Imagine this scenario: You read comic book after comic book, devouring them with growing interest, and it’s come to the point where you feel compelled to create your own content, your own characters, your own comic book. After enough people tell you it’s good enough for public consumption, you decide to put it out there, to realise your dream.
Sound familiar? It should. It’s probably the “origin” story of many comic creators in the industry today – with no less than Marvel’s premiere talent scout C. B. Cebulski confirming that distributing a self-made comic book is usually an artist or a writer’s best bet at being discovered.
At this year’s Singapore Toy, Games and Comics Convention (STGCC), we’ll see the release of yet another locally made comic book from newcomer Jayfri Hashim, a “sci-fi graphic novel” entitled Ian Glover: The Uprising 1. HereBeGeeks snagged a copy and we review it under the cut.
Ian Glover is a full-colour 30-page book printed on good quality Letter-sized glossy paper with a slightly thicker cover. It is clear that no expense was spared in the production of this book, though I’m disappointed to say that’s just about the only good thing I can say about it.
Creator Jayfri Hashim is an artist, first and foremost, so let’s start there. The art is inconsistent, with some of the broad stroke reminiscent of a Newground Flash game. That also pretty much describes how dated it feels – like it was stuck in the late 90’s. According to the blurb in the front of the book, the character of Ian Glover was created in mid-2002 – and clearly it hasn’t changed much since then. What is also disappointing is the way certain characters have been recycled panel after panel. The biggest culprit would be Father Dupree, who appears quite often – it’s obvious that Jayfri simply does a copy-paste in every panel the character appears.
All that being said, it’s rather regrettable that the art is the least of its problems.
No, I dare say the real issue with this “graphic novel” is the story, and it also hints at a much deeper problem. In its hardcopy format, it is known as Ian Glover: The Uprising 1. In its original webcomic format, however, it was known as Ian Glover: The Nighthunter, and can still be seen on the “Ian Glover” Facebook page. Though Hashim is credited as the writer, it is Jerry Hinds, founder and president of the Association of Comic Artists (Singapore), who is credited as “editor” and “scriptwriter”. Now this wouldn’t be an issue if all Hinds did was polish up the language, but when comparing the hardcopy version with its online counterpart, you start to notice very significant differences.
For one thing, it appears that the original intention was just to create a vampire-killing action hero, but with the new script, there are attempts to create a more layered protagonist as well as some form of character development. All well and good, but all that exposition in the short span of 30 pages meant that so much is squeezed into each page that at one or two pages in I was just about ready to quit reading altogether. In fact, reading Jayfri’s original story was ironically much easier, despite the weaker English.
Ultimately, though, the real disappointment was the storytelling. Jayfri has created an interesting world, where his version of “vampirism” is actually a high-tech serum meant to give the less fortunate a distinct advantage in life. However, the plot feels like multiple mini-stories that don’t sync together, resulting in either very jarring scene transitions, or transitions that require a lot of exposition stuffed into a panel. I’ve no doubt that if Hinds had helped Jayfri to develop his storytelling skills, the story could have flowed better. As it is, Hinds only seemed to be making the most of what panels already existed.
All in all, definitely a work in progress that should have had more polish. Yet, despite the multiple flaws, there might still be something in there for you to support, especially since he’s a local artist that was willing to take a risk on this.
Ian Glover retails at $7.90 at Books Kinokuniya, but you can get it for a special STGCC price of $6 at JHC Studio, booth G48.
Oh and by the way, today is Read Comics in Public Day! What comic book will YOU be caught reading?