Written by Dave Candlish, Mark Howard, Matt McLaughlin, Chris Cronin. Art by Dave Candlish, El Chivo, James Corcoran, Filip Roncone.
I’ve seen Jikan before in Paragon #6 where I said:
“As for Jikan, the two parter in this issue, it’s got enough nice artistic touches, with it’s angular style and limited backgrounds, to make it quite visually interesting. But the story is a little limp. Something about time travel and reincarnation…… but just not enough to get me going I’m afraid.”
Well, here we have the complete Volume 1 of Jikan’s adventures. And with the benefit of actually being able to tell the story of this time travelling, demon battling Samurai warrior across several chapters the writers and artists have done a far better job than just that initial glimpse afforded me.
Granted, there are chapters here that don’t work as well as others, and instead of being a single volume it should more rightly be considered a shared anthology title all featuring one character. Thankfully Dave Candlish’s character and the over-arching story – a quest to defeat the demonlord who has sent him plummeting through time (Quantum Leap style) – does lend itself extremely well to this mix of writers and artists.
(The final image in the book, but it’s such a strong piece of art, and sums everything up rather nicely, with Jikan waiting, sword in hand, to be thrown through time once more. Art by Dave Candlish. From The Jikan Chronicles Volume 1.)
The initial setup, with Jikan defeating the demonlord’s warriors and killing the demonlord’s son – whom it later transpires, was to be his foothold in a plan to take over the earthly plane, is rough and ready, with Candlish’s art skills rather questionable. But it does set both the tone and the mechanics of the story and will lead on to far better things, both from Jikan and from Candlish.
The following chapter, where Jikan meets an old man who claims to have already met Jikan four times previously and knows far more about the Jikan’s travails ahead than he’s able to tell, is the one I referred to in Paragon 6 above. And in the context of the storyline it works so much better than it did as a standalone strip. Candlish’s art is far, far better here as well, just one of the many different styles he’ll utilise across this volume.
(More of Candlish’s artwork, although in a completely different style to that above. Jikan finds out that grabbing someone’s hand just before a time jump is not a great idea. From The Jikan Chronicles Volume 1.)
Subsequent jumps in time take our Samurai warrior to a far-flung future – where a scientific-military base is just preparing to activate a time machine, to an alternate Britain where it’s 1946 and the war with Germany and Japan still rages, to an England of 1645 during the time of the Witch Trials, to Africa at the dawn of time and the dawn of man and finally, to Pearl Harbour 1941. Each time the demon is there, making life difficult for Jikan, possessing any he can, in an attempt to kill his Samurai pursuer.
Some segments obviously work far better than others; but all serve to create a sense of displacement, of a hero’s quest across time, where Jikan is always going to be the outsider, hunted, trying to do what is right, but unable to share his troubles with those around him. ll in all, each little jump, each mini-adventure gives us something satisfying in and of itself, and builds upon the larger aver-arching storyline.
The one part of Jikan that really didn’t work, and for my money, really breaks up the volume, is the Jikan and the Kappas tale, where Jikan is sent home to Japan, only to find these mythical little Japanese Goblins infesting his house. It was initially done for the Paragon blog, where the three panel comic strip format worked quite nicely as a semi-comedic interlude. But here, amidst the bigger story, it just grates.
(Whilst Jikan is up on the roof, we get to see a little of what goes on beneath, with commentary from the Demon Of Smoke And Steel. Art by Dave Candlish, channelling a little Paul Grist perhaps? From The Jikan Chronicles Volume 1)
The artwork in Jikan is truly a diverse mix of styles – and a lot of that diversity comes from Candlish himself. Each story segment with Candlish’s art is done in a radically different style. His stark, angular black and white with heavy greytones stuff is very nice. And then there’s the Paul Grist elements to his work here – mere occasional glimpses perhaps, but very nice ones, and something I think he’s got the potential to develop.
Of the other artists El Chivo’s far flung future Jikan tale is very nice, flawed yes, but the potential is there and most importantly, the storytelling, through some crowded pages, remains very strong throughout. Rancone’s Witch Fires art isn’t really to my taste, too much reliance on a background wash effect and not enough strength in his figure work. Whereas James Corcoran’s caveman tale has far stronger figures against a minimalist background (it’s set in a cave – what did you expect?) – I’ve not heard of Corcoran or El Chivo before and there’s enough there to make it interesting to see how they develop.
(Jikan’s trip to the far future, where time travel is being experimented with. But the addition of a time travelling Samurai and demon hordes is not going to end well. Love the simple sci-fi ideas thrown in here – the computer translator is a really nice touch. Art by El Chivo, from The Chronicles Of Jikan Volume 1.)
Jikan, when you close it’s final pages, is rather an enjoyable book. The flaws are minor, and the mix of writers and artists aren’t to it’s detriment at all. The over-arching story allows so much creative leeway that nearly everything works and I’d imagine there’s plenty more mileage in the concept yet. Certainly enough for a volume 2 – and I’ll be rather looking forward to that.
But equally interesting to me is the development of Dave Candlish as an artist, which is possibly why I’ve really concentrated on showing you his art here. It’s quite a trick, this display of so many different styles. I’ll be enjoying seeing him develop very much I think.
The Jikan Chronicles Volume 1 is available to buy from Candlish’s Lulu store.