The Avalon Chronicles vol. 1

The Avalon Chronicles vol. 1: Once in a Blue Moon from Oni Press - $19.99

Every time I think that Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir have exhausted all possible genre options, they come back with something completely different!  It is tough to imagine that the same writing team that created Skinwalker, a gruesome murder mystery comic, also created the light and fun Avalon Chronicles!

THE AVALON CHRONICLES is the story of Aeslin Finn.  When she was a young girl, Aeslin’s parents read to her from a book called the Avalon Chronicles, which told of the kingdom of Avalon, and the adventurous young Dragon Knight who would ride a mighty dragon and protect the kingdom from the wicked Warlord Khrom.  The Dragon Knight fell in love with and married the young Prince, and lived happily ever after.  But one day, just as the story featured the return of the wicked Khrom, Aeslin’s father died, and her mother put an end to fantasies with happy endings, and Aeslin’s vivid fantasy life came crashing down to Earth.

Now, she’s a teenager.  She finds a new volume of the Avalon Chronicles.  And for one moment, she wishes she could revisit the world of Avalon… and finds herself whisked inside the book.  In the very real world of Avalon, she finds that Khrom has taken over, and the Kingdom needs a new Dragon Knight…  They need Aeslin!  They need her to find the last dragon, Blue Moon, and save the day!

Much in the way that The Princess Bride served up action and adventure, but in the language and degree that a young Fred Savage could handle, The Avalon Chronicles feels light, as a young adult graphic novel should.  There is adventure and excitement, but without the blood and terror that often accompanies more adult fare.  As if to highlight this, in the opening scene, the parents choose not to read any more of the book to young Aeslin because there is a depiction of a gruesome death  (or at least that is what the reader is led to believe).   Absent are the dark shadows, the creatures that go bump in the night, and the terrifying creatures that roam the countryside.  In their stead are noble bandits, handsome adversaries, and a dragon that can turn the tide of battle.

DeFilippis and Weir are some of the best when it comes to creating believable interactions between characters.  Aeslin reads like a teenager, and she responds to the crazy situation in which she finds herself in just the way a real teenager might.  Her disbelief is only eclipsed by the disbelief of the other people she talks to.  Because really, who is going to believe that she has traveled through a book from another world?

The characters are just a light as the book. Will the poet and playwright has a carefree attitude that juxtaposes with the abrasive Cassidy, the bandit with a heart of gold.  These two serve as Aeslin’s guide (and by proxy, the reader’s as well) through the world of Avalon.  Their different perspectives and problem solving  approaches help balance each other.

The only place i felt the book was not up to snuff was in the art department.  Art in the Avalon Chronicles is handled by Emma Vieceli.   She employs a fairly standard style that is just not all that memorable.  Her lines all are the same weight, so the characters and backgrounds seem to blend together.  There is some use of ziptones for shading, which reminded me a bit of manga.  With that reminder, I found myself even more aware of how bland the art was.  I wanted something more dynamic, more stylized, and definitely more exciting.  A manga style would have been perfect for this book.

The Avalon Chronicles is intended to be a four volume series.  With strong writing by Defilippis and Weir, I believe that this could be something truly special.  This is clearly a labor of love for them and I cannot wait to read the next volume in this adventure.  Check out The Avalon Chronicles, Vol. 1: Once In A Blue Moon available this month.


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