Page 45 Review by Jonathan
"How to read this book.
1. With your face.
2. In given order.
3. Out of order.
4. Along with the supplements.
5. Ignoring the supplements.
6. More than once.
7. In one sitting.
8. At intervals.
9. While falling asleep.
10. Two or three acts at once.
11. Less than once.
12. As a puzzle.
13. Enacting each act."
Initially, I went for 1, 2, 8, 9 and 10... and perhaps also experiencing a little of 12.
I then went for 3, 6 and 7, though obviously still including 1.
I have, however, no idea what 4 & 5 even pertain to. Unless it is the first four pages which includes "How to read this book." If so, I am therefore guessing most people will have automatically done 4 and practically no one 5... If it isn't that, perhaps they mean the Sunday newspaper supplements?
Clearly 11 has to be true for some people because dear review reader, aside from the critical cognoscenti such as yourselves, many people are not yet aware of Roman IN A SENSE (LOST AND FOUND) Muradov. Which is a shame, because he is immensely talented.
I would also dearly love to believe there is at least one person who went for option 13, even if it is was just Roman's extended family, blazing with pride... or at least purely to humour him.
Here is some supplemental information from the publisher to inform us more about what is already a contender for the most complex, convoluted comic I am likely to read in 2019...
"Written and drawn in thirteen styles, from comedy and confession to prophecy and interpretative dance, Vanishing Act is a polyphonic play of interconnected stories, synchronized in time and space on one melancholy evening. A paranoid man rehearses the upcoming party. A dishevelled actor expounds on the conceptual potential of sitcoms. A beloved dog disappears into the Internet and starts a cult. A couple runs their argument in reverse. A bored seagull excretes the entire known universe. Vanishing Act is governed by one looping constraint that unifies all of the disparate threads: each following story starts in the middle of the previous one, overlapping until the end of the night, and back into the beginning of the book."
Did I mention it was rather brilliant? It is. It won't appeal to all, mind you, as at times it's belligerently blasé with the reader's ability to keep up and bewilderingly brilliant in its individual pieces' brevity - the dishevelled actor in particular so left me wanting more of his luvvieness - but, if you stay the course (option 7, remember!) or indeed digest it in more than one sitting (psst - option 8) I think you will be suitably impressed.
Artistically, be prepared to be taken for a tour too, as each of the thirteen vignettes is indeed rather different, yet there is more than sufficient stylistic coherence maintained overall, quite deliberately, despite the odd, again entirely intentional, detour or two towards the utterly abstract. There are some particular points of pure comparison you can pick out here and there such as Dave MR. PUNCH McKean and David ASTERIOS POLYP Mazzucchelli, but that's by the by, frankly.
If you are a fan of cleverly constructed comics in particular, the deployment of multiple art styles à la BLACKBIRD by Manuele Fior or Eleanor Davis' HOW TO BE HAPPY, or stylistically much of the Nobrow output - who published Murodov's IN A SENSE (LOST AND FOUND) - then this will be for you. Either with (option 4) or without (option 5) the supplements...