Nandor Fox Shaffer brought his Lifeline graphic novel together through Kickstarter last year and with a number of artists involved that I know, I was keen to see what he’d created.
Inside is the story of Lewis Wakefield as we see him in the current day as he faces a timely medical emergency and quicker than you can say “Get me an ambulance” we’re whisked back through some of the big moments in his life courtesy of a collection of artist who all vary in style. The passing years for Lewis are all tied together with the glimpses of his hospital trip and the arrival of his family but it’s all key in asking the big question of “Was my life worth living?”
The big moments that punctuate that very question are a mixed bag of highs & lows and it’s strange how a story with a bittersweet edge can become so involving & comforting in a way. The challenges of life roll out across each chapter for Lewis but while the fact that he’s able to come through each is reason enough for a life feeling like an achievement, there’s still an air of ‘what could have been’ that haunts him. Each difficulty he faces shapes him and it feels like every step along the way he’s earning the tag being a good man which still feels like a positive given the soul searching he goes through. Times of strife are heavy on his heart but the gains he’s made for coming through each of them filters through into his wider family and you can sense the caring in each & every page.
By the end of book it’s been a rollercoaster ride for Lewis but Nandor has done a great job in keeping those tied together well with his pacing and while some sections have a lot of dialogue to get though, it does feel like the payoff is worth it as we are gaining a more in-depth sense of involvement with the characters and the story itself. Each of the artists embrace their part in the story – Patrick Buermeyer (Present Day/Cover), Emily Schnall (Chapter 1), Kaden Quinn (Chapter 2), Jasen Smith (colours on Chapter 2), Lyndon White (Chapter 3), Scott Austin (Chapter 4), Wren Nowan (Chapter 5) & Erwin Arroza (Chapter 6) – and it’s an impressive group that’s been put together. It gives each chapter it’s own vibe and helps capture each of the era’s exceptionally well as things unfold for Lewis. Lettersquids work on lettering adds another crucial element to the creative team given the amount of dialogue that’s involved and it helps keep things feeling like the passing of time isn’t held back by the flow of the book as you go form page to page.
The all adds up to Lifeline being one of a number of surprise packages that exist in the indie comics world and while some may feel bogged down with the amount of reading in this release it felt to me like it was warranted given the weight of the subject matter. A life in pictures may be hard to condense down to just a series of chapters but the passage of time, the life lessons and the growth within Lewis himself, proves that the journey in these pages are more than enough to entertain while raising some key questions to ponder.