Well this was a surprise. Granted I knew O’Connell was a good artist and comic maker, having enjoyed his sci-fi fantasy ligne claire series Tozo. And I certainly knew he could do cute and funny, having much enjoyed his Queen Mum Adventures and his new Royal Wedding special Kate Middleton (In Her Own Words).
But A Corner Of Paradise is something quite different.
Different in execution – it’s a 100 day exercise – created as part of the 100 Days project and involved O’Connell improvising a 100 panel comic, one panel at a time, over the course of 100 days (and then it was, as he puts it on the back cover – jiggled about a bit).
Different as well in it’s content – this is unashamedly a good old fashioned bit of light romantic drama. And I’m a sucker for a good old fashioned bit of romance.
(A chance meeting and an umbrella that leads to so much. From A Corner Of Paradise by David O’Connell)
Benoit and Claire meet in a rain shower and share an umbrella. A simple moment, a connection is made, love blossoms. But love does have a tendency, especially in a good romantic drama, to take the difficult path. And so it is here.
Benoit is a Parisian, only in Claire’s Perigueux visiting his comedically stern Aunt. So the courtship is long distance, with love snatched from weekend visits, the distance troublesome, Benoit’s predatory ex Isobel even more so.
(Benoit’s wonderfully stern and delightfully funny Aunt brings up the spectre of Isobel. From A Corner Of Paradise by David O’Connell)
It’s told from both character’s viewpoint, with two seperate voices on the page, nicely delineated with a specific font for each – a small, yet very effective and simple touch.
And whilst we’re talking simplicity, O’Connell’s artwork is beautifully easy on the eye; a clean line used so sparingly yet bringing out so much in his characters, using the extra red colour to great effect throughout.
(Love blossoms across the miles. From A Corner Of Paradise by David O’Connell)
Over these 100 panels, these 50 pages, O’Connell draws us in to a relationship that we see blossom in a beautiful, pleasingly unrealistic way – this is very much a romantic tale, and it’s full of the delicious twists and implausible events of circumstance and chance that I love so much in a great romantic piece.
The whole thing is touching and gentle. No huge rows, no massive events, just a love story unfolding with O’Connell playing it all out in episodic time, jumps in the relationship often happen in that narrow space between panels.
It’s left to the reader to fill in the emotional details of the interim, and we do it with great pleasure, enjoying being part of the tale, a voyeuristic sense overtaking us. The characters ring true, the situations they find themselves are dramtised yet plausible, and best of all the emotional truth of falling in love is there on the page.
(Another split screen – and a perfect example of O’Connell teasing out every emotional moment from just the few lines of Claire’s face. From A Corner Of Paradise by David O’Connell)
A Corner Of Paradise is a delight. I do love a good love story. And David O’Connell’s written and drawn a great one here.
You can (and should) buy A Corner Of Paradise from O’Connell’s online store. And whilst you’re there make sure you give his other work a look.