Writer and Interior designer Henry Chebaane was kind enough to send me a signed review copy of his debut graphic novel The Times Of London which is the first part of The Panharmonion Chronicles trilogy he is creating.
Before diving headlong into a review it might seem odd to see Stephen Baskerville truly stretch his legs beyond the Transformers franchise. He may be known for drawing colourful toys but he is a truly gifted artist. Even with a brief flick through the pages on offer here it is clear attention to detail and storytelling have been carefully observed.
Credit must be granted to the printers of the book itself. Volume One of The Panharmonion Chronicles is a solid well made publication. The book is well made, it has a clear spine, and would sit happily on any bookshelf. I suspect there may be a US format forthcoming, yet there is a cast iron arguement to buy the existing UK edition because it is satisfyingly solid.
The storyline of the book is truly interesting. One of the many things to love about this book is the Star War Style intro page.The passion and attention to detail here cannot be faulted. We have here the story of Alex Campbell and beyond that I'd rather not spoil things except to say it is worth your time indeed! There are hints of The Matrix and a little bit of Sherlock to enjoy, but it is the almost steampunk imagery that makes the project really gel together. Much like Sherlock there is a clear love of London as a location on almost every page. In fact the capital city in question is almost a character on its own.
It would be wildly mean spirited to provide any spoilers, except to say Henry Chebaane has created an excellent concept packed full with colourful characters. There is a world to discover I suspect in the following volumes.
Enormous credit must go to Stephen Baskerville. It is rare to see an artist pencil, ink, colour and letter their own work to such a high standard. A particular highlight is a simple fight scene with an umbrella. The scene in question may only last two pages, and yet it is a masterclass of quality storytelling from an artist truly at the top of their game.
It is also worth mentioning that within the book are some glorious pin ups, a map to help navigate you through the story and even the lyrics to a tune to enjoy on the final page that I hope may appear on YouTube. The tune is titled The Ghosts of Sound, which I understand may be the title of the second volume.
As a bonus there are even photos in the final pages that show some of the inspiration behind some scenes where Chebaane has worked as an interior designer. This extra detail really elevates this book from stellar to interstellar.
I will give this book a solid nine out of ten. I drop one point simply because I want to read more. The cliffhanger leaves me wondering what will happen next.