Friday, June 26, 2009

It Tolls for Thee OGN

BONG BONG BONG! This well-titled graphic novel would work well as a movie. James Heffron's concept is fairly simple, a small town is overrun with zombies after a plague-pit mixes with a holy relic, bringing the recently dead back to life and hungry for flesh. Our POV characters are a templar knight, an amnesiac ex-pirate nun, a young child with a pet frog, a blacksmith with a dark past, and a Japanese ambassador trapped in a foreign land. You can see why these leads would play so well in a movie, this is a fairly classic looking group that would hit all the right demographics. I do wish I could have seen more from Rosalyn, the pirate-nun. Her design work in the sketchbook was neat, she had a Solomon Kane-style design that was interesting. That said, the reasoning for leaving her reveal out of the core story makes sense too, as her background would steal from the Blacksmith's. I enjoyed seeing the Templar knights as a holy force ready to deal with a zombie outbreak. Knights vs. zombies isn't something we see too often. I also liked that there wasn't a lot of time spent dealing with figuring out what these zombies were, how to kill them, or anything like that. The heroes just go to work and start slashing.

The narrative style works fairly well, with an omniscient narrator providing both thoughts and background for the leads. I'm not sure how the poetry worked into the panel borders works, as it doesn't seem to be the same narrator. The running them of church bells plays well throughout the book. The "BONG" sound effects roll across the pages, ignoring panels and other breaks. In these times, that would really be the only way to communicate across the whole town. The ever-present sound effect is a constant, again, something that would play well in a movie. The only time I noticed a break was when the merciless ruler of the land is overrun. As his house falls, the bell cuts off.

I'm not sure I felt I had enough background with the templars or with the ruler, since their history was responsible for the main story's development. As I said, the strength of this graphic novel is the main plot, the script and characterization may have benefitted from some refocusing, but the core concept is strong and easily pulls in the reader.

I'm not sure that the pacing works perfectly, as a lot of text is spent world-building. I think perhaps a bit clearer art would have made some of that work unnecessary. I think the initial penciller Mario Guevara was a bit clearer on storytelling, although it does seem like regular artists Manuel Martin and Jason Millet handle the horror elements well. Their templars also looked good and heroic.


No comments: