The graphic novel, originally part of a Kickstarter campaign, was put together by former Vertigo editor Shelly Bond. It features a large number of comic book creators (and creative teams) who each have one nine-panel page to teach the reader how to do something new - like meditate. It’s an exercise in creativity for the folks who worked on it. A nine-panel page is rarely seen in comics these days but was used most notably by the late Steve Ditko, especially on his Amazing Spider-Man run. This was picked up by Alan Moore in his works like Watchmen and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. The art in Hey, Amateur follows what Ditko and Moore did with their “nine-panel grid” (all of equal size and shape in 3 tiers of 3 panels each). The notable exceptions to this are the following: Karrie Fransman who takes inspiration from the great Will Eisner to modify the panel shapes to the point in which they shrink in the last tier; Lucy Sullivan who dispenses with panels all together which gives the reader a sense of space; Leah Moore and Nanna Venter do this, as well, but in a much different way that makes the page feel more crowded; Alex Paknadel and Simon Bisley whose first 6 panels stretch across the page; and Megan Hutchison who works within the grid while changing the center to make the point of what she is teaching.
As for the instructions themselves, they range from the interesting to the down right hilarious. They are told in both captions and word balloons (depending on the creator), and there are a variety of different subjects. Are they useful? Well, at the end of the day, who wouldn’t want to learn how to make a talisman and then destroy it before it gets you?
This book is a pure joy to read, from the absolute home run introduction by Kelly Sue DeConnick to the explanation of the nine-panel grid by Jim Rigg. Shelly Bond pulls together so many talented creators that it’s ridiculous. As much as I wish I could mention them all, there are just too many to be named here. She even writes one of the pages herself. There are not many graphic novels like this, especially ones that are gold from beginning to end.
Highly Recommended: 4 out of 4 stars
Creative Team: Shelly Bond and various
Publisher: IDW Publishing
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