It’s not every day you find a dark story that hooks you from the beginning and draws you in deeper and deeper with every turn of the page. And when that story is presented in the visually rich format of a graphic novel, you might find yourself so absorbed in the prose and imagery that everything else around you disappears. It’s as if you are in a dream state from which you may never wake up from.
That is what the new graphic novel R.E.M. by Ryan Colucci is like.
The main character is troubled neuroscientist Michael Letto. He has invented a chair that allows the occupant to experience the same deep sleep one might get over a full night, but in only a few minutes. Mimicking the theories he’s learned studying the yoga nidra and the rhythmic mantra of meditation, Michael draws deep into his own dream state. But his motive isn’t driven by the mere science. Michael borders on madness as he attempts to reconnect with his bipolar girlfriend who had committed suicide.
When the government becomes interested in his research for military purposes and a fanatical religious order trying to become one with God thinks Michael is on the verge of enlightenment, the chair becomes more than an experiment. Even as this nightmare closes in from all directions, Michael continues with is research, driven by love and determination.
The writing of Ryan Colucci combines the technical probabilities of a classic science fiction and the suspenseful mystery familiar to that of the darker noir novel. The reader is provided with just enough detail in R.E.M. study to give the chair invention consideration. But it is through the development of realistic characters in a dark world where Colucci will win over the audience.
R.E.M. does not stop at the story level. The artwork by Zsombor Huszka sets the overall tone and gives the characters depth. At first glimpse, the black and white sketches have an unfinished feel. But as the story moves along, it quickly becomes evident that the harsh rawness enhances the emotion of every pane.
This cohesive story is a welcome change from the traditional graphic novel. Written by Ryan Colucci and illustrated by Zsombor Huszka, R.E.M. takes the reader on a rollercoaster ride through the sinister world of dreams and beyond.
If you’re a fan of graphic novels and comfortable treading that thin line between dreams and nightmares, R.E.M. will fit nicely on your bookshelf.