Claire Connelly and Eric Grissom created a successfully project through Kickstarter that challenges many assumptions about comics format, illustration, the the use of language in adult narratives. Their book The Mark is told verbally in the form of a narrative poem divided into stanzas. The stanzas appear on a left hand white page. They accompany a right hand page that is either a single page illustration or a series of silent comic panels.
The use of the panels on some pages alone is enough to classify the book as a graphic poem. Calling it a graphic novel has its own issues! The challenging nature of their presentation–though it is in fact very easy to read and follow–was enough to make this a likely project for Kickstarter. Publishers don’t tend to like books that break boundaries in what “type” of medium they are since that makes it hard for retailers and for book stores to shelve things, much less promote them.
Written by Grissom and lavishly illustrated in black and white, with grey washes, by Connelly, The Mark is a newly crafted folktale or fairy tale that taps into many archetypes still relevant today. It follows the life of a young trapper in the woods who, far from her village, braves the night alone in the wilderness. She breaks a terrible taboo by using the wood from a sacred tree to make a fire, and her life is changed forever.
The story’s eerie rhymes conjure up medieval stories and take you deep inside the atmospheric world of the book. We encounter versions of the past haunting the present day, and even the lovely endpapers on the book suggest there is a much bigger world at play, one the creators could potentially visit again.
The silent format of the right hand pages give Connelly room to work on the expressiveness of faces and the imposing and dark aspect of the magical past.
While Grissom’s use of language is pared down, simple, but direct about the realities of the world of The Mark.
The book’s Kickstarter was successful, and is being fulfilled. Meanwhile, Grissom and Connelly are now offering the book for sale online through their imprint, Frankenstein’s Daughter. It’s a large format, horizontally presented book in hardcover, with illustrated dust jacket with a very attractive design.
Claire Connelly is known for her webcomic work on ClaireConnellyComics.com as well as graphic novels and miniseries. She and Eric Grissom have previously worked together on the Animals comic series and The Unauthorized Biography of Winston Churchill.
Eric Grissom has also written the comics Deadhorse, Gregory Suicide, and Animals, and has an upcoming graphic novel at Dark Horse within the Gregory Suicide universe with artist Will Perkins.
You can check out The Mark for sale online here.