By Robert Frank Hunter
Published by NoBrow Press
Hardback – 56 Full Colour Story Pages – RRP £12.99
The Story: Richard can’t stop thinking about the clock. He lies in bed each night, listening to its tick-tocking to the pendulum’s heavy swing. Why does his grandfather open its dark doors in secret and walk into the darkness beyond!?
One night, too inquisitive to sleep, Richard tip-toes from his bed, opens the cherry wood door of the grandfather clock and steps inside. There, in a strange twilight, he sees the face of the Earth, locked forever in a simulated world, where green things seem to grow in the semblance of trees and plants, from unreal soil…
The Review: First published in 2013 by NoBrow, this is a new edition of a book that deals with both some big ideas. The creation of the Solar System for example – alongside some more personal moments in the relationship between a boy and his grandfather.
Map of Days has a raft of themes, not least of all dreams, creation, relationships, secrets, the functions and mysteries of this world and beyond and moments of pure, dangerous beauty.
It sits in style somewhere between a comic and an illustrated story. Its panels lead in the most part from moment to moment and tell a sequential story, but Map of Days doesn’t make use of word or thought balloons. This gives the reader the function of an observer. You watch as the story unfolds, distant to the movement but viewing the whole of the canvas. It might take possibly a couple of rereads to make full sense of it all, and does have moments I found that were a tiny bit confusing and this resulted in me becoming disconnected to the story for a couple of short intervals.
But you can ignore all that and float in its gorgeous images and style. Map of Days really does offer an incredible canvas full of splendid complications, organic yet at times angular in its imagery and metaphor. I marvelled at the originality of the framing and the format, which works like an abstract jigsaw, making you work in following the flow of the images through and around the pages. Each moment is geometrically folded into the next with precise logic and tone.
Map of Days is essentially a parallel to a modern fairy tale and like those stories of old has that added tension and some sinister overtones. I sensed with some trepidation that there are some underlying and unspoken themes of the loss of innocence as the trip doubles as an emergence into adulthood. (I might need to speak to Robert about those before jumping to any conclusions).
I left this book within reach for the last week or so and find that I have been reaching for a re-read, over and over. At £12.99 you cannot fail to get value for money from such a detailed artefact. Basking in the cracks between reality and unreality, Robert Hunter is fast climbing my personal list of creators you need to look out for in the upcoming years. Superb stuff.
• There will be a launch event for Map of Days at the Libreria Bookshop, 65 Hanbury Street, London E1 5JP on Thursday 19th January, 7.00 – 9.00pm
Robert Frank Hunter is a London based illustrator. Working on range of projects in both print and moving image, he is keen to keep applying his work to new disciplines. Robert currently works from Lighthouse Studios in east London and is signed to Blink art
• You can find more about this book and order a copy at www.nobrow.net
• Buy Map of Days from amazon.co.uk – using this link helps support downthetubes
Thank you for reading.
Antony Esmond is a comic reviewer and writer – his hips don’t lie.