Many Panels : Concrete

Earlier this week I wrote about an attempt to translate Paul Chadwick’s comic Concrete to film. That reminded me that early on in the early Concrete run, Chadwick created what is probably one of the ultimate Pages Of Many Panels.

In the story The Great Transatlantic Swim, which first appeared in Concrete #2 (1987), Concrete does an attempt at swimming the Atlantic Ocean as a promotional stunt. Things go not as planned, but then they wouldn’t or you would not have a story.

Early in his narrative, Chadwick includes a page with no less than 150 panels showing Concrete swimming through the night, with the sun only rising in panel 144. The effect is totally different than in the other examples we’ve seen thus far: comedy is very far away here. Chadwick perfectly shows the tediousness and utter boredom (and thus pointlessness) of the feat that his hero is undertaking.

By the same token, it’s as if he is starting to doubt the viability of his subject matter, and wants to get rid of the swimming as soon as possible, just to get to the good part when things go belly up (literally).

Also interesting is that this page is in fact an elongated echo from a similar, much shorter, fragment three pages earlier, showing Concrete swimming during the day. The automatic pilot that Captain Vance refers to may as well be what Chadwick tries to avoid by getting the swimming out of the way for the benefit of the story.

Imagery reprinted from Concrete Vol. 2, “Heights” (Dark Horse Comics, 2005) © Paul Chadwick and Dark Horse Comics. Used for reference purposes.

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