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Daybreak, Vol. 1
posted May 16, 2007
Bodega Distribution, softcover, 48 pages, 2006, $10
I wrote at some length
about Brian Ralph's on-line comic turned unlikely print serial Daybreak
in a preview, featuring several pages directly from the work. This review is more a reminder that it's still there. I kind of forgot about it myself. That's perhaps the
disadvantage for artists like Ralph who have a real knack for the strengths of serial form but who operate in a market that favors graphic novels: you don't get that constant reminder that they're there and working and that they remain prolific.
is a fun little comic, a promising first chapter to a thriller that employs a number of subtle comics effects. Your point of view is that of a post-apocalyptic survivor, engaged with a pair of fellow travelers during several moments of rising anxiety caused by their conflict and the omnipresent threat of human-but-not malevolent aggressors. Ralph smartly keeps them offstage. They would fit into the general description of modern zombies, although the limited visual evidence could go multiple ways. They're scarier as unknowns.
If in Ralph's earliest work he seized the readers' focus by bending the environment of his protagonists around them, here he uses a more subtle method of constraint, fashioning for the reader a story where you're locked in and paying attention, first out of politeness and then building into those horrible moments where you don't look around too much for fear of seeing something awful, or opening yourself up for attack. No longer dependent on tunnels, Ralph provides the first chapter in a comic book nightmare built on tunnel vision.