Page 45 Review by Stephen
They made a map for their future.
And hoped it was true.
Poignant and John Cei Douglas are synonymous.
This is a new Great Beast edition incorporating the whole of Johns self-published HOLDING PATERNS.
As such it features four of the finest pages ever in comics within a black, white and decidely blue collection of meticulously composed short stories; all bar one sad and mournful, some lamenting lost love.
'Footnotes' is John Cei Douglas' tour de force. Each silent page is a perfectly balanced composition of light, line and colour, the first three of which each find focus by dint of a borderless spotlight on a young couple together on a train station platform over a period of time. These are surrounded by train journeys to and fro, some shared, some solo, gazing out of the window with dreamy optimism or more melancholic doubt. Rarely have I seen these scenes through a carriage window so well conveyed; similarly the station and platforms themselves which, towards the end, echo with a real sense of space of emptiness. The expressions are as subtle as they are economical we're talking Andi Watson at the top of his game but alas I can say little more when I have a dozen more sentences in me which desperately want to explain why this is so super. SPOILERS.
Living Underwater and Bottling It, are two poignant pieces about anxiety and depression, the second being silent and more metaphorical, the first direct, autobiographical and explanatory. If you have ever sunk beneath a sea of suffocating, paralysing depression and anxiety you will find much empathy here and may want to share it with your friends. If you havent, welcome to Johns world: it will help you to understand.
It concludes with Follow me and a moment of magic, but at its centre lies the titular tale, a pastoral, passionate times-past love story intriguingly framed by a more anonymous urban present. In it a travelling troubadour called Alexander falls profoundly in love with a farmhand named Heléna, and she with he.
They lived underwater and dined under moonlight.
They sailed to the moon and listened to the stars.
They explored the world and all its potential together and looked loving, optimistically to the future.
John has a thing about maps at the moment, and there are several within using carefully composed destinations in lieu of standard panels. One of those maps folds out to a full A3. There are also sequences composed like a diamond quilt, and one employing a mountain motif, its centre one giant peak which stretches from the bottom right to the pinnacle of the page.
So much wisdom and craft. And what a brilliant title, eh?