Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Ring Of The Incredible First Impression

The Ring Of The Nibelung by P. Craig Russell is so pretty it hurts. $30 for a ~450 page hardcover, which you can almost certainly find for cheaper on the internet, but it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter that penciller P. Craig Russell's lines are delicate and exquisite. It doesn't matter how many years in the making the project took. It doesn't matter that Lovern Kindzierski's colors make P. Craig Russell look like Moebius. It doesn't matter that it's a 400 odd page distillation of a four night long opera (Wagner's 15 hour Ring Cycle) and is therefore not merely an act of tremendous investment but also judicious editing, before anyone titled an editor ever sees it.

I'm passing over all of these things.

I'm only going to talk about the first story page. Because this first story page below is genius.

1) The creation of life compressed into a single page.
2) Wordlessly.
3) The very first thing you see, before panel borders, is a hand, breaking through panels. Panels are how you indicate time, the first thing you see is God's hand, beyond time.
4) Life gives color to the world. In this case, literally, God's hand, and time before life is in blue pencil. Blue pencils are usually used as the rough guides for a penciller, with final inks done in black, with color added after inks. So: Before life, there was no color. Life springs up? Color, brilliant color, greens, yellows and celebratory golds. Actually, if you look closely at panel five, you see the greens and golds in the seedling that springs up from where the water is dropped. Life introduces color into the comic!
5) And you understand it all, instantly.

It's not merely a neat trick, it's a neat trick that tells the story, introduces characters, scale, and setting on the very first page. This will be an epic, in a literal and figurative sense of the word. The next major question,  how the comic compares to the music it is based on, I have no idea. I am only listening to the first track now. Of course, I really ought to be watching a performance but alas, technology can only take us so far.

The trouble with good first impressions is that they make expectations for the rest of what comes very high. The trouble with P. Craig Russell is that he has the talent and vision to live up to the bar he sets.

The Ring Of The Nibelung by P. Craig Russell is $30 and can be bought from Dark Horse's sister retail operation Things From Another Planet and other booksellers. I got mine for $12, at In Stock Trades.

You can guess what this is going to be, I think.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.