Comic Review: Echolands #1 Raw Cut Edition (Image Comics)

From Image Comics, the Raw Cut Edition of issue #1 of Echolands arrives lying flat. It lays out along its long horizontal landscape, (which in my review copy is simply […]

From Image Comics, the Raw Cut Edition of issue #1 of Echolands arrives lying flat.

It lays out along its long horizontal landscape, (which in my review copy is simply shown as row upon row of tightly packed horizontal images) with J.H. Williams and W Haden Blackman as cowriters and cocreators.

“Hope’s Crucible”, opens with a small group of people in a town square, thieving. Things get bad when one of the thieves is captured, but there are those in the group who see this simply as a challenge, a bit of sport, a ‘stiff upper lip’ moment. We shall escape, we shall run to the woods such as a Robin Hood might, our swords seeing a spirited joust, and that sort of thing. But then there is the magic element, entracing, intriguing.

And that perhaps is enough to keep us engaged. Well, not enough for me, as I am easily confused.

J. H. Willams and Drew Gill have designed this comic title to flow horizontally, without the usual conceits of comic book narrative. Panel borders come and go, sometimes there, other times absent, a free-flowing all-immersive experience. Cinema- vérité without context or controls.

And as J. H. Williams illustrates Echolands, the images are astonishing but incomprehensible. There is no foreground/background distancing. We strain to decipher the wall-to-wall drawings, each element as firmly rendered as everything else. Is that a face? It that a figure? No focus, no panels, no guidance. We are surrounded by incredibly detailed buffets and buckets of seafood, bricks, faces, and buildings, all fighting to be the thing we look at next.

It’s all too much, and I wish for some editing, some simplification. It’s a Persian rug filled with exotic adventure, but additionally hampered by (incredibly enough) semi-transparent word balloons which render Todd Klein’s excellent lettering almost indecipherable. You can’t read it.

A great story, wonderfully imagined but misguided in its realization. More is simply ‘more’ sometimes, and I wish that there was a little less rendering and a little more editing. Yet perhaps this is the nature of a Raw Cut Edition. Check this out if you are enticed by the worldmaking of it all.

Bonus pages: behind-the-scenes details and dialogue about the genesis of the project, along with an exhaustive four-page music playlist. Wow.

Image, Echolands Raw Cut Edition $4.99 with a Mature rating.

Alan Spinney

About Alan Spinney

After a career of graphic design, art direction and copywriting, I still have a passion for words and pictures. I love it when a comic book comes together; the story is tight, and the drawings lead me forward. Art with words... the toughest storytelling technique to get right. Was this comic book worth your money? Let's see!!