Page 45 Review by Jodie Paterson
Rodney is a very curious young boy. If he's not examining creepy crawlies with a magnifying glass he's usually watching the seaplanes landing on the nearby lake through his binoculars. Sometimes he's covertly peeking at the neighbour hanging out washing through the gap in the fence, or standing on tip-toes, peering through the keyhole, to try and see what's happening on the other side of a door.
But what captures his imagination the most is the moment he gets to view the stars through a telescope, guided by his father. That is in September 1967. Then in July 1969, sat cross-legged on the floor, glued to the television, he gets to watch the first lunar landing. It's no wonder this lad turns out to be a Trekkie, but that's just the beginning of his obsession with the final frontier
Sparsely illustrated pages of crisp design plot the trajectory of Rodney's life at approximately a page per year: the discoveries, the successes, the failures, the high points and the lows, each a perfectly encapsulated point of time that we get to witness in its entirety. You see, this is a very unique take on a life story for we the readers are not simply there to watch, but also to experience it exactly as Rodney does... to partake through his eyes.
Presented in a simple yet ingenuous format throughout, with a scene on the left and then Rodney's view of it on the right, each double-page spread is a construction that gives us the perspective from both outside and also within, which only when viewed together gives us the whole.
Sometimes it is Rodney peering through a door on the left hand page over to what he can see on the right, other times it is him intently reading a book on the left, with a close up of the page itself on the right. Thus you get to see what Rodney himself is experiencing in each moment, but also the bigger picture, which on occasion reveals a crucial aspect that Rodney himself may have missed.
Being presented with both perspectives like this sounds like it should be intrusive, voyeuristic even, but in actual fact it is far from it, instead creating a real sense of intimacy. More like a story being told to you in hushed tones, almost a whisper, by a close companion while you're both sequestered away in a secluded spot.
Punctuated with real life events such as the Challenger shuttle disaster the story is grounded in a familiar time and place, and therefore brings with it a real sense of honesty. Its seemingly simplistic art style and subdued palette of crimson, teal and warm, blond yellow holds an abundance of elegant detailing which you'll discover with delight. A triumph of storytelling through design, fans of Chris Ware should definitely take a look. Also, remember what I said about trajectory