SPX Pulls: The Three Paradoxes, Paul Hornschemeier / by Alex Jarvis

Hornschemeier, in the preface to The Three Paradoxes, includes a quote from a scholar we can all appreciate, Bullwinkle J. Moose:
”If you can’t believe what you read in the comic books, what can you believe?” This is a response to questioning the truth of the volume. For as much fantasy that exists in this book, despite the tangents, this book is astonishingly honest.

The book embraces Paul, who has a magic pencil... or is it Paul, the cartoonist facing a mental block? Paul Hornschemeier uses the medium of cartooning here as the message he is sending, as each new chapter in the book references different cartoon styles and axioms. Be it Paul (the character) creation of Paul (the character’s creation) or Paul (the character’s cartoonish memories of his youth) or the philosopher Zeno (curveball!), the transition between the scenes make sense within the larger point of the story. Zeno is most famously known for his paradoxes--hence, the title--regarding motion and change. In a story that recalls a man visiting his parents' home before meeting a girl he’s been speaking to... it is no accident.

The skill of Hornschemeier is abundant on these pages, as he effortlessly transitions from style to style. Despite that, each style fits within the story; none is so strange that it breaks the reader out of the story. Even when the styles begin to flow without formal break into the primary storyline, it all makes sense. The theme is so consistent across the book, I began to stop noticing the art shifts. They work so well together in combination.

I almost thought that Three Paradoxes was a too introspective, but in re-reading it my navel-gazing fears were put to bed. The quiet moments in this story are the loudest, punctuated by stillness and silence across it. The book gets a lot of information packed into it’s relatively smaller frame. The book’s presentation is similarly phenomenal. I am guessing that Hornschemeier had a large say in the look of the book; it’s really solid and uniform.

The entire book is like a rubber-band slowly returning to it’s original form after being stretched. As you try to get from one end to the other, the ideas get thicker, and harder to reach. It’s a little bit like Zeno’s Paradoxes, actually.

I loved it. Well done, Paul.

TL;DR: A decently introspective look into the nature of change and history, Paradoxes uses different styles of art to reinforce a single central theme. Buy it.

The Three Paradoxes is written and drawn by Paul Hornschemeier, printed by Fantagraphics. Check it out there, or on Amazon.