This month, I've decided it would be fun to post a review of a different self-published comic book each day for the rest of the month!
Today I'm featuring Ryan Claytor's And Then One Day #6.
I'm stacking the deck a bit by opening with Ryan Claytor, as I'm already an established fan of his work, but hey, what better way to start the month than with a self-published comic I'm already a fan of?
That being said, the most recent (well, if 2007 counts as most recent) installment of Ryan Claytor's And Then One Day series of autobiographical comics is probably my least favorite of his comics yet (however, that's cheering with faint criticism, as I really like his earlier work a whole lot), but I do admire the clever approach that he takes with this comic.
The concept of the book is that Claytor has decided to do an "autobiographical documentary." He provides a series of flashcards with questions on them to a variety of people he knows (close friends, not-so-close friends, family members, ex-girlfriends, etc.) and has them record their answers aloud to each of the questions. Claytor then puts their answers into comic form and the end result is this comic, where the hope is that, through each of the respondents' replies, you will get the full picture of who Ryan Claytor is.
It is certainly an ambitious project, and I give him a great deal of applause for the manner in which he edits the responses. Depicting people just sitting down and answering questions could be extremely tedious if there is not copious amounts of editing involved. Even with the editing by Claytor, the book still gets a bit tedious at times (as come on, over a hundred and fifty pages of just people sitting at a table answering questions?).
These sample pages give you a clear idea of what the book looks like...
As you can see, Claytor is such a talented comic book creator that he can wring as much emotion and interest as he can out of this concept, and in the end, the comic as a whole IS interesting. It just could be a whole lot more engaging. Especially towards the end when it seems like some of the answers come close enough to each other that I think Claytor's editing did falter a bit (the "are comics fine art?" section in particular seems to be an example of this).
Really, the biggest "problem" with this series is that it is clear that Claytor has so mastered the "mundane slice-of-life" comic book that he wants to try out brand new approaches. He did a similar thing with And Then One Day #5, which I also did not like as much as his earlier works which were purely slice-of-life comics (And Then One Day #5 was in the format of a sketchbook/journal, so it was mostly prose mixed with some drawings).
That said, whether an approach truly bears fruit or not, I wouldn't dream of asking or expecting anything less from Claytor, who is exploring exactly what he can and cannot do with the comic book art form. I applaud him in his courageousness, and I can't wait to see what he comes up with next, whether this particular concept was my particular cuppa tea.
Recommended. Do check out Ryan's web site here, Elephant Eater Comics.
Oh, and one last thing - I get that it is just a matter of how his books are colored, but boy do Claytor's black people look silly with the lines all over their face to denote "dark skin."
If you would like to participate in the month with your self-published comic, there might still be time (depending on how fast you mail out comics). Just check out the Review Copies section to see where to mail a review copy of your comic.