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Line of Fire reviews: Absence

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This review was originally published on Comics Bulletin, but appears to have been removed, and has been rescued from Google Cache.

Line of Fire reviews: AbsenceEdit

Posted: Saturday, June 25, 2011
By: Kelvin Green
Andy Luke
Stephen Downey
Self-published

You can read Absence online at http://absencecomic.com.

Now this is going to get complicated. Absence is not to be confused with The Absence, a comic I've reviewed on previous occasions, as they're quite different; for a start, I know what the title refers to in the case of Absence, and I'm still none the wiser when it comes to The Absence.

I think I've confused myself now.

Right, so we're dealing with the one that definitely has no definite article, and to be honest it's a bit review-proof. For a start it's free, and it's difficult to say that something is or is not worth your money if it doesn't cost anything; moreover Andy Luke has written a comic about his experiences of living with epilepsy, and to turn around and say it's a rubbish comic would reveal me as an insensitive git of David Cameron proportions. With that in mind, it's a good thing indeed that it's not rubbish, although the jury's still out on that other bit.

It would be oh so easy to turn something like this into a depressing and overly earnest exercise in misery and self-pity or -- worse -- make it dull, but Luke avoids such pitfalls, with a recognition that some of the stuff he has to deal with is sort of funny and weird, and moreover that it's okay to think so. There's a sense of honesty running right through the comic, and the conversational tone of the writing adds a great deal of charm.

Stephen Downey's art is light and loose and suits the low-key pace of the writing, with some subtle and effective grey shades used to add a bit of depth to the linework. The storytelling is for the most part excellent, and Downey hops from flashbacks to direct-to-reader sequences and back with ease, and the whole thing has a distinct Scott McCloud feel to it. There are a couple of places where the flow of the -- for lack of a better word -- narrative squeals to a halt and the comic goes a bit educational, but since it is sort of an educational comic that's to be expected, and it could be a lot worse. As if to balance those moments, there are also some clever storytelling tricks used here and there, like the girl who undergoes a seizure and literally falls off the page onto the next, or the very first page in which the creators make inspired use of the gutter to mimic the effect of an epileptic absence.

Absence is a charming and engaging comic with good art, which just so happens to also be educational. It could be rather important education too, so you know, it's free and will only take ten minutes to read, so go and have a look. I had no idea what to do when I first witnessed an epileptic episode and if I'd known even the basic information conveyed in this comic, I'd have saved everyone involved a lot of hassle.

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