Graphic novels are incredible vehicles of artistic storytelling. Good graphic novels grip at attention with intrigue. Great graphic novels offer intrigue with something relatable, something that runs on the magic of empathy. The Sequels falls squarely into the realm of great graphic novels.
The Sequels #1, Circuit Boarders sets up the universe of the tale in a remarkably relatable fashion. Childhood companionship, severed by powers outside of the ability of the child, and the longing for the lost connection swiftly forms the basis of all that follows. Young Avery parts ways with his friend at the culmination of a mad-capped 80s inspired adventure onto a top-secret military facility. Does it sound familiar? It should. The whole of The Sequels pays homage to the stories and plots of the pop-culture of the American 1980s. Right down to the nostalgia in sudden art style swapping when we’re led into the moments in which the companion, Ollie, is gone. Avery tells the story of the time in his life as defined by the time with Ollie, to the time after, and the visuals sing along in perfect duet.
It was this stark, moving differentiation of style, as provided by illustrator and colorist Val Halvorson and Bobby Timony that caught my attention beyond the Jungian offering of a story by Norm Harper. Harper offers us a connection to the tale immediately. The reader understands the feelings of loss right alongside the expertly written Avery, the images of sorrow strengthen the spine of the whole. This series is a gem.
As we move along the narrative, we learn that Avery is not alone. He grows into a sad, yet successful enough fellow. Plotting the beats of a respectable adult life, when suddenly a mysterious man encounters him and urges Avery to meet with others who have ‘had similar adventures’ and feel a lingering unfulfillment with the pain of the endings.
Although hesitant, Avery eventually attends this meeting and we are introduced to other characters that seem pivotal to the whole of The Sequels universe. Each, vibrant. Each with a story to tell and a full personality and path all their own. The characters, Gwendolyn (Gwen is acceptable, Lynn is not), Russ, and Dakota, are immediately deep, multidimensional, and familiar. They become integral to each other, forming bonds in an instant, yet organic way not unlike a support group for people with survivor’s guilt.
The four bond and grow closer. Fulfilling the void of loneliness and understanding that each lacked from their lives. The twist in the hook is that these four have lost contact with friends of extraordinary attributes.
Avery’s Ollie is a robot. Gwendolyn was best friends with an alien. Russ went to a high school with vampires and werewolves, and Dakota … well, Dakota has a cursed stone.
Then, Dakota, who claims to have ‘saved imagination,’ hints that he may have the key to heal the whole of the group: the cursed stone is a wishing stone. On this stone, they may travel to the place-in-time in which those that they’ve lost exist. But at what cost?
Avery goes first and in seeking present day Ollie, the group transports to a horrible place. The last place Avery had hoped Ollie would end up.
The Sequels #1, Circuit Boarders provides the reader with exactly the right footing to delve into a graphic novel universe with zeal. Swiftly, the characters are known, understood, and sympathetic. The adventure (or curse) is rife to explore. You want to read this. I promise you.
The Sequels #1: Circuit Boarders is published by Fanbase Press. Created and written by Norm Harper. Illustrated and colored by Val Halvorson and Bobby Timony. Flattened by Deanna Poppe. Lettered by Oceano Ransford. Cover Art by Don Aguillo.
About The Sequels
The Sequels is a four-issue, creator-owned comic book series written by Norm Harper (Eisner Award-nominated Rikki, The Naughty List) illustrated by Val Halvorson and Harvey Award-nominated Bobby Timony (The Night Owls, The Simpsons), colored/flatted by Deanna Poppe, lettered by Oceano Ransford (A Geek’s Guide to Cross-Stitch, Eisner Award-nominated Rikki), and featuring cover art by Don Aguillo (Rise, Winter, Isugid Pinoy!).
In the height of 1980s nostalgia, The Sequels dares to question whether our grasp on the past is endangering our future:
Remember the ‘80s? Avery, Gwen, Russell, and Dakota will never forget. As children, they each experienced unique adventures . . . saving the life of a sentient robot, partying with an intergalactic alien, battling the likes of vampires and werewolves, and defeating a nightmarish monster to protect imagination itself. Now, 30 years later, they’re directionless adults, still obsessed with their pasts. When a mysterious figure brings the group together to cope with their experiences, will they be prepared to live out the “sequels” to their childhood adventures?
Issues #1-4 of the comic book series will be released digitally through ComiXology starting in February 2019. In addition, the series will be collected into a printed trade paperback that will be released in July 2019.