Monday, December 19, 2011

The Prisoner: An Online Graphic Novel

The fine line separating reality from fantasy is blurred in AMC’s online graphic novel, The Prisoner. In this psychological thriller, a woman named Rebecca Meadows endeavors to free her schizophrenic sister from The Village, a chemical-induced fantasy world constructed by the massive corporation Summakor to imprison people with psychological and mental disorders. She seeks out Leo, a former patient of Summakor, and uses his help to detangle the complex web of reality and fantasy and discover just how deep the rabbit hole goes.

Throughout the journey, the audience experiences a great deal of self-exploration and self-discovery along with the characters as they struggle to find the exit out of this mind-bending maze. The Prisoner does justice to the psychological thriller genre by incorporating many unexpected twists and turns which all lead up to a shocking conclusion. However, like many novels of this genre, it is easy to get lost if the reader doesn’t pay attention and actively follow the story. Despite the short length of only 10 chapters, the read is of moderate difficulty.

As mentioned above, the plot line to this novel holds many surprising twists and turns. This is because it mixes the story of the “real world” with the story of the fantasized village. Without paying close attention, a reader will not be able to clearly identify the “location” (reality or fantasy) as it can change between panels within a chapter. We found this aspect of mixing reality and fantasy very intriguing since it kept our minds keen on paying attention to the small details that can really make a big difference in understanding the story. By attentively reading every detail, a reader may find the conclusion to be not so surprising.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of The Prisoner is not the suspenseful storyline, but how the novel itself is constructed. Reading this novel is akin to “reading” a hybrid of a short-film and comic book: the audience experiences the text and pictorial elements of a comic in combination with timed sequences of animation that bring life and a more tangible sense of movement into the story. This online graphic novel medium accents The Prisoner’s storyline with beautiful results. During particularly suspenseful scenes, the author uses timed animation to his advantage by inserting more pauses into the animation. In contrast, the author uses quick, short animation when the text is the main focus of the scene, so as to not distract the reader from receiving pertinent information. Overall, the online graphic novel creates a more engaging and interactive reading experience, which makes The Prisoner a much more powerful story.

Chrissy and Ramya give The Prisoner a thumbs up for its engaging storyline and even more captivating combination of animation and comics to bring the characters and action to life. The conclusion, though unexpected at first, is fulfilling and doesn’t leave the reader feeling cheated. We recommend The Prisoner to anyone who possesses a strong internet connection and desires a brief, 10-chapter escape from their daily lives. The link to The Prisoner is as follows:

1 comment:

Michael Hancock said...

You masterfully summarize this unique thriller without giving away any spoilers. You identify clearly the challenges that face any reader of this work that blends fantasy and reality. Your review also explores with insight the unique visual dimensions of this online comic and its appropriation of filmic techniques. Thumbs up indeed!