Page 45 Review by Stephen
"Battle is a constant, inside and out.
"Reflection is something only found in still waters."
I do love a deft double meaning and a deft turn of phrase. I found this to be eminently quotable.
ETERNAL is a juicily drawn, artfully coloured, album-sized graphic novella whose prologue - revisited intermittently - comes framed with great style and class, letting a whole lot of light in. Once we've moved passed the cover in Page 45's Weekly Reviews Blog you are going to want me to stop writing and leave you to drool. I'll just mention this before I forget: although each page I've provided is exquisite in its own right, there are even more gasp-inducing spectacles within from a green-misted morning to a radiant sunset followed three pitch-black pages later by a full-page, crackling, boat-bound pyre that glows in the night.
Sean Phillips and Marc Laming have both ordered copies, and there's no greater compliment to (and endorsement of) an artist than being purchased by one's peers.
Some of Zawadzki's expressions put me in mind of 100 BULLETS's Eduardo Risso, some of the line textures of Simon Gane (see ABOVE THE DREAMLESS DEAD), while subject and setting are going to appeal enormously to fans of NORTHLANDERS, BLACK ROAD and VIKING: THE LONG COLD FIRE.
As to the colouring by Cunniffee, there's a substantial essay in the back (though sadly no process pieces - you have the line artist on hand for that) about his approach to this and several other projects which should prove very useful to those beginning their studies or commencing their careers. Cunniffee's use of an overlaid watercolour effect for the skies and the pyre fire alone provide a subtle but strikingly effective contrast to the otherwise untextured colours, as when thick clouds of smoke belch and billow from a fortress destroyed by the shieldmaidens, along with its occupants.
Or so they think.
"When you play with magic, you come across problems.
"When you murder magic, you create problems."
Some of my sales pitches are more narrative than others (STRANGERS IN PARADISE XXV #1 was almost entirely narrative two weeks ago, but I enjoy telling stories, and here stories sell), others are more analytical. This time I'm going to let the interior art do all of the talking and leave you to unlock the majority of the tale's trajectory for yourself.
However, we begin with a brief lesson on the pragmatic necessity of violence in a world where, if you do not visit upon others, it will be visited upon you:
"I want to travel, I want to explore. Why must those things come with violence?" asks the young boy.
"They mustn't, yet, alas, they do. This is merely the reality of things. But if you are the one cutting then you get to decide what's cut."
There's an inarguable wisdom to those words under such circumstances, and our chief protagonist and shieldmaiden Vif will be doing a great deal of slicing and dicing accompanied by inset panels of zoomed-in effect which emphasise the speed of the slashes and thrusts. She is adept.
"It's not about violence, Grimr...
"It's about control."
The problems will arise when she loses it - her self-control - twice.
When she does so the first time, there is a subtle visual clue right at the bottom of the page which merely hints at what she has done. The full, horrific reveal is carefully delayed until you've turned over the page, then you see what her rage has wrought.
Anyway, I suspect you may be craving more art. I have it. Go for your life!
"You poison the water of the world and then decry its taste?"