Page 45 Review by Stephen
"We walk out to where the past used to be
"And where its stories remain."
As opening sentences ago, that one's a belter.
It's set aside footprints in the snow, and implies so much so succinctly.
There's nothing more to be found on that page and that's as it should be.
It encourages you to pause and to dwell, which is precisely what the narrator will be doing throughout this graphic novella. There will be a great many pauses and a good deal of dwelling.
"On weekends" implies that, wherever or whenever the Watcher comes from, what they will be doing is a pastime. It's not a scientific endeavour, a studious obligation, but a matter of voluntary, pure fascination. It is the most popular pastime and, if one could look into the past and witness it happening all around you, then but of course it would be.
The more narcissistic among us might pop back to gaze on ourselves, but we can't interfere because this isn't time travel per se. You're not going anywhere or any when. A window is being opened instead on that which once was, in exactly the spot it occurred.
Do you wonder why someone is physically climbing up into a window on the second page, being pulled up by a friend, so that she or he can sit and wonder at giant, flying reptiles by the sea? It's because landmasses have since shifted considerably during the intervening eons. What is now snow down below was once buried by just such a landmass which has since been eroded or shifted by massive tectonic movements. I imagine for other such recces you would have to dig deep instead.
"We are all watching at one point or another
"And the reasons are many
"But they are really only one.
"We watch to understand."
Understanding is a great deal more worthy than blasting seven shades of shit out of an alien online. I cite bathing my eyes in beauty as motivation for my videogame pursuits - but I'm far from averse to locking and loading, either.
One can infer from this desire to understand that something has been lost from this future, however much more it has gained: some area of knowledge. The passage of time does that to any society.
"And I am watching the sick girl,"
... our narrator continues...
"And I do not understand."
There are two refrains throughout the work with variations on their theme. Both work beautifully well.
Re-designed from its original if equally impressive website by Woodrow Phoenix (RUMBLE STRIP, NELSON, SUGAR BUZZ et al), this is quite the immaculate composition and I can only apologise for a couple of our wonky scans made necessary by the virtual absence of any usable interior art online. Please stop being so protective, publishers: it is an own goal.
Both the words and the images are so artfully arranged on the page with a crisp sparseness which is compelling. The pauses are, most of them, beat-perfect, and the vast expanses of silence are eerie but also this: indicative of the Watcher's tenacity and patience and genuine desire to understand. The light will prove part of its timing.
Scenes will repeat themselves. You can always go back and look again. But this particular Watcher at least is mindful that she or he is looking in on a very real life and treats it with the due deference and respect it deserves, sitting outside the sick girl's room without intruding, for it has many visitors.
It's a ward in a hospital which is no longer there. It wasn't on the ground floor which is why the scenes are suspended in space.
When it was there its walls and its floors and its ceilings come dented or occasionally cracked but more strikingly with thin, broken lines just inside of their boundaries denoting a physical crumbliness with isn't some clinical futuristic cleanliness, but a reflection in their imperfection of what we can currently do for deteriorations of the flesh as well.
What the Watcher doesn't understand I will leave for you to discover, but it isn't as obvious as you might think. I can promise that you too, however, will be doing a great deal of pondering afterwards, lest you do not understand.