By Robert Ball
This was one of those books much talked about at Thought Bubble recently, especially by a fair number of the comic artists I was speaking to during the convention. And you crack it open and you can see why there was that buzz. It sure is pretty.
Robert Ball takes his poster style vector illustration here and adapts it for storytelling, delivering something that, although it does indeed read very quickly, seems to encourage repeated readings and languid repeated eadings at that simply by virtue of being so damnably gorgeous to look at.
It also takes quite a lot of work on your part to stop thinking of the knight in the green cape as Doctor Doom.
But hopefully, just as I did, readers will linger, will revisit, wont simply get to the end of the book and put it aside, as this is something that changes from pretty to stunningly beautiful and fascinating with a little lingering. It’s not especially important to be honest what is going on, as I have the sense that the tale is a simple quest, albeit with a twist on the final few pages as the knight’s cloak is lost and we see his …………… no, I’ll leave that one hanging. Go buy the comic.
No, this is all about the narrative driven by the art, pacing delivered through the beautiful pictures.
Ball takes his knight through vast open white space of chilly snow scene in pursuit of a magnificent stag, chasing him into dense menacing forests with even more menacing enemies.. shifting the colours, drifting from snow laden white out through to earthy greens and browns, creating a threat and mood through his art, through his colours…
A wrong turn into the forest results in a savage beating and the knight awakes from a dream of nagging voices and beautiful, angelic maidens to a vision of red hell.
A wolf, and another desperate struggle, blood flows, death is right there in the room, literally red in tooth and claw, and no matter how powerful he imagines himself, the truth is that this knight is an old man, frail and small in the face of nature this time.
As you might expect from something so art driven, Winter’s Knight is all about the imagery and the manner in which Ball works that imagery into the reader’s head, playing upon themes, of weakness, of age, of image, of blood, of conflict.
Along the way there are a few mis-steps, a couple of panels that break the spell, that have you wondering what exactly that line or this line is doing there, whether it’s honestly meant to look like that, but overall it’s something so, so easy to get enveloped in. Winter’s Knight could turn out to be about so many things. It could also turn out to be simply a tale of a knight making his way through some landscape. Either way I don’t care.
Like so many others I’m busy wrapping myself up in the huge world of Ball’s imagery, a wonderful blanket of a world, icy cold, blood red, all utterly stunning.
Winter’s Knight Day One is available from Robert Ball”s webstore. Hopefully sometime next year I’ll be praising issue 2.