Writer: Shawn Granger
Artists: Orlando Baez, Kenneth Landgraf
Publisher: King Tractor Press
I think calling the first issue of Family Bones ďunevenĒ would be a grave understatement. I canít say Iíve seen this problem before, but I found the layout and panel composition to be all over the place. A single panel from one scene might pop up in the midst of a completely different scene, and not in a way that balances two ongoing situations. Many panels just donít really follow logically from one to the next. I have to admit, Iím very tempted to cut out every panel and rearrange them at random just to see if the story reads any better that way.
Because right now, like the panel composition, the story itself is a bit of a mess. Characters pop in and out at random with no real introduction. When a few of them appear in a single scene, itís hard to tell them apart since the reader doesnít even know most of their names yet. It also doesnít help that the young protagonist, Sean, isnít named until three quarters of the way into the issue.
Sean gets dumped at his relativesí house while his parents go on vacation. Heís supposed to be taken to his grandparentsí house, but thereís an awkward transition from Sean riding in the car with his mom to Sean riding in the car to, presumably (sheís unnamed) his grandmother, who tells him that now sheís taking him to his aunt and uncleís. So heís with his aunt and uncle, and his uncle hates him for pretty much no discernible reason other than heís young and likes to play around with his lighter. The uncle randomly kicks the crap out of Sean and ditches him in the middle of an empty field on more than one occasion.
What does this issue have to do with being based on a true story? Beats me. The action is random and chaotic, which I guess is a pretty good mirror of real life. But seriously, it doesnít make any sense in the context of the story, mostly because there isnít any solid context. The cover claims to be ďThe First Bloody Issue,Ē but itís been pretty bloodless so far, unless weíre talking about the raccoon that gets shot at by . . . well, I donít know who that character was either.
Sometimes itís the simple things that matter: clean and geometric panels, character names, motivations, one scene at a time. The creators need to slow down and figure out first how to actually tell the story before attempting anything stylistic, daring or challenging to the production. Right now the only challenge for me is figuring out what it is I just read.
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