Cartoonist: JWC Publisher: Self-published
WHAT IS IT?
The first issue in a 7-issue anthology about "the irretrievable past, the opaque future, and the choices available in the moments in between the two."
Each issue follows different characters and different stories. This one follows Delilah as she tries to cope with grief and loss.
In that way, it's a little like the film, Reign Over Me, but even more of a slice-of-life, moment-in-time.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Delilah's memory is perfect...or the closest thing to it.
While that sounds like it might be helpful for remembering where you put your keys or playing cards, it's a little more of a curse than a blessing. Her memory is so good that it causes her to relive childhood traumas as if they're happening to her in the present. The constant anxiety is like a wound that won't close. It feels too much for Delilah, who struggles to differentiate between the present and the events of her past.
Firstly, JWC's art style is beautiful and melancholic. The style has a heavy manga/anime influence, and though the art was created in Photoshop (except for the blue flowers, which were generated and applied with an algorithm JWC wrote), the pages feel almost as if they were painted.
JWC hooks you right from the first page with big feelings and a mystery of what happened in Delilah's life to make her feel that way.
The end of the issue revisits the ocean theme Delilah sets forth on the first page. Not only is this a great way to bookend the monologue that is this issue, but it also mirrors the cyclical qualities of Delilah's memory, always coming back to the same feelings and experiences.
It's fascinating watching Delilah try to anchor herself in the present with a mantra, reminding herself how old she is, what the date is, and that everything is OK. It also reveals a little more about Delilah in the beginning of the issue and serves to show how unsuccessfully she's coping toward the end of it.
Borderless balloons keep the eye on the art and the line work so that everything feels elegant and deliberate.
The issue is pretty evenly paced, based on a traditional 9-panel grid system. It's really interesting when it starts changing its formatting, drawing some moments out or breaking them down into smaller and smaller panels within a larger panel to represent flashes of other memories. I've put an example below – it's a really clever way of using the medium while adhering to a fairly strict style.
The infinity mirror analogy Delilah uses is especially poignant and, when you see the mailboxes lined up in a similar fashion a few pages later, you remember it and you think about how badly she's hurting at that moment.
The blue flowers that make an appearance in this comic are forget-me-nots, which is so sad, yet appropriate for the story.
Each issue is only 99¢, which feels like a steal for an emotional ride of this quality.
Each issue of the Lost Time series was originally based on the color palette of one of the 7 rooms in Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death”
WHAT DOESN'T WORK?
Readers who may be sensitive to stories about reliving emotionally traumatic moments may want to avoid this one.
A key theme is the confusion Delilah feels as her memories mix up her past and present constantly. There isn't much to signal a flashback or tell you when events take place, which can be confusing to the reader with all the jumping back and forth. However, I think that works to suit the narrative – we, as the reader, feel similar to how Delilah must feel.
That being said, a lot of the characters look very much alike. I know they're family, but with all the time jumps, and the confusion with those, it can add another layer of difficulty when interpreting each scene. Especially for readers who buy the issue without reading a summary first.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Lost Time #1 is a beautiful and heartbreaking exploration of grief, loss, and the inability to heal from either. It's an idea that's hard to think about because you can imagine it happening in real life. You know there are people with extraordinary memories, and JWC does an exemplary job of showing how traumatizing these memory loops would be. It's a story that weighs heavy on you long after you've finished reading it. To me, that means it's a job well done.
HOW DO I BUY IT?
The "Lost Time" series is digital-only. Click one of these to read it:
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