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May 21, 2008


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Isaac Cates

How ARE you supposed to read that two-page spread? All the way across the top tier, then back to the first page to snake around? Wow, that Maggots looks like one challenging read.

Brian Nicholson

You read the spread up the first page, from the bottom right corner, back and forth, until crossing at the top tier and reading back and forth on your way down the page.

Did reading other people's reviews help you read it, and did you just not talk about it for fear of quoting them? I think Jog and Tom Spurgeon did good reviews.

That said, I am sort of disappointed at the fact that it doesn't seem like a perfect reproduction of the book, losing lots of gutters- apparently Chippendale told his publishers to blow it up a little, so there was no white space on the page borders, but there's definitely moments where things are lost- i.e. the lettering on the last page of the book.

I started off thinking it failed in comparison to Ninja, but now I think that they both have such different strengths -- the emphasis on movement in Maggots, and the spreads are gorgeous. Ninja is more plot-oriented and easier to follow, but... There's certain moments in Maggots that are pretty easy to follow, and those moments are just completely thrilling for the way they depict motion. I think Ninja is interesting for the way it becomes easier to read as it goes on, as Chippendale progresses as a cartoonist and eases up on the making tons of marks on the ground and the sky both, but Maggots, due to never attempting backgrounds, doesn't encounter those problems.


"A lot of the time I spent with Maggots went into wondering about whether I was reading its sequences in the correct, or maybe I should say optimal, order."

Exactly how my reading went and is going. All these posts have got me rereading Maggots after letting it sit on the "to blog" pile for a long time (that and one of my reader's actually asked to know what I thought of it).

The second time through I'm feeling less... rigid in my reading. I also think I totally misread the instructions the first time through. He says "Down page one, up page two." Which I took as "down the verso, up the recto" based on that little diagram. But I'm having much more success with down the recto, up the verso.

I'm finding it less frustrating this time, a little less.

Brian Nicholson

I don't know what verso means vis a vis recto, but I would like to point out that there are times where a two page spread will end on the inside, or the spine, and that you then continue reading from the spine on the following page, barely moving your eyes as you turn the page. It all depends on the number of tiers per page.


Thanks, Brian, for this latest! It occurs to me that reading MAGGOTS is likely to be a different experience each time, because the ever-changing layout (number of tiers, reading direction, etc.) is likely to confuse even experienced readers a bit each time out, if only momentarily. That is, an experienced reader is likely to be able to reconstruct what s/he sees as the optimal reading order, but only after a moment's befuddlement/readjustment. Given the length and density of MAGGOTS, it seems likely that we'll be befuddled in at least a slightly different way each time. :)

In your earlier comment, you said, "apparently Chippendale told his publishers to blow it up a little, so there was no white space on the page borders." I don't know about this, but, if this is so, then that really adds to the sense of being immersed (beyond possibility of escape, short of simply giving up and closing the book!) in a strange cartoon underworld.

Oddly enough, I didn't see either Spurgeon's or Jog's review of MAGGOTS, though Craig and I certainly consulted Spurge's excellent TCJ overview of Fort Thunder. It doesn't surprise me that both of them reviewed the book, and I'd love to see what they said (I'll go look), but, when it came to MAGGOTS, I think I was initially afraid of looking TOO closely at what other reviewers have said, since the book's been out for a while, etc. I eventually did stumble across a review in the Baltimore CityPaper (Skokna's) that I found useful, but only as I got near the finish line. I guess I was determined to grab my torch and go stumbling through Chippendale's dungeon on my lonesome, at first. :)


PS. Brian, in the book trade verso means the left-hand page, and recto the right-hand page. So, when you're scanning across the gutter between pages you're going from verso (left) to recto (right), and when you're turning over pages, you're going from recto (right) to verso (left). At least in a typical English-language book that reads from left to right.

This reminds me of all those "unflipped" manga translations that read from right to left, the popularity of which makes me think that maybe MAGGOTS has come along at just the right time. :)

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