Cartoonist: Dave Chisholm
Publisher: Z2 Comics
WHAT IS IT?
A multi-platform experience, the story of a man and a cursed object, accompanied by a jazzy, themed soundtrack.
The cursed object story is kind of like Palahniuk's Lullaby or Netflix's Velvet Buzzsaw, but there aren't many comics with their own official soundtracks, or that mess with the mediumm as much as this one does.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Tom is...well, he plays the trumpet. Not great. But hey, not terribly!
He plays with his bandmates at the place down the street. Been doing it for years. They haven't really had talent agents breaking down their doors (or much attention at all), but his bandmates seem like they don't need that, anyway. For them, it's about the experience.
Not for Tom. Tom wants to get better. To do more than just jam. but he can't do that with his current bandmates or skill level.
But, when a mysterious stranger gives him an old trumpet, he begins to play like he's never played before. But it doesn't come without consequences. Losing hours of his night. Strangers chasing him down. People within earshot of his music dying suddenly.
But none of that bothers him. As Tom descends deeper into the madness of sleep deprivation and obsession with the feeling of creation, he may become instrumental in something much more serious than he knows.
Dave Chisholm is one talented cartoonist
Not only did he write, illustrate, and letter this comic, he was also the composer of the soundtrack, and played the trumpet & synth, as well as lended his voice and some clapping to the mix
Beyond his roles, Chisholm created a mind-bending comic that uses the medium in a way you simply can't for any other medium, like TV or film (see below for an example)
His discussion of creativity and whether striving to be the "best" is the right way to approach it was a good and interesting theme to touch on
You may or may not see a 290-panel splash inside
Also, I personally loved his comparison of band members and their roles to that of a flower arrangement
Though there is no color, Chisholm did well to use traditional and untraditional techniques in a way that really would only have made color a bonus, anyway
Outside of the obvious (i.e. the medium-bending pages and panels), his dark and detailed rain scenes and the chiaroscuro in the final chapter were the best examples of this
The lettering work was well done, in an unobtrusive sort of way
While it usually didn't do anything out of the ordinary, it also didn't take you out of the story, which is good
There is one scene, toward the end, where the lettering becomes a part of the art, and it leads the reader through an elaborate page layout that I would call the most impressive example of Chisholm's lettering
The soundtrack to the comic is a novel experience, and adds a depth and life to the comic
It's atmospheric, and has loads of personality and flair without demanding too much attention, allowing you to read and listen at the same time
Though I don't know much about music, especially with regards to trumpets and their challenges of playing them, the trumpet in the soundtrack was lively and seemed like it was played well and at a high level
Speaking of the trumpet, I thought it was a good point that it was accompanied by other instruments, and that a trumpet alone couldn't carry the entire album, and how that's a metaphor for Tom and his bandmates
Also want to note that in most chapters, the reading of the comic and the length of the songs lines up pretty well
If you read more slowly, consider playing each song on repeat for the length of the chapter
If you're easily distracted, I'd maybe listen to each song before reading the corresponding chapter, just to set the tone
Dave's note from the author also goes into this a little and gives credit to his bandmates
This album will definitely become part of my personal writing soundtrack!
Instrumental plays the long game, and we see the attrition Tom's sleep deprivation plays getting worse and worse in his body language and the bags under his eyes
Even more impressive is the foreshadowing to future events in the peripherals of Tom's social media (hints he pays no attention to because he's too self-obsessed)
WHAT DOESN'T WORK?
While the story and overall experience was phenomenal, and the color absolutely wasn't necessary, I do think a moody, well-defined color palette could propel this comic well into the stratosphere
Tom isn't a sympathetic character but, for creatives types, you may see some of yourself in his desire to be better by any means necessary
Scenes of death may mean this isn't a great book for kids
It's currently priced at $16.99, which is on the expensive end for an indie/small press comic
I'd still say it's worth it, however
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
This jazzy multimedia experience is more than a comic book. It's a music-themed, apocalyptic psychological thriller that uses the comic book medium in ways very few other creators do. And it's all from the mind of a single cartoonist. A truly impressive comic and a must-read.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Let's Go to Utah by Dave Chisholm
Phonogram by Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie
Secret Path by Jeff Lemire & Gord Downie
If you like the art:
The Incal by Alejandro Jodorowsky & Moebius
Scratcher by John Ward & Juan Romera
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Dave Chisholm – Cartoonist, Composer, Trumpet, Synth, Voice, Claps
Multitalented: Wrote, illustrated, and lettered this entire graphic novel as well as composed its soundtrack and played other instruments
Music Lover: Has a doctorate in jazz trumpet
Award Winner: His music has received many awards and accolades, and I have a feeling his comics will, too
HOW DO I BUY IT?
Click one of these:
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