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Glister Vol. 1
posted October 21, 2007
 

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not exactly the final cover, but close

Creator: Andi Watson
Publishing Information: Image Comics, soft cover, 64 pages, August 2007, $5.99
Ordering Numbers: 9781582408538 (ISBN13)

imageThere are works out there as sound in their conception as Andi Watson's new book Glister -- an intimate size, a likely to please price point, attractive covers and sturdy interiors, and a story with a female protagonist who takes an active role in solving supernatural problems that happen to her through no fault of her own -- but not many. Where Glister truly distinguishes itself is in Watson's absolute confidence in the visual storytelling. In this first book, Glister Butterworth encounters a haunted teapot containing a lousy writer named Phillip Bulwark-Stratton (a name convincing enough I'll admit I double-checked by looking it up), who drafts Glister into helping in the creation of another work. Eventually, Glister brings the situation into a satisfying close, not through a sudden bolt of inspiration, but by working through the problem and a number of potential solutions.

Watson adds depth to his storytelling and builds a sense of narrative density by confidently moving back and forth between storytelling modes. There are close-ups and cutaways, tableaux that sustain a single story point, complex panel constructions on a single page, and even static sequences that are designed to build into a rat-a-tat rhythm through which the quickly rolls forward. A lot of the images are themselves really lovely, against which the more simplified characters fairly pop off of the page. This is made necessary by a story that lopes along at a pleasant but not inspiring pace; it's not up to the skill with which it unfolds as performance. The overall effect is one of engaged, pleasant conversation, though; I feel Watson's getting close to find a tone that would indulge the graceful and manic qualities inherent to his work, and have great, transcendent qualities of its own. It's always fascinating to see Watson work in such a controlled fashion, even with years of work of that type behind him; the Skeleton Key back-up contains more frenetic, funny and visually chaotic moments -- but maybe for the first time, the bigger name back-up really does seem like a back-up.

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* Kurt Busiek was the first of seven people to write in to inform me that Phillip Bulwark-Stratton is of course a parody of Edward Bulwer-Lytton, "the originator of 'It was a dark and stormy night' and the bad wordsmith 'honored' by the annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest," -- well, the spirit of that statement or one of its parts, because only Kurt used that exact phrasing.