Friday, February 19, 2010

Meanwhile

Jason Shiga

Meanwhile took creator Jason Shiga a decade to create.  It's an intricate puzzle that has you choosing where to go from panel to panel, from page to page, much like the narrative "choose your own adventure" books, except in comic book form.  At first glance, it can seem pretty intimidating, with lines swirling from all the panels on each page (and some pages consisting of pretty much only swirling lines that you have to follow), but once you get into the groove of how it works, it's really easy to continue.  It starts off rather simply enough, on what flavor of ice cream you'd like to eat, and gets a little more complicated from there.  Shiga makes good use of color and space for the type of story he's telling here, which is basically the same story, of Jimmy, a boy who stumbles upon an inventor and his laboratory, where he has a time machine, a machine that can transfer memories between people, and a doomsday device called the killitron.  You can choose which one to play with, and may end up using all of the devices in what is a very similar story that ends in numerous different ways.  While there may be 3,856 story possibilities, it's pretty much the same story, and if you should choose to persevere and wade through the story several times to find more outcomes and storylines, you may get rather tired of the pretty verbose beginning of the story.  But there are some pretty fun, satisfying storylines that you can uncover (and likewise, there are some that end too abruptly, and you may feel cheated).  This is a fun, creative exercise that kids will certainly appreciate, where they could either spend days enjoying, or half an hour, depending on their sensibilities.  It's an interesting experiment that Shiga takes on, largely successful, creating a unique form of storytelling for comics that any who reads will take some joy in.

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