‘The Night After: A 24-Hour Comic’ is a small press title written and illustrated by artist and graphic design wizard Andy Williams. The book is prefaced by an introduction from Williams himself, in which he explains his creative process behind the project as well as outlining exactly what a 24-Hour comic is. A 24-Hour Comic is a storytelling technique first devised by graphic novelist and imaginative maestro Scott McCloud when he challenged a friend and fellow comic creator to write and draw a complete comic book within 24 hours that contained a page for every hour in the day to help them overcome a stubborn bout of artistic block. Williams then goes on to tell the reader why he chose to undertake his own 24-Hour comic 20-something years ago and how he has decided to revisit the story two decades on, giving it an exciting new lease of life and print run to match.
From the first page of ‘The Night After’ the reader can tell that this is a tale crafted from the heart, in the opening panels we are introduced to the protagonist, a grief-stricken young woman who takes us with her on a gradual and painful journey of introspection. The solid black and white colour palette Williams uses throughout is exquisitely evocative and perfectly conveys the main character’s inner darkness. He deftly plays with light and shade, highlighting the visual nuances on each page that give the art its profound depth. He manages to fill every panel with a multitude of delicately drawn details from the filter on the protagonist’s last cigarette to the lifelike texture of her eyelashes in all of the close-up shots. These kinds of illustrative subtleties could easily appear mundane if done by a lesser artist but when rendered with Williams’ level of skill and precision they are incredibly striking.
Williams’ writing is minimalistic yet powerful, the naturally worded monologue of a woman desperately trying to come to terms with a life-changing bereavement. The sentences within each caption are imbued with touchingly realistic heartache that anyone who has lost someone close to them will definitely relate to. Much like the artwork in this book the literary narrative is multi-layered, for beneath the sadness Williams plants a series of intriguingly ambiguous hints concerning a deeper subplot.
When I take into consideration that this entire book has been conceived, written, drawn and lettered by just one artist, there is little I can do as a reviewer but doff my hat.
‘The Night After’ is an extremely well executed comic with raw emotion on every page. A tale of love, loss, despair and most importantly hope that will stay with you for much longer than 24 hours.