XYR (1988) by Stuart Hopen, Ben Dunn, Frank Giacoia, Jim Mooney et al.
“The World’s 1st Multiple Ending Comic!” That can’t possible be true, can it? I remember choose-your-own-adventure comics from my childhood. Might be fake, artificially-implanted memories!
I always found those comics to be a bore, because they usually just had a bunch of endings that cut the story short, and you’d have to go back and find the “real” story. However, this isn’t quite like that: We’re instructed to either follow the instructions (as you would in a normal choose-your-own-adventure comic) or just read the pages in numerical order.
So that means that the pages are constructed so that they can be read in different orders, which made me perk up. Had Hopen come up with something new and fabulous?
But the first thing that strikes you about the book is just how weird it is. We see a guy looking at a picture of his wife… and then the next panel zooms in on her crotch. I mean hands. Is that a clue about anything? What’s that thing in the background? WHAT?
So I was wondering whether that would mean something if you read the pages in opposite direction or something, but this was a page at the start not included in any other directional readings.
Because, yes, several of the pages are meant to be read in a third way (in addition to following the directions and the straight numerical reading): “Read pages 16, 17, 36 and 37, in that order. Ignoring all other directions.”
So how does Hopen pull this off? By having many pages be extremely vague with nothing of interest happening; just Our Hero musing about life, death, magic, and navel lint. I think.
So it’s less of a storytelling feat than you might surmise. Still, it’s more fun than the traditional multiple ending comics.
None of the reading orders made me understand what that guy’s beef was.
And, yes, there’s one reading that makes you end up in an infinite loop, as there should be.
So, it’s much better read than I guessed it would be, but it’s still not exactly… essential…
Oh! I knew I knew that name! Stuart Hopen is the guy who wrote that rather good The Wandering Stars book that Sam Kieth drew an issue of before scampering off.