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Meanwhile


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Jason Shiga

Price: 
9.99

Page 45 Review by Stephen

Dave Sim once said that I could make choosing a restaurant into a life-altering decision. He was being neither critical nor complimentary; he was just saying what he saw. So now it's your turn, boys and girls: chocolate or vanilla? Please choose carefully or you may end up destroying the world!

Do you remember those children's books where you had to make a split decision every so often which would dictate which page you went to next? This is one of those, and the only time I've seen it done in comics before was in PROJECT ROMANTIC, and there only sporadically interspersed between the anthology's other stories. Here, however, Jason has really gone to town and thought about how to make the most of sequential art's unique properties in this particular endeavour.

I use Scott McCloud's "sequential art" here deliberately for sequence - and its cons - is what this book is all about, the panels linked together in a Spaghetti Junction of tubes which take you back and forth throughout the book using the tabs that stick out from its laminated pages leading almost inevitably towards Doomsday. "3,856 story possibilities" declares the front cover, so no, I haven't finished it yet and won't even know when I have! Only one road leads to happiness - which is a poor reflection on life and not something you should tell small children.

I'm going to leave the wider plot open for your discovery (and indeed decision!) but I will impart that it may or may not involve a trip to the toilet, a time machine and a Killitron. Also, a memory-swapping squid. This isn't Shakespeare and I've not declared this Page 45's Comicbook Of The Month for its dialogue or even its art. It's all in the ingenuity and you'll be buying this as presents for everyone you know because it's so much fun.

I gleaned enormous amusement on the bus the other morning from tracing a path with my forefinger between multiple deaths, grinning out loud if such a thing is possible in the knowledge that so many other crammed-in commuters were arching their eyebrows at this Special-Needs child. Because so much of the entertainment is to be had from glancing at the panels above and below you: other permutations you haven't yet encountered that don't bode well.

Will you, I wonder, take hours ruminating on whether to use the time machine or the squid? Do you in real life? Will you record each option you've taken to avoid repeating your mistakes? And if so, do you also write a diary you re-read every morning for much the same reason? It's a Jaffa Cake thing, isn't it?

For my own part, some of my reactions were born out of pure instinct: upon exiting the time machine and spying myself squealing in fright, I couldn't help punching my other self full in the face rather than sticking around to explain. I'd make a sodding useless Timelord.

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