ICv2 Stars: 4 (out of 5)
Posted by Nathan Wilson on December 8, 2016 @ 4:09 am CT
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: December 7, 2016
Creator(s): W. Maxwell Prince (writer), John Amor (artist), Kathryn Layno (colorist)
Format: 96 pgs., Full-Color, Trade Paperback
Age Rating: Mature
ICv2 Rating: 4 Stars out of 5
From the writer and artist of IDW Publishing's Judas: The Last Days original graphic novel comes an innovative and thought-provoking take on the graphic medium with One Week in the Library.
Organized into seven chapters for each of the seven days of the week, One Week in the Library is an original and creative graphic novel that questions many of the structures and tools cartoonists have devised to tell sequential stories. While each of the chapters can work as a standalone single issue or even mini-comic, taken as a whole, One Week in the Library is a fascinating experiment with character, identity, and the inherent DNA of graphic literature.
Centered on the Librarian, Allen, One Week in the Library borrows from notable Vertigo predecessors Unwritten and Fables, as the protagonist engages with literary and cinematic characters throughout the narrative. Within this paradigm, Prince and Amor debate the reality and significance of fictional universes and the stories that resonate with us.
Although the first two chapters, "Thursday" and "Friday," opt for a more traditional interpretation with Allen leaving his library and entering books or characters from the books arriving in the library to visit with him, "Saturday" is where One Week breaks with sequential visual storytelling and instead incorporates prose to explore the life of Marigold. Here, Prince and Amor achieve a sensitive and intriguing exploration of mental illness and how the borders of the fictional world bleed into Allen's very own.
The further utilization of infographics, tables, charts, maps, and mazes to shift the storytelling from simply panels and text illustrates how visual cues, dimensions, and space can be used successfully beyond grid-based storytelling.
When One Week is not testing the boundaries of the medium, it becomes an accessible and enjoyable tale due in large part to the work of Amor and colorist Layno. The style they have achieved calls to mind the work of Francis Manapul and the collaborative pencil and color work of Sean Murphy and Matt Hollingsworth--a distinctive, softer line given ambience by washed hues and watercolors. Add to that a striking cover by Frazer Irving, and One Week is a treasure of graphic art.
With so many aspects of One Week breaking the fourth wall, it is expected that some readers will see these as mere gimmicks with little emotional resonance or plot advancement for the Librarian. Furthermore, the relationship Prince and Amor have built with the audience with chapters such as "Saturday" and "Tuesday" in their awareness of dementia may seem unfulfilled with the conclusion appearing tacked on or a metafictional cop out--an ending that serves Prince more than the story itself. However, One Week's strengths and contributions rest more in the ways it challenges visual storytelling. These are experiments and discussions that will move the medium and industry further, and Prince and Amor should be commended for producing One Week as a platform for them.