This is not a review of “Upgrade Soul”. I just discovered this comic the other day and I’m only partway through reading it so to review it would be unfair.
This is a heads-up about a graphic novel I have discovered.
“Upgrade Soul” is such a fascinating concept that I couldn’t hold off mentioning it.
It is a comic, written and drawn by Ezra Claytan Daniels, where the basic premise will be familiar to anyone who saw the Paul Rudd vehicle series, “Living with Yourself”. In the comic, an elderly couple goes in for an experimental and off-the-record procedure to rejuvenate themselves physically and mentally. However, when they come to, they learn that the procedure was halted part-way through and that instead of rejuvenating their existing bodies, the procedure is actually designed to slowly destroy their old bodies, while gradually creating an improved copy of it with all their memories intact. With the procedure halted unexpectedly, there are now two versions of them: the old and partially depleted versions of them – now physically and mentally weaker than they had been, and a new version of them that are essentially adult-sized foetuses, with superior strength and mental prowess.
Like I said, I am only part of the way through reading it and the story is engaging and feels sure to be heartbreaking. But it is the format that has really grabbed me.
The pic above links to the “Upgrade Soul” print comic on Amazon and from what I’ve read the story and artwork alone is worth the purchase.
However, I am reading it as an app.
The App is King.
In the app, the panels are revealed dynamically, one at a time, most with parallax depth effects so as you tilt the phone, elements move subtly in a way that conveys depth. It is surprisingly immersive.
But even more immersive is that this comic has a specially commissioned score written by Alexis Gideon. It’s a tense, atmospheric score and as you progress through the panels, the music changes organically in time with your progression. At certain points, sound effects illustrated visually using standard comic book sound effects, are reinforced by subtle cues in the score too. It’s like a film’s soundtrack… in a comic! It may not sound like much of a revolutionary idea, but the immersion it creates is wonderful!
I urge you to check this out if you can. It’s an experience I’ve never had before from a comic and one I would like to see more of.
As far as I know, the app is only available on iOS, but I may be wrong about that.
I’ve mentioned before how I would be interested in trying to incorporate music into my Robert Smalls graphic novel and one of the ways I thought of to try to make that happen. Having seen this comic, developed using the Panoply software, I’m intrigued about whether this sort of technology, with its split-screen layouts, panel transitions, parallax effects, and audio capabilities might be something I could use in my own graphic novel.
I can’t make any promises yet: one step at a time and first I have to get the novel drawn, but it’s something I’m definitely going to be holding in my mind…
Unsung Superheroes is an ongoing project, creating graphic novels based on the stories of real-life historical figures whose stories may not be as well-known as they could be.
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