And Then One Day No. 5 - Approximation of Greatness

I really enjoyed Ryan Claytor's series of journal comic books, And Then One Day (as seen in this review here). However, Claytor recently went to graduate school, forcing himself to no longer have the time to produce the comic book journal anymore. He originally announced that he was ending the series, but recently, he revealed that he was coming out with a giant-sized issue containing a written journal (with illustrations) rather than his journal in comic book form.While the book's format may have changed, Claytor has not changed the important things, as he maintains an engrossing and endearing narrative that makes everyday life appear entertaining, and most impressively, fun.

Still, I will be perfectly honest, I definitely prefer the earlier editions of And Then One Day to this one, as I think Claytor is an excellent comic book creator, and I think his storytelling misses the comic book format in this collection. But there is still about 80 pages of Claytor's narrative, which is quite a lot of fun, even without the comic book format (although, please, Ryan, when you have time, more comics, please!).

The set-up of the book is a page or two by Claytor about his day, accompanied by a drawing or two depicting what he is talking about. Claytor recently moved away from his hometown at the beginning of the collection to attend graduate school. His adjustment to graduate school is the centerpiece of this story,  which is a good narrative hook.

Claytor's kind, affable nature is the star of this volume, as quite often, the story is carried by how much you become invested in Claytor. I mean, would you really follow a 80-page journal of someone you weren't interested in? Luckily, Claytor is interesting, not because his life is so dramatic (it isn't) or his stories are action-packed (they aren't), filled with double-crosses (nope), car chases (none), explosions (nary a one), robots (none) or space battles (surprisingly none), but because he is relatable. You root for him because he seems like a nice guy. You want to see what happens next because you ARE rooting for him.

There is a scene where he curses at a lady in a club, and the sheer distraught he feels over his actions is extremely endearing (while also quite humorous).

It is stories like that one that keep you turning the pages, and his illustrations are quite good (and he often does enough movement in the drawings that they're ALMOST like mini-comics in the middle of the story).

For bonus effect, there is a long interview in the book, plus a comic-book intro by Claytor (plus a sketchbook, which I don't think was in my unfinished preview copy).

So, while And Then One Day was not as good as the comic book versions (which were great), it was a good enough approximation to greatness to be a great book in its own right.

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