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‘Hexagon Bridge’ awakens a spirit of wonder and adventure

Immerse yourself in the childlike joy of exploration.

As I write this review, I’m regularly looking out my window to the northern skies hoping to catch a view of the otherworldly beauty known as the aurora borealis. An unusually strong solar storm has allowed the natural phenomenon to be seen in locales much further south than normal. And the possibility of witnessing those strangely glowing lights with my own eyes has filled me with a childlike excitement.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t catch even one glimpse of those mysterious colors the past two nights. Instead, my childlike spirit of wonder, adventure and discovery was awakened and thoroughly satisfied in a different way: reading the collected volume of Hexagon Bridge by Richard Blake.

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Hexagon Bridge

Image Comics

Right from the very first chapter, I immersed myself in the mysterious and unreal parallel reality discovered a little over 2000 years in the future. I marveled at the amazingly detailed and nuanced landscapes ranging from snowcapped mountain ranges to vast city skylines. Here in Hexagon Bridge, I was invited to explore, discover and adventure with the full delight of a young vacationer in a medieval European town or a brave hiker descending a perilous box canyon.

I recall a similar sense of mystery and adventure as a young teen first playing the original Myst computer game. In a similar fashion, Blake also transported me to a mysterious setting full of beautiful, unreal and otherworldly images. No matter what was going on, I was drawn in to investigate every scene for little clues and subtle details that might reveal more.

 

Hexagon Bridge

Image Comics

Hexagon Bridge is the debut work of just one man: Richard Blake creates both the story and art. In fact, the only other name on the credits page belongs to editor Oliver Zeller. I noticed the freedom that Blake enjoyed as the singular creator often – at times pages go by without a single word of narration or dialogue.

Yet, it was exactly in these wordless pages that I could immerse myself fully into the beauty of Blake’s drawings, exploring this strange world along with the characters.

Blake has a skill for creating gorgeously uncanny settings. The cities and neighborhoods look at once very familiar –suburban American or medieval/Victorian European architecture. But Blake adds fantastical elements –certain buildings and objects are floating, sometimes separated into their individual parts. It created in me an uneasiness that excited in its beauty and mystery. Even the laboratories of the future scientists mix elements of Victorian Europe with sci-fi technology.

Throughout, Blake gives most images an overall geometric structure – often drawing in standard one- or two-point perspective. It makes everything look vast, immense, somehow timeless. I couldn’t help but lose myself in that feeling of mystery created simply through setting.

Hexagon Bridge

Image Comics

I also marveled at Blake’s skill in sequential visual storytelling. It’s one thing to see a character being dragged by the collar of his shirt. Blake understands that it’s equally important to see the open hand above the collar just before the dragging occurs. Or how strange and nostalgic the folding of a photo can feel, when the photo floats in the air and we watch every fold as it happens. And how often do people really banter or talk to each other as they run for their lives through a labyrinth of streets.

When words are necessary, the narration adds to the overall sense of mystery and wonder. The dialogue sounds natural and easy, no matter if the characters are talking about the loss of parents or explaining how to telepathically navigate in the ever-changing landscape of a parallel reality.

And I instantly grew attached to the characters – both human and robot – who interact with a complexity of emotions and relationships. They are generally kind and authentic to each other. Blake’s depiction of body-language and posture helps immensely. Everyone looks natural no matter what they are doing. No one looks posed.

As with the settings, Blake adds quirky and strange elements to the character designs, especially the robots. 2000 years in the future, the robots dress in what would be considered antique clothing by today’s standards. They also smoke cigarettes as they sit around conversing. They take pictures with film cameras. And at one point, they befriend a Koala Bear, who may or may not be a robot itself. As with the everything in this book, these quirky elements awoke a childlike joy of imagination in my soul.

Hexagon Bridge

Image Comics

You may have noticed that I haven’t really mentioned the story so far. That’s because Hexagon Bridge is worth purchasing based only on all I’ve mentioned so far.

The plot is actually quite simple, even if the sci-fi involved is very high-concept. Basically, it’s about a young woman searching for her missing parents in a strange land.

More thoroughly, the first two cartographers – a married couple – sent to explore and chart the mind-bending parallel reality known as the Hexagon Bridge disappear under mysterious circumstances on their first expedition, leaving their only daughter behind. Twelve years later, the daughter uses her clairvoyant abilities to connect her mind to an advanced robot, who enters the parallel reality in search of the missing parents.

But from there, the real purpose of Hexagon Bridge is the exploration of Blake’s beautiful and uncanny imagery. The underlining mystery and its resolution don’t matter as much as losing yourself in the sense of wonder and adventure that Blake’s art and story-telling awaken. Truthfully, I finished the book thinking a little more could’ve been done with the plot and its ending. But I was also just as eager to reread the whole thing, searching for missed layers of symbolism and meaning.

The only other complaint I had was the lettering, which is not very good. It’s not horrible. It’s functional. This, apparently, was the downside of Richard Blake being the sole creator. His art, characters, concept and most everything are wonderful. But his lettering isn’t. I think an expert letterer could’ve added another layer of beauty to Hexagon Bridge.

Coming to an end, I somehow missed my chance to see the aurora borealis during this solar storm. But I’m so glad that I didn’t miss the chance to read Hexagon Bridge by Richard Blake. And so, I have a few things to look forward to in the future – getting to see the Northern Lights at some point in life and picking up whatever comic Richard Blake creates next.

Hexagon Bridge TPB Cover Crop
‘Hexagon Bridge’ awakens a spirit of wonder and adventure
Hexagon Bridge TPB
Richard Blake creates an incredible parallel reality in the sci-fi adventure 'Hexagon Bridge.' Full of lovable characters with interesting designs, you'll lose yourself in the mysterious, uncanny and spectacular artwork.
Reader Rating0 Votes
0
Incredible, beautiful, immersive artwork.
Filled with a spirit of wonder, exploration and adventure.
Great grasp of visual storytelling.
Wonderfully likable characters.
Lettering is not great.
The story had a little more potential than was realized.
9.5
Great

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