Daily Graphic Novel Recommendation 28

Far Arden

by Kevin Cannon
Genre notes: Arctic naval exploration, dark humour
Pages: 382
ISBN: 1603090363 (Amazon)

Comedies are ridiculously difficult to pull off over the long haul. Generally, their shtick gets a little long in the tooth well before the halfway mark and the same would have held true for Far Arden had it not gradually developed into a compelling story with decently well-realized characters.

Following Army Shanks, a man “as cold and unforgiving as the Arctic herself,” author Kevin Cannon treats the reader to a bizarre journey through arctic locales and jaw-dropping onomatopoeia. Shanks makes his way through fishing villages, queer universities, and frozen islands (which apparently actually exist in that nefarious and frigid land known as Canada) along with an entourage of friends, enemies, and former friends and former enemies. All to the end of finding Far Arden, the mythical island whose discovery has devoured (and will devour) the lives of almost every principle character in Cannon’s book.

Throughout the book Cannon skirts the border of believability, never quite falling into a world that jibes with reality, but never going so far into fantasy that we don’t understand there are certain mortal rules common to both our reality and his. Relationships tack as they do in our world, those mauled by polar bears don’t get up, and ambition can kill. That said, there are golden narwhals that will direct willing sailors to paradise. So you’ve got that going for you.

For those curious about the art style of the book, Kevin Cannon apparently began the book as part of an extreme 24-hour comic experiment—instead of creating a whole 24-page comic in a single 24-hour sitting, he would perform a year’s worth of these sittings monthly to create a single, large book. That lasted for four months, so each of the first four chapters were created in a discreet 24-hour period. After that, he adopted the same style but slowed down his pace to one chapter per month—though not in a single sitting. (I believe the additional time spent shows.)

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