Thursday, March 03, 2011

Graphic Novels: Flight - Volume One

Flight is a collection of illustrated short stories featuring a collaboration of many lesser-known cartoonists. Much of the talent behind these stories found their beginnings in web comics, as this is a common starting point for many cartoonists in the modern Internet age. In truth, I went into reading this with no clear indication of what to expect and was somewhat surprised to find out the book wasn’t a singular story of flight. Yet, despite this you cannot dismiss Flight as a simple, unorganized, or even inferior graphic novel, by any means.

The simple premise behind each story is that every single one has something to do with flight. Once again though, the book might not fulfill the expectation an individual might have when one thinks of flight. Some of the stories work flight into the literal sense with planes, blimps, and other sci-fi vessels. While other stories use flight in a metaphorical sense, in that the characters of those stories experience something out of the norm from their everyday world. It’s in this change of concept that I found myself, instead of being confused by the lack of a cohesive story, enthralled by the inventiveness of these short vignettes.

As with any other short-story collection, the quality can only be expected to be hit-or-miss. Yet the effort put into this collective story-telling experience does not go unnoticed, as a majority of the stories were qualitatively on the higher side of the scale. What this group of rising talents managed to do was weave stories that dealt with subjects individuals question everyday; from society to family to fear and love. In all honesty, the change in subject matter from story to story is what kept me reading on. The emotion and care put into each product really resonates as you delve deeper into the pages.

Yet there were some stories that were sometimes indiscernible and almost cryptic at best, but even they don’t do much to disturb the quality of the better stories. One of my favorites was Khang Le’s “Outside My Window” which is about a little girl waking up to a very hospitable, but naïve robot trying to find a friend. Other worthy mentions include Phil Craven’s “Tug McTaggart” and “Deep Blue.”

The art styles also vary from story to story. Some are drawn to look like cartoons and others are noticeably influenced by manga. There are also some that are drawn in an almost expressionist painting style, but none of which would fall into a category of shoddy artistry. Most of the stories contain the ideals of good art, in that they use the medium not only to show, but also to tell the story. Once again though, the stories that were mentioned to be indiscernible and cryptic beforehand are plagued by the same problems in their artwork.

Overall, I would recommend Flight to anybody looking for an interesting graphic novel to pick up and just read. I found myself enjoying it immensely and it was also a nice change from the super-heroics of DC and Marvel stories. Though it might not contain a cohesive plot, it more than makes up for that in how well each individual artist presents their tale of flight. The writing is engaging, whimsical, and deals with everyday subjects. Which is only strongly supported by how well each artist has established their style of art to tell the story. I actually find myself looking forward to reading the rest of the collection. You can find this great read in the graphic novel section on the second floor of the LRC today!

Overall Score - A

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