Skin deep : Exchanges

By Kory Bing. 2013. Comic book (graphic novel) in English. Very good read. [160 p.]

Read more: review of book 1, Skin deep : Orientations.

softcover2Summary: “In the warehouse district of a bustling city, through crumbling doors and down a dark hallway, lies the Liverpool Avalon: a centuries-old refuge where shapeshifters rub shoulders with mythic monsters and the occasional magically inclined human. Swing by Greensleeves for a sandwich or a quick hand of Borogove with a friendly Bandersnatch, take in a show at the Underground (assuming Tim hasn’t managed to blow it up), or sift through the magical curiosities at Prestor John’s under the many watchful eyes of Madam U. But watch out–on streets where enchantments are as common as cobblestones, few things are quite as they seem. ”

After a long break, I’m completing the review of the two Skin Deep books I got through Kickstarter. It’s a deluxe edition, which explains the bigger size and a very different cover compared to the previous book. (This is a soft cover edition, but I don’t care when it keeps the thickness from reaching 2 cm 🙂 ). Additional content is available at the end: a map of Liverpool’s Avalon, notes about the story, sketches, a guide about the cast, and a sticker I used as a bookmark because I find it too pretty to be used. :p

As a reminder, Skin Deep is first and foremost an online graphic novel (running since 2006) in English.

Première page du chapitre 3 d'Exchanges

First page of Exchanges, chapter 3

Exchanges is not a Book 1 sequel, more a prequel in three chapters where we see only one known character, Jimothy James Finn (Jim), and discover a bunch of new ones, including the family of our favorite opinicus. Jim is about to leave for his studies in USA and planed a party in his favorite pub, which caused some issues. Other main characters are Blanche and Anthony, but I can’t tell you more without ruining your reading with a big spoiler. 😉 Does it means it’s a lesser story than the Book One storyline? Not at all.

The narrative pace is steady, despite the addition of so many new characters (with some from Wonderland) I might have feared to be lost. Kory Bing masters perfectly transitions between the different scenes, managing to put the same characters in the same places so moving to the next scene is just done by moving the view. Every character has at least some details giving them a real personality to make them more lifelike and it’s not hard to take a liking for one. Humor is also a major element in the story. The art style itself has seen major improvements when comparing with Skin Deep first pages. It is now mostly stable and it’s you can clearly notice the author’s personal style in the line art. (The only real downside are feelings displayed by characters may need more diversity).

As for bonuses, I think they are better ordered here than in Book One. They are still a useful complement to the story.

This second Skin Deep book, another introductory book for another story, book and characters, could make you fear a drop in quality, but the author succeeded in making it even easier to read. Even better, the story universe appear even richer than the summary suggests. You’ll find unique and endearing characters with a story more catching than the change after the first book may make it look. In short, I really recommend you to read the story and buy the book to support the artist (and to save your eyesight by not reading on a screen 😉 ).

As usual, you can find the original version (read: without extra proofreading and additional content) on her website.

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