There is a subset of artists that exist that are true minimalists, that believe in the deftest of touches for optimal conveyance. I consider David Marquez to be one of those creators and The Joyners presents a body of work that takes his skills in a different direction to his mainstream comics. With Fitzpatrick colouring in a similar feng shui manner, there is much to enjoy. The book is set in a neoclassical utopia where perfection in the surrounds appears to have been attained, compared to current times in any case. One of the reasons for this is due to the genius of the central character George Joyner, but the cost of this legacy is essentially the premise of this title. The only place to begin reveling in the artwork of Marquez and Fitzpatrick is naturally with the world Joyner has created.
From the outset, the futuristic overtones indulge in very symmetrical and idyllic spaces. The fairground is a perfect circle, sitting atop a tower of perfect circles, surrounded by grid based traffic lanes for flying cars. Even the amusement park is divided into four quadrants and I am amazed there is a place for non-symmetrical roller-coasters. Looking closer at the splash page of the big wheel, the sense of repetition and concentricity almost reassures and brings calmness. It is impressive how parallel both circular struts are as well as the curved spokes emanating from yet another central circle. Even the chair lifts are exactly the same construction and vary in perspective as they rotate. The colouring is muted somewhat perhaps to provide some homogeneity to the humans disrupting the harmony of the metalwork.
The individuals in this comic are very simplistic in appearance with a few characteristic features that make them appear unique. There is a particular feel to the facial appearances such as the shape of the head, large thin eyes and almost non-existent mouths. George has an interesting appearance because he adorns glasses throughout, meaning his expression is depicted via the subtle shades of pink and intricate forehead wrinkles. The lady he is dating is classically attractive with prominent eyes, a thin chin and curvaceous pouting lips. Sonya Joyner’s paramour had a very wide jawline and large head, instantly conjures the dumb jock stereotype. These caricaturist features work extremely well and subtle changes in size and position bring a change in emotion. Not only that but the colours around each aspect of the face give physical depth to changing expressions. Once again the effect is minimal but the emotion comes across instantly. This effect is utilised very successfully when showing lover boy Chris preparing for the Joyner camping trip, with various viewing angles and close ups to emphasize his character through his actions.
The dialogue based scenes and two person conversations are very cinematic in the way they are set. Often a wide torso shot is employed and then the camera/panel zooms closer towards the couple. A facial close up is then used on both parts of the conversation, and works very poignantly as it seems quite deliberate that Ryan keeps the dialogue short. This is clearly not the case for George and his mistress in the opening pages, where multiple strategies are used because they are actually in movement until they sit on the big wheel. There is a specific point to every conversation, whether it is to brings some background to the characters or to deliver a personality trait. The final pages depict this as single panels of two sentence snapshots of dialogue and as you would imagine, they are shown from a distance to soak up the world around them.
The Joyners is deeply insightful of its characters and the events of the comic mean very little, compared to the meaning and hidden meanings of the dialogue. For example George has yet to actually commit adultery but we can insinuate that it is his intention, especially given that it is not for the first time either. Hence the reason why the subtle skin crease changes and colour effects at the cheek bones play beautifully into the conversations of the book. It is very well written in that the dialogue can be painfully tragic but flows simply and coherently, painting a lamentable Joyner family portrait.