Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. Today’s page is from Bone Rest #1, which was published by Image and is cover dated July 2005. Enjoy!
Bone Rest is an odd comic that didn’t last too long – it appears there were 8 issues, but I only got 4, because it just wasn’t for me – and this first page of issue #1 is a good indication of that. It’s not a terrible first page, but it is a bit strange, and it sets the tone for this issue and for the 4 issues I actually bought and read. I’m actually not sure why I didn’t get the entire series – I know I didn’t love the book, but I know I usually give independent books a bit more rope than 4 issues. Oh well. Maybe I just couldn’t find it anywhere and didn’t feel like looking.
Anyway, Matteo Casali wrote this sucker, while Giuseppe Camuncoli drew it. This was the first time I’d seen Camuncoli’s artwork, and while it’s more cartoony on this book than what it evolved into, I still like it. He doesn’t have too much to do on this page, as he shows us a dude hanging from a rope above … something. We infer that it’s in some strange place over, perhaps, a planet (the blue and white imply that) or maybe a non-place, because the dude thinks he’s been hanging from his neck for “centuries,” so something is off about the proceedings. Camuncoli closes in twice, from two different angles, and it creates a sense of movement and vertigo – in the first row, he zooms in on the dude’s face, then swings up violently over his head and then moves back down the rope, culminating in the look of crazed fear on the dude’s face in Panel 6. It’s a good shift, because in the other panels, he looks fairly calm about his fate, and when his fate is to hang by his neck for centuries, you know that if something is going to spook him, it’s something big. Camuncoli makes him almost inhuman in the final panel, which makes it more effective. What the heck is the guy seeing? Of course, we don’t find out in this issue. I don’t know who colored this page (three colorists are listed in the credits), but whoever it is (Mirko Grisendi, Christian Aliprandi, or Davide Turotti) does a nice job with it. The dude is in shadow in the first two panels, and then there’s a little bit of light in Panel 3 that only grows until the final panel, where it’s obvious that something is shining down on the dude. It helps make Camuncoli’s drawing of his face creepier, because not only is he seeing something, but that something is obviously lighting him up. Based on Casali’s text, we know that the dude is moving upward, which helps add to the terror.
Casali gives us quite a bit of information, but without context, none of it makes too much sense. He decides to go with second person, which, as I’ve pointed out before, is a good way to draw the reader in – it’s very intimate, and Casali wants us to feel whatever the hanging dude is feeling. He gives us clues – the dude did something that has never been done before, and he did it centuries ago. Now he feels that it’s happening again, which ought to be a good thing. Casali tells us that he should be happy that he’s being pulled up, because he knows why it’s happening, but it’s too early. What’s too early? Again, we don’t find out in this issue. So Casali does a nice job setting the scene, but the reader has to be patient for him to get back to this dude. I honestly can’t remember if he does it in the first 4 issues or if it happens after I stopped getting the book. I guess for our purposes it doesn’t really matter.
This is an effective page because it uses the static images of comics well. Camuncoli is also using filmic techniques, but they do work in comics if used well, and he does so here. He can’t show the dude rising, so he zooms in on him, and the reader feels like the “camera” is unmoving and the guy is rising. These little things make this a pretty good first page, even if we don’t find out any more about this guy. Oh well!
Next: One of my favorite comics from the last decade. That should narrow it down, right? You won’t find it in the archives!
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