Frantic as a cardiograph scratching out the lines, Day 17: <i>The Path</i> #4

Every day this month, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. Today's page is from The Path #4, which was published by CrossGen and is cover dated July 2002. Enjoy!

The first page of The Path #4 is, honestly, kind of dull. Ron Marz, who writes the issue, doesn't have much to do. I imagine he told Bart Sears, who draws the issue, "Just draw the dude sitting there on the side of the road and have an army pass him by slowly." So that's what Sears did! Dave Lanphear, who letters the issue, doesn't have anything to do whatsoever. Mark Pennington and Michael Atiyeh, who ink and color the issue, have things to do. Good for them!

It's been quite some time since I've read The Path, and while I remember liking it (well, the first twelve issues, which are collected in two trades), I don't remember the details too much. So I have no idea who that dude is or what he's doing sitting on the side of the road. I guess this is a mysterious way to begin the issue - there's a sense of impending doom as the soldiers troop by, and the hair obscuring the face of the dude makes him look both vagabond and dangerous. One of the problems with The Path is that Sears (and later, Matthew Smith) really likes using a lot of thin panels on a page, so things are often a bit crowded, plus there's very little flow to the page itself. These are simply building blocks of panels, and we read this page in a utilitarian fashion, moving downward very deliberately, with our eyes following the drawings as if we're reading a text. Sears doesn't direct our eyes himself - he relies on our cultural background of reading a text left-to-right and up-to-down to guide us over the page. It's a shame, too - Sears's art on this comic is quite nice, but it's often hindered by the page layouts. I don't know if that's Marz restricting him, or if that's the way Sears wanted to do it.

Anyway, things are happening on this page. That Sears doesn't make them more interesting is a shame. But that happens sometimes!

Next: Mike Grell should be able to do a good first page, right? RIGHT????

Be sure to peruse the archives of these posts. You know you want to!

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