Really Recommended Reading: Timepiece by Ben Avery

Timepiece
Written by Ben Avery
Illustrated by Sherwin Schwartzrock, Darren Brady, David McConnehey, Jennifer King, Jesse Hamm, Wil Hartman, Brian Proctor, Amy Robbins, Jerry Welch, Monte Wilson and Dave Zimmerman
28 pages (May 2002)
ISBN: COMM-00005

Synopsis

After a drunk driver killed his wife, Doug Lee is given a mysterious watch that seems to have a miraculous power — the power to move him back in time. Is this the chance he’s been waiting for? A chance to go back and save his wife? Or could he do more and change the course of time by stopping history’s greatest evils? Doug is about to find out that using the watch has life threatening — and life changing — consequences.

Comics are a personal favorite reading material for me. I’ve been reading, drawing, and writing them since I was a kid. The neat afffect of having people roll their eyes and walk around you at the bookstore is also an added bonus. (NOTE: This doesn’t happen in the Far East, an environment where many adults still read comics regularly.) It’s also funny to hear my dear mom still refer to them as “funny books”. Sadly, humor and fun are rare therein. In fact, “garbage” is the only noun that I can incorporate as an adjective to describe them. Comics used to be graded “mature” when they contained nudity, profanity, and so on. Now just about every comic is like that, as if drawing someone naked or composing a story of mostly profanity is “cutting edge” or “daring”. It’s not. It’s old and boring; anybody can do it. What takes real creativity and maturity is to create a comic without any of them.

And that’s where Timepiece comes in.

A few years ago, I had been on a no-comics diet, thinking that I had outgrown the medium. I ordered this comic along with some other things from the group over at the short-lived-yet-fresh the Megazeen, a Christian comic periodical that was so underground that it’s not even bootlegged in China. (I had the pleasure of doing some short comics for them and met some really talented Christian comic book writers and artists there.) They seemed to have been doing some awesomely controversial, yet thought-provoking things from what I saw online (like Tom Hall’s “Tales from the Womb”, which I think still generates hate mail in bulk).

I opened up a package and read Timepiece. It just blew me away.

The Story

I’m not one for dropping spoilers, so I’m not going to detail that here. Let me just say this in all sincerity: I hadn’t read a comic that actually made me want to read it again until I read Timepiece. That is the biggest and best compliment I could pay to a comic author and I think it goes far in showcasing the writing talent of Ben Avery.

The Art

There were a whole batch of artists involved in Timepiece. Since I know a little of the conditions that went into its production, I’ll go a little easier on them.

The art varies from “barely acceptable”, to “obviously rushed” (Jesse Hamm, who usually does stellar work), and then onward to “plain awesome” (Sherwin Schwartzrock, an artist whose work I would say is Marvel-caliber were I to not consider that an insult to his skill level). While some styles don’t really work to tell the story clearly, other styles really make Ben Avery’s strong story just that much stronger.

I can remember sitting and contemplating the entire story after reading it, something that actually happens after each time I read it. And speaking as an artist myself, Timepiece fulfills that entire purpose of art to the full. What is that purpose? Not personal expression, as we’ve been deluded to think is the purpose of art, but communication. It communicated. It pushers the reader to think of things that are deeper than just a story in a comic book. It made me think and made me want to consider our own place in this vast creation and history.

Well done, Ben Avery and Community Comics.

Buy Timepiece here: http://zombieammo.com/CommunityComics/comics_timep.html (real copy just $3.00USD)

Or here: http://www.wowio.com/users/product.asp?BookId=3908 (eBook just $0.99USD!)

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