By Justin McCarty
MD Penman’s second story in his Eimurian Tales is a story of a young boy, Malwynn. He lives in the shadow of his abusive father, a storied soldier. In an effort to escape his wrath he stumbles upon a fissure that could bring back war to the area. Out of that fissure, Malwynn befriends an elf - shadir in the setting of the story. It is very much a hero’s journey. He must overcome his guilt, his father has made him believe it was his fault his mother died. He must stand up to his father.
Penman has stated that the Eimurian Tales are an exercise in world-building through characterization instead of epic storytelling. Because of that, this book lacks narration. There is a very noticeable lack of caption boxes, a noticeable lack of text altogether for a lot of the book. I think he’s succeeding here with his focus on a few characters and their lives. The world they inhabit comes through naturally, no need for exposition.
Penman’s style takes advantage of the medium in some interesting ways. The text is initially used sparingly in the book, only used when absolutely needed. The lack of dialogue and text highlight the language barrier between Malwynn and his new friend. The lettering in the book is not just used for information delivery or onomatopoeia. Dialogue is often used as part of the images, scratched across to show anger.
Without a lot of text, the flow of the book falls to layouts to keep the eye moving. Penman puts layouts to work very effectively as Malwynn and the shadir build their relationship. With no text, using only panels, we get the sense of a lot of time passing, and these two very different characters becoming best friends. A fantastic use of layouts showing the strength of the sequential art form.
I feel if I don’t mention Penman’s rendering of Mallory, Malwynn’s father as if we are seeing him through the eyes of Malwynn, as an explosion of hate and anger. It is only at the end of the book when Malwynn stands up to his father, and he overcomes his guilt, that Malwynn, along with the reader, finally see his dad’s face, as a man.