COMIC REVIEW: Forty-Five

Forty-Five is a series of Superhero interviews documented by James Stanley. As a soon-to-be father, James wants to find out what lies in store for his family if his unborn child turns out to have a Superpower. Forty-Five features Forty-Five different industry artists, all having just one page to capture the essence of each interview.

nov·el

a fictitious prose narrative of considerable length and complexity, portraying characters and usually presenting a sequential organization of action and scenes.

graphic novel

a novel in the form of comic strips.

I figured I’d start the review with some definitions because I think a lot of the time you spend reading 45 at the back of you mind will that quiet voice pestering you to define or pigeon hole this piece of work.  The truth is 45 is neither novel or graphic novel it is very much attempting to find a middle ground between the two and carve out  it’s own niche. It is a feat that should be admired and applauded.

I’ve heard claims that the art, while excellent, added little to the story and I could not disagree more. For me, The art both reflected the interviews as well as enhancing the experience. It allowed the reader to spot  nuances that may not be found in the prose. The effect does work better in certain interviews  but overall it is  a very effective means of story telling. I also loved the way that the interviews had their own timeline and showed from  birth to death the journey of a superhero, living in this world, and the all the positives and negatives that journey can bring. For some it is a blessing from the gods and for others a curse they would give anything to have removed.

There is also a sinister thread running through the interviews which  although well done and did intrigue me I don’t think it was really needed. The weight of some of the interviews and a father’s desire to learn what awaits his unknown child was more than a drive for the stories narrative. On saying that is was still well done and left me wanting to know more. I’m guessing this underlying storyline will be revisited and I’m interested to see where this dark thread leads.

One of the draws of 45 is that it features some of the industrys brightest and best artists and anyone flipping through the pages of this book can see I was not an exaggerating. The art is stunning and for some of the artists this is their best work, to date. It’s interesting to see the different approaches and styles the artists have used to reflect each interview and it would be cool to get a little more insight into the creative process (this is crying out for an Absolute style edition). One thing is for certain …45 is a pretty book.

For those people coming to this expecting a typical graphic novel layout 45 will come as a bit of a shock and may need some perseverance. This book will not be for everyone but everyone should check out the previews and judge for yourself before make a knee jerk decision not to pick this up for  not being something you expect.

In an industry which is constantly being accused of being ‘event-driven’ Com.X,  like so some many other independent comic companies, are trying to offer their readers something different and fresh.

At the start of this review I posed the question “What is 45?  I think, in many ways, 45 is a business model for comx. There are already plans afoot to give some of the characters within the pages of 45 their own comics and I’m sure they wont be the last. There is enough scope  in these characters to sustain the creative mind of Andi Ewington and anyone else delving into this world for a good many years. 45 feels like a sourcebook for a new world of Supers and Norms that is being created before our eyes and it will be interesting to see where that world is in the next five to ten years.

“What is 45?”

A fantastic blend of art and prose that everyone should read.

GS Reviewer: Nuge

3 comments

  1. anyone stating the art doesn’t add to this story just wasn’t paying attention because if you look at the images closely more of the story is told in those one page pictures adding a lot more to what you’re reading. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again man…this is Book of the Year material here and I don’t think another OGN will come out this year that will top Forty Five45!

  2. An all ’round incredibly written piece!

  3. Wonderfully well written post.

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