Wednesday, May 16, 2012

One Soul by Ray Fawkes

In One Soul, Canadian comics artist Ray Fawkes chronicles the lives of 18 people, all of them born in different eras and in different parts of the world. Each double-page spread has 18 black-and-white panels, and each panel follows one person from babyhood until death. Fawkes uses the crown chakra to represent the soul at significant moments, and echoes this image in other panels with a shock of hair, a hair ornament or some other focus on the forehead. After death, that person's panel goes black. The afterlife or soul continues with occasional white text in these dark panels.

The story lines include a baby left in a basket at the door of a church, a child born into slavery, and the rags-to-riches adventures of a lucky man. There is a gay shepherd in a primitive time and place, while the most contemporary setting follows a lesbian drug addict.

You can flip through the book and focus on any one of these stories at a time. What is most powerful, however, is reading all 18 stories at the same time, as they are presented on the page. They form one multilayered portrait emphasizing the common aspects of human existence. Love, kindness, religious faith of all kinds, greed, cruelty, redemption... all of it. This is a magnificent book.


avisannschild said...

Ooh, I want to read this! Unfortunately, my library doesn't have it, but I've added it to my wish list!

Lindy said...

Avis, your public library might be open to suggestions for purchase. It's worth checking into, for this and other great books that have been missed by the collection librarians.