Review: Tessellation #1
The first time I heard about Tessellation was shortly before writer Mike Phillips joined Joe and myself to promote the Kickstarter for the book, and I’ve been waiting to check out the first issue since then.
It’s kind of hard to quantify exactly what Tessellation actually is, because it follows one character by the name of James (Jim) Beach across four stories that sort of intersect, but are mostly independent of each other. Technically this could be an anthology comic (which is what the preview blurb calls the book), but that’s doing a gross disservice to what Phillips has written here. You see Tessellation #1 is one hell of an ambitious book. The story starts out following Jim as he goes about his fairly mundane life that’s not quite rosy until we see him come to a pivotal yet entirely innocuous decision that changes his life entirely. From here the comic split into three concurrent stories each following what would happen depending on what choice Jim made in The Moment (there’s also a fourth story that adds a lot to the comic, but it’s better left for you to follow that along yourself).
Phillips is joined by artist Hernan Gonzales, colourist Javi Laparra and letterers Julian Darrius and Steven Legge. Gonzales and Laparra really combine to push the book along at a quality to match Phillips’ ambition. It’s a good looking book, with the divergent stories looking very similar with subtle details to differentiate them to the reader’s eye (past a rather obvious set of multiversal coordinates so you’re able to tell when the stories branch out). With a book like this, the layouts are key to helping the reader follow the book, and here Gonzales’ elegant simplicity is perfect. There’s no flashy double page spreads or angled panels present in this book, and there doesn’t need to be – no, really if there was then there’s a greater chance that you would have a harder time following the multiple stories within this book.
The only gripe I had with the book was that at times it was a little harder to figure out which of two specific stories you were following – but it didn’t impact the score beyond a tenth of a point because there’s only a panel or two that it really becomes an issue, and you can almost read those panels as being a part of either story. That said I wouldn’t have minded a slightly more obvious way to differentiate the stories on my first read through, but it wasn’t needed by the second. Tessellation #1 is one of those comics that absolutely benefits from multiple rereads because you’re able to pick up on a lot of smaller details, and the nuance that Phillips has woven into the tale.
Tessellation #1 is a uniquely ambitious comic with a creative team that’s firing on all cylinders; if you’re looking for something different to read, then look no further than publisher Martian Lit‘s website. You’ll not regret it.
Writer: Mike Phillips Artist: Hernan Gonzales
Colorist: Javi Laparra Letters: Julian Darrius & Steven Legge
Story: 9.5 Art: 9 Overall: 9.3 Recommendation: Buy
Graphic Policy was provided a FREE copy for review
Purchase: Martian Lit