Mike French & Karl Brown join forces for An Android Awakes from Elsewhen Press which brings together a reading experience that’s more illustrated novel than graphic novel but the impact of prose & art is always an interesting balance.
The book follows android writer PD121928 who is part of the Android Publishing Program as he continues to submit his latest creations……but with rejection coming his way thick and fast he’s on the clock to save himself from being deactivated. What follows from that is a mix of characters, themes and situations that cover a broad range of ideas. In fact, the whole book feels like we’ve tuned into the mind of a writer as a constant flow of stories pour out of his imagination and onto the pages. Largely Sci-fi tales but with a gloriously rich feel to them as the bizarre nature of each becomes normal pretty quick and they weave in and out of the main narrative that surrounds PD121928’s predicament.
The book ultimately feels like a collection of short stories as opposed to one entity but it reminds me of the likes of Bradbury’s Illustrated Man where these are all linked by some higher force and that guiding hand of the central android author’s part in the development of these stories. It’s a new concept from Mike that feels fresh, confusing and intriguing but that’s the overall intention I think and the use of the artwork from Karl seems to hit at just the right time (for the most part) to act as a break from the more bizarre elements of the stories. This mix is a fine balance and some of the art is stark and clean with others feeling jumbled and blurry but that all adds to the new reading experience that we’re being drawn into.
The overall outcome is a bold, almost experimental book that bombards our senses with a broad range of ideas and while that could well have ended up overwhelming it somehow manages to bring it back form the brink of losing you and keep you firmly in the midst of everything that’s going on. It’s got a cult feel to it as I’m sure it’ll have already generated a fanbase that will be delving deeper into the meaning of each and every detail and following the ups n downs of PD121928’s creativity, rejection, writer’s block and more as he tries to keep on going to reach that final goal of having his writing being accepted.
Not exactly a comic or a graphic novel in the end but the artwork adds just as much to the whole title which earns it a high level of recognition in it’s success. Behind that is the collection of stories that Mike has gathered which gets your own mind working overtime as you try to work out where it all fits and just how any of these could be rejected. Well worth a read.