cover image One Line

One Line

Ray Fawkes. Oni, $24.99 trade paper (184p) ISBN 978-1-62010-934-2

Fawkes follows up One Soul with a poetic account of 18 families from across the world and spanning 400 years, making nimble use of formal constraints. After a series of one-panel pages featuring cave-dwelling early humans establishes the theme—that families are often born out of violence—Fawkes settles into a nine-panel grid (mirroring the number of family lines, with 18 panels across each spread). This pattern sets a rhythm, flipping from one group to the next. Despite the multiple characters with varied story lines, Fawkes creates thematic unity by exploring similar experiences for each family—for example showing how different couples provide comfort to each other. Clever visual rhymes include a sequence where images in black and white negative space toggle contrasts: a boat in one panel becomes lovers in the next, then reverses again in the row’s final panel. The script is restrained (“We survive.” “I find someone.” “I weep.”). As time proceeds and some family lines die out, blacked-out panels appear on the page, reflecting the brutal and capricious nature of fate. Fawkes’s light touch as a cartoonist leaves room for the reader to fill in the resonant moral: despite persistent violence and hatred, humanity remains connected in “one line.” (July)