How A.D. After Death Will Change Your Opinion About Comics
I could probably make a safe assumption that if you’re reading a comic book review on this site, you may not need much prodding to read A. D. After Death by Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire. In fact you may have already read this three-book series. But, in case you haven’t, or have been trying to sway your friends or family over to reading comics I’m here to help.
This isn’t a normal comic review. Sure, I could tell you this is a story about Jonah Cooke, the messed up world he lives in and how he got there, but I don’t want to spoil anything for you. I want to whet your appetite. I want you to be as surprised as I was the first time I read it. There are many distinct decisions made by the creators for the presentation of this book that helps to elevate it to what I consider the “next level” of comics.
Magazine Format - Most comic books are, well, comic book sized. A.D. is in a larger magazine format with a bound spine instead of the usual staples that hold together comics. This makes the book feel much more substantial in your hands, like you are holding something special. Plus the extra printing space makes more room for great artwork.
Artwork - The first time I saw Jeff Lemire’s artwork I was confused. What was wrong with everyone’s noses? Once I started reading his work I began to appreciate his style. It’s different. It’s unique. You know it’s his work when you see it and it always seems to convey the complex emotions of his words (and of Scott Snyder’s work here). Some might find his art a slight hurdle but trust me, it’s perfect.
Story Presentation - There are two parts of this story, the past and the present (which is way in our future). Snyder tells Jonah’s present story in an almost conventional comic book way, pages broken up in panels and a lot of Lemire’s artwork. But when he switches to telling history - how Jonah (and the world) got to where he is now it switches to a novel-like telling. Snyder uses a lot of prose to tell a entrancing back story that keeps you guessing about how it leads to the present time. Lemire’s work is mostly used sparingly on these pages with splashes of color and a drawing or two that correspond with the paragraphs of text. And speaking of the text...
Lettering - Comic book creation is a complex collaboration between the writer, artist, colorist and letterer. If everyone is in sync you get a flawless book that is so cohesive that many forget to give credit to everyone involved. Lemire does double duty in this book and colors his own illustrations (and the color work is great). So the other star of this book is the letterer Steve Wands. Since this is such a text heavy book there is a lot of focus on the words, how they are formatted on the page and how they lead you on this journey. Sometimes they line up as neat paragraphs on the top of the page. Sometimes they flow back and forth with the artwork. Other times they form a pattern or a shape, always keeping the page interesting to look at and read.
Put all this together and it’s another masterpiece from Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire. I can’t recommend A. D. After Death enough.