Thursday, July 5, 2012

Sightings of Wallace Sendek

By Sean Azzopardi and Douglas Noble

When I started reading this comic I thought the pages that the pages were in the wrong order. Each page is dated, and the dates jump around backwards and forward through time. But each page can be taken as an independent whole and this seemingly haphazard order is the one in which Noble wanted this comic to appear (I guess some of the pages could be in the wrong order too, there's no real way for me to tell!). Taken together the pages begin to tell the story of '70s rock musician Wallace Sendek, his disappearance, and his later possible appearances.

Reading it in chronological order (yes, I did bother to do that) leaves me even more confused as all the dates don't seem to match up properly. But this could even be done on purpose, as the entire point of this thing is to make everything mysterious and ambiguous. Was Sendek killed? Was there some supernatural element in his disappearance? Is he still alive? None of these questions is answered, but that's not the point of this comic.

Instead this comic is all about creating an atmosphere and mood of mystery, and it succeeds admirably. (I'm a little jumpy and creeped out right now due to it being 2:30 am, reading this comic multiple times, and reading about Lord Lucan and other people who have disappeared.)

Artwise Azzopardi does a good job, using different styles and techniques on various pages. Some pages are quite sketchy, while others are considerably more detailed, and one even features edited photographs (is there a better term for this than "photoshopped"?). Azzopardi also switches between using solid bordered panels (often using a tight nine-panel grid to fit in the necessary dialogue and narration), and pages where various images meld into each other with no border in the way. Combined these two techniques help to add to the atmosphere of the stories and the events surrounding them, confusing the information and making the reader question what truth there might be in each story.

Overall this is worth checking out, if you're into ambiguous, frustrating works that have no real ending. I want to know who this person was, and what was going on with their disappearance, and hopefully one day, if Azzopardi and Noble decide to release another comic, I'll find out. If I don't though, that's okay too, as this comic has succeeded both in its narrative goals and in being entertaining.

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