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CR Review: Far Arden
posted April 10, 2008


Creator: Kevin Cannon
Publishing Information: Self-Published, softcover comic book, 380 pages, April 2008, no price offered
Ordering Numbers:

This is Kevin Cannon's first original graphic novel, a large work created for the book format in an extremely unique way that some of you may recall from when it was being done: through a series of 12 24-hour comics events held over the course of a year. The end result, a pirate adventure with a heightened sense of reality and a slight, pulp-fantasy sheen, sometimes reads like a comic created in that fashion. Characters and plot-lines intrude back into the main story less organic outcomes of a fully-conceived world than as story elements demanding a bit of the creator's time. Luckily, Cannon's light-hearted tone absorbs a lot of the potentially jarring absurdities rope-a-dope style; it becomes the kind of story where declarations of principle and sudden, last-minute twists are a natural outcome of an age of high adventure.

imageWhat isn't anything like most 24-hour comics you've read is the high level of craft and visual inventiveness brings to the project on a consistent basis. His versatile character designs are reminiscent of 1930s strips, he draws ridiculously beautiful ships and other settings given the time constraints, and there's a great deal of playful enterprise in some of the set pieces and recurring motifs, like the text announcement of combat moves placed over the depiction of the fight itself. It's always a very pleasurable read, even with scenes that feel rushed or incomplete. The great advantage of having this all under one cover is you get a stronger hint at some of the underlying themes. In a way, Far Arden can be seen as a story of how one process a young person's regrets, how you can scramble to sort of put things right and the value of being able to do so or simply trying. It's an exploration that makes both endings -- the story's climax and the addendum -- more depressing than one might expect for a bouncy adventure comic.

Far Arden's first edition is limited to 100 copies, and it's my understanding that part of the reason for this is so that Cannon can find the work a proper home with an established publisher. I urge any of you out there in a position to buy or to influence buying to at least give it a check out. I don't think it works the same way as a more meticulously planned graphic novel of the same length and sweep might, but it's a visually attractive work with a lot of fun to offer its readers.