‘Chronophage’ is derived from the Ancient Greek words ‘chronos’ and ‘phage’, meaning ‘time-eater’.
-Dr. John C. Taylor
Like death, time is something everyone has in common. We experience it, are contained by it, pressured by it. We move through it by making decisions. Some are simple, like what socks to wear to the gym. Some more complex, like getting married or choosing your next Funko Pop. Everyone has faced a decision that they reflect upon for good or bad. And we all move forward with it because we can´t go back. But what if we could?
What if? is the biggest question of all. Disney even made a show about this impossible-to-answer question. No one can know, accurately, what would happen if they changed the past. What if you could change how you ended that relationship? What if you could stop yourself from leaving your family? And the follow-up question is: Would you? Would you change the decisions that made you the person you are today? This deep and personal question is explored in Chronopage, a deep and personal book.
Chronophage is the story of Chloe Lawal, a young single mother who works two miserable paying jobs to survive. She has a daughter, Kai, a teenager in that phase, so she stresses her all the time. Chloe uses her little spare time to work on clothes design, striving to turn her hobby into a better job. Nevertheless, her work and personal life are collapsing. Until one night, at a bar, she meets Heath, an international executive that might give her the love and attention she is so desperately craving.
This tale may sound like a love story, the start of a romantic comedy. But it is not that. Because Heath is not Prince Charming, he is not even human, and the effect he will have on Chloe’s life will make her value what she has.
Besides a tragic love story with lots of explicit sex, this book has drama, sci-fi, and horror with monsters, spirits, and weird creatures. And with all of these fictional, supernatural elements, it teaches us some of the most real life-lessons, in a way the illustrious comics do. Because at its core, this book is about family, decisions, time, and regret. All of what makes us human. Using metaphors, hyperbole, and symbolism, the creators demonstrate they know who their readers are, what they enjoy, and how to deliver it to them.
This story shows us that life repeats itself, and every decision is a learning opportunity for what comes next. Surprisingly, it does so by approaching it from the opposite way, showing the horrible consequences of what would happen if we could change our decisions retroactively.
In addition, it teaches us that, when feeling overwhelmed by life, we should move forward one step at a time. Slow and steady. Our lives are defined by small, brief moments, so we need to live in the present and enjoy what we have. Nowadays, there is a lot of anxiety and stress for the future, and these stories serve as beacons of light that guide us towards self-exploration and happiness.
I couldn’t have had all these feelings if it weren’t for the art and colors in this book. The characters all feel unique, depicting different life stages and views of how life works. I appreciated the parallelisms for addressing distinct moments in time, showing history repeating. The character design holds in a way that everyone is recognizable.
I loved the bright reds and yellows that set the mood for the tense and fast-paced situations, such as ghost encounters and sex scenes. These are passionate and serve a purpose in the story. On the other hand, the calm greens and browns maintain a relaxed atmosphere during the day-to-day lives of the characters. But the cherry on top is the creatures, the gore, and the horror stuff. It is unexpected and scary. It brings a layer of darkness to the story and adds fear to the plethora of emotions that this book transmits. Overall, the artist displays a lot of range in his work.
Given all of the above, I think this book may be dense for new readers because a lot is happening emotionally and on the page. We can move from a simple conversation to a horror scene to a dimension outside of time. But it encompasses all of what comics could be. All the styles and feelings they could provoke. I must say it is an independent graphic novel that does not have chapters, so it reads great in one sitting, and you don’t need to know anything to understand it. But if you want a more light, straightforward kind of book just for fun, this may not be it.
As a side note, I wanted to mention Tom King’s foreword. This one-pager introduces Tim Seeley as a creator, not only a writer but an industry expert. Reading the great Tom King speak so highly of Seeley elevated my hype for this book. In that sense, the foreword works because it doesn’t give away any plot points, but it places this book in the comics panorama. It tells the reader what kind of book they are getting into and why it is exceptional. So now I’ve hyped you about a foreword that will hype you more about the book.
In conclusion, this is a profound and outstanding read. I believe this will be an award-winning book because it defies the comic book comfort zone, experimenting with many styles and genres to great success. It is deep, thought-provoking and, because of the art, it transmits feelings to the reader. While reading it, you may feel happy, sad, weird, even uncomfortable. But that is the whole point, to feel something and reflect upon it. This book may not be for everyone, but I urge you to try it and ponder the question: Would you?