Path Review

Publisher Com.x has been around since 2001 and are mostly known for their Cla$$war series and the innovative 45 project which is being released this month. They seem to be one of those publishers who’s not in a hurry to flood the shelves with new books. Each new endeavour seems to be assessed as to how it relates to the Com.x line as a whole. Perhaps I’m reading too much into their limited output, but with a focus away from monthly comics, and squarely on OGNs, plus offices in London and California it’s obvious that they’re not just another comic book publisher.

Path is a black and white Original Graphic novel by Gregory S. Baldwin. It’s not a new book, having been released in 2008, but it has “timeless” written all over it. The plot is simple enough. Doppler is a rabbit who is simply trying to stay alive in a foreboding terrain when he runs into (or rather almost gets squashed by) Dodge, an elephant. Those always amusing Bugs Bunny or Road Runner cartoons would be the obvious comparison with Path showing the same kind of loose, child-like approach to story telling. Yes, child-like, not childish.

It’s a classic set-up, with two strangers with wildly different personalities learning to rely on each other while trying to stay alive. It’s a premise that makes those ’80s buddy cop action/comedies work so well, and Baldwin uses his two protagonists to great effect here. It also kind of reminds me of those great Jim Henson tales, Labyrinth and Dark Crystal with its sense of zany fun in the midst of danger.

Baldwin is a great artist. Path never suffers from being black and white, as other books sometimes do. Baldwin uses silhouettes, panel sizes that vary greatly and an attention to white space that must be noted. A video game designer by day, Baldwin takes to sequential art with enthusiasm and I’d be curious to see what he could come up with next. He was nominated for the Russ Manning Award for most promising newcomer, and deservedly so. His character designs, with Dodge’s large hands and feet and droopy eyes display his inner strength, while Doppler’s wild expressions give Path most of its humour. There’s all manner of creatures in this barren world though, from round robotic suits to nasty crocidogs, which just adds to the hectic nature of the travelling pair as they traverse the harsh environment, led by Dodge who’s strangely driven to his destination. The conclusion is a bold one, but surprisingly touching.

Path really is a visual feast and is a simple story populated by characters who are given distinct personalities, even if they only appear for a few pages. This 80 page adventure is rounded out by a few pin-ups of Dodge and Doppler. Path doesn’t have much of a plot, being an energetic journey leading to the next danger around the corner, but it’s simply a kid-friendly romp that looks great to boot.

Creature Box, the just revamped site of Baldwin, and Dave Guertin, is definitely worth a look for more fantastic imagery.

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