Review: The Circle #1

Originally posted on Irish Comic News (12/Sept/2016)

Written and illustrated by Jay Penn.

The Circle was launched at Dublin Comic Con and was a comic that I missed while picking up various small-press titles. Fortunately for me, the creator was good enough to send me on a copy of issue one.

It’s evident from Penn’s Patreon page that he has been building up to The Circle given that he has four illustrated stories (which are free to read, so no excuse not to check them out!) relating to the characters that feature in issue one.

Issue one of the The Circle is usual in that it’s a hybrid of the traditional comic format and illustrated prose. And while I was initially somewhat skeptical of how the story was presented, once I got a couple of pages into it I found that it worked quite well.

The comic section (which alternates with the illustrated prose section on every double page spread) focuses on the wizard Longbeard who is musing on times past while making plans towards regaining the position of power he once had. The prose section introduces us  to the rest of the cast as they are called to the scene of the climax of the comic.

I think that separating the Longbeard story into the comic and the rest into the prose was a good choice rather than continuing a singular story through the two formats. After the first prose section, the rhythm of the stories and the two formats  becomes obvious to the reader and avoids potential confusion that could have arose due to the two formats.

The comic section is well drawn with good clear storytelling. The prose sections features a singular illustration of the character of focus for that particular double-page spread. The illustrations in those sections might have benefited from a bit of variety since all images are of the characters standing upright. But given that a lot of text is dictating the layout of the pages, I can appreciate that this is easier said than done.

The first issue of The Circle is a really good opener to the series. Between the dual format and the cliffhanger, I am quite interested to see what issue two (scheduled  for November 1 release) brings us.

The Circle on Facebook.

Jay Penn on Patreon.

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