On The Run: Path

Posted by on February 20th, 2010 at 6:10 AM

Rob reviews PATH, a fantasy/fable graphic novel by Gregory S. Baldwin (Com.X).

Gregory Baldwin’s PATH had all the elements necessary to be a memorable all-ages fantasy story in the vein of BONE, but never quite came together. The concept is simple enough: an anthropomorphic rabbit, fleeing for his life from any number of predators in a perilous canyon, happens to meet up with an anthropomorphic blind elephant trying to leave the canyon. The rabbit offers his eyesight in exchange for a way out, and they encounter an ever-escalating series of dangers as the story proceeds.

The character design is clever, with exaggerated eyes, clumpy limbs, floppy ears and a nuanced understanding of gesture. The book has two significant problems: frequently incoherent depiction of action and a distractingly muddy grey wash. The two problems were related, as there were several big splash pages featuring some new menace that were difficult to decipher because the panel was simply too dark and cluttered to make out what was happening. In a story that was essentially one long chase scene, it was crucial that there should be a continuous sense of flow–both in terms of panel-to-panel and page-to-page.

Instead, Baldwin’s insistence on splash pages froze the action again and again, halting the story’s momentum in favor of images designed to inform the reader about how much danger our heroes were in. If he had used clearer images to depict these menaces, it might not have slowed the story down so much. Instead, the reader got a weird stop-and-go set of images, which unfortunately helped to reveal that there wasn’t much story behind the action on the page. What’s unfortunate is that Baldwin’s character designs were strong enough on their own to not need a lot of extra embellishment. I would have loved to have seen his original pencils for the story, because I’m guessing that they told the story just fine on their own. That extra layer of slickness, combined with a number of other storytelling decisions, is what prevented PATH from joining the ranks of well-executed fantasy stories.

Be Sociable, Share!

Tags: ,

Comments are closed.