itself.
I absolutely love it and am in awe of the work and dedication that has gone into creating it.
James is now a friend. A thoroughly nice guy and modest for someone of his talent. I hope his books will reach book fairs as well as comic conventions and inspire a new appreciation of traditional skills in the visual arts.
To find out more about “The Jaded Enemy” visit www.jamesesnelling.com.