Path – there’s a rabbit, an elephant, lots of teeth, lots of tentacles. Mix and off we go…
by Gregory S. Baldwin
A bunny and an elephant get thrown together and struggle from one nightmareish situation to another, always seeming to find some bigger and nastier monster waiting for them. That’s Path in a few lines. Think of it as a bizarre buddy movie or maybe, to use a film I just had the dubious pleasure of being dragged to; like the Scrat thing in Ice Age chasing after his acorn.
The bunny gets cornered by a ferocious pack of Crocidogs at the bottom of a cliff. The elephant falls from the sky, kills the nasties and a strange relationship is formed. It seems the elephant’s getting on a bit, can’t see so good any more, can’t work out how to climb up the cliff without falling. But why does he want to, need to, get up the cliff?
Yep, the big elephant isn’t planning on getting back and has a calling to get to where he’s going. Can you see where this is going to end? Well, you’d be right, but ever so slightly wrong as well. And that’s what made Path work for me. Right at the end, Baldwin twists the traditional elephant’s graveyard tale in a sufficiently sweet, interesting way to make me finish the book far more satisfied than I thought I would at the half way stage.
Sure, it’s effectively just one big chase scene. But that’s not a problem. Because it’s one big enjoyable chase scene. Or at least it is when you get to the end of the book. Halfway through I wasn’t so sure. There’s a big problem with Path and it’s all in the artwork. Firstly it’s done in that rather popular way of the moment with ultra clean computerised art that just somehow fails to engage my eye properly. Something about it means I tend to skate over panels whereas with other art I’ll be drawn in. And skating over the panels doesn’t work because there are a fair few moments throughout Path where Baldwin just loses his way visually and suddenly it’s a confusing mess of too many limbs, tentacles, rocks or who knows what else. It’s not a terrible flaw though, a turn of the page and you can quickly get back with the chase, but it spoils some of the fun.
(Tentacles, teeth, rabbits and elephants in peril. Path.)
And a lot of the fun is in the chase. And specifically in the way that each turn of a corner, each escape by the skin of their teeth/tusks only leads them into more trouble, usually larger, with even more teeth / tentacles / nasty pointy things than before. Onwards and onwards, each time doggedly getting through more by luck than judgement; after all, no matter how unlucky the rabbit thinks he is – two rabbit’s feet may be the thing that sees the elephant through to his final destination and that ending I’ve already mentioned that manages to make most of the minor art niggles and confusing scenes fade away.
In such a fast paced, madcap graphic novel to have us pull up violently in the last 10 pages or so and end with something very low key, rather sad and very sentimental could have fallen completely flat. But in Path it works and makes the whole book work that little bit better. Not bad, not bad at all.