By Dustin Cabeal
Time travel stories can all be boiled down to certain elements depending on the rules at play. The most common rule set that is widely known comes from Back to the Future. The rules govern the story and often make for predictable twists. That said, you’re not so much reading to see the time travel elements, but the journey of the characters.
The story is about a man on the verge of cracking time travel but receives a message of sorts from the future forewarning him of events to come. He stops his work and focuses on the “message,” trying to figure out how he can get his life back on course. With Time is of the Essence being a short story and about time travel I’m not going to give you more than that. Even telling you a hint of the deeper plot will certainly spoil the journey the story takes you on in Time is of the Essence.
What Time is of the Essence does quite well is keep you guessing. It even asks if time is locked in and our choices are irrelevant or if its fluid and something we can change. It’s the story beats in which it asks this question that provide intrigue and keep the story from being straightforward with its answers. The story has very little dialogue; it’s carried by the narration running throughout. Deniz Camp’s writing is particularly strong here, adding emotion and depth to the main character in a short amount of time (pun intended due to the title). The story has a complete emotional journey which made it a treat to read.
There is a professionalism to the artwork that I frankly don’t see enough from indie comics. Not only is Romain Brun a talented artist, but he’s quite the visual storyteller. The narration and art aren’t one for one, meaning the narration doesn’t say what the art is showing. Instead, the art is telling an entirely different part of the story that we don’t need narration to understand. The panel choices are very robust giving the story an excellent flow. The line work is detailed, clean and colored wonderfully by Julien Brun. The coloring is very circular, much like the story, in that the hue it begins with is where it ends. It’s like a sweeping gradient, but it’s a solid fit for the artwork and the story.
Without having read Time is of the Essence’s competitors, I can see why it was picked. You could easily publish this in any anthology because of the level of skill and professionalism that’s on display. The story is tightly woven, and while it’s delivering a message that you’ve likely read before, it does so with so much heart and sincerity that it’s hard to ignore. If you have the chance, you should check the short story out. It’s a fantastic debut of sorts for the creators, and I’ll be looking forward to seeing more from them all.
Time is of the Essence – Winner – Short Story, Ghost City Comics Competition
Writer: Deniz Camp
Artist/Letterer: Romain Brun
Colorist/Letterer: Julien Brun