There are occasions where the very premise of a comic is as much a hook for investigating its contents further as its creative team or genre are. Writer Emmanuel Adelekun and artist Shangomola Edunjobi’s One Page Comic Collection tells eleven stories from a variety of genres, all within the boundaries of one single page. What the creators have set for themselves here is a collaborative challenge in pacing, narrative brevity and imaginative plotting. And what marks this out as such a fun exercise in storytelling gymnastics is that the duo approach their limited structural canvas not as an environment that restricts and constrains but instead as one with its own unique properties and opportunities.
The springboard for this project is Shangomola Edunjobi’s short story ‘Scarlet’, the winner of the 2014 London Graphic Novel Network A3 Comic Competition. For those unaware of his work, Edunjobi is also one of this year’s Broken Frontier ‘Six Small Press Creators to Watch’. Those wanting to investigate his work further should check out my Broken Frontier review last year of his coming-of-age comic Miseyieki here. ‘Scarlet’ is also included in One Page Comic Collection as a record of where the book’s inspiration came from.
The stories here jump between genres and include different takes on super-heroes, horror, western, action heroes and science fiction, among others. Each has a twist ending with Adelekun showing a canny propensity for overturning expectations in such a brief narrative space. Sometimes that is achieved by genre subversion as in the sci-fi story ‘Invaders’ and on some occasions it’s by playful misdirection through the exploitation of our assumptions about perspective, as in ‘Senseless Animals’ (below right) which is set in the natural world.
Each offering has its own limited colour palette which complements the themes or tone of its subject matter. While Edunjobi’s work has matured and developed considerably since this collection was published his visual storytelling is confident throughout – a shocking and brutally pivotal moment in the first “super-hero” story ‘Costumes’ for example (above left), or his changes in viewpoint and direction in those stories that are essentially talking heads to create a wider sense of space, time and environment. The strongest offering is ‘Invaders’ where his panels reflect the story’s contrived ambiguity to stark effect when we reach its tables-turning denouement.
Available both in digital and print formats One Page Comic Collection is a diverting compilation of economically constructed comics craft. While a snappier title would have maybe benefitted it as a selling point (with ‘A One Page Comic Collection’ perhaps acting as a sub-title) the further volume hinted at in the book’s afterword would be a welcome prospect indeed.
Review by Andy Oliver