Nightschool: The Weirn Books by Svetlana Chmakova
Series: Nightschool: The Weirn Books, Vol. 1
Published: 2009 by Yen Press
Genre(s): Graphic Novel, Fantasy, Young Adult
Nightschool: The Weirn Books isn’t my first series from Russian comic creator Svetlana Chmakova—and I find it delightful that the first volume to this one is all that I’ve hoped for and more.
As a long-time manga reader, I found this comic volume perfectly-paced (everything happened in one night). The transitions from one point of view to another was smooth, and despite some character speech inconsistencies, the script was both lean, sufficient and entertaining. There isn’t any real filler added to lengthen the volume—no waste of pages, which is great because I wouldn’t want to spend three volumes reading what could’ve happened in one.
Also, the art is neat and crisp, and the humor? Certainly the one I love and have long associated with Chmakova’s works! Furthermore, the typography is near-perfect here. Different fonts for different dialogue types, narration, and SFXs, and different styles applied so that the words fit the ‘mood’ of the panel as well. Though, I did notice that some of the dialogue aren’t well centred in their bubbles, but I guess I can give that a pass because perfect centring isn’t simple.
As for the plot, world-building, and characterizations, some reviews have complained about the ‘lack’ of it, but I have to point out that this is obviously only the first volume of an arc. Not everything is immediately revealed, not everything is built up within the span of one book like in fiction novels. Really, plot, world and character development happen differently in graphic novels and regular novels. For one, graphic novels have the added visual element, whereas regular novels rely solely on words (and possibly some odd handfuls of illustrations). For two, go read a bunch of manga series and see if the mangaka actually does proper plot and character development within a chapter (I don’t say volume because the general manga chapter has about 30-50 pages and the general volume has 5-7 chapters). A lot of them don’t because not dumping everything within the first 200 pages (4 chapters, give or take), will allow them to have more chapters and more chapters means more chances of developments and twists, and also more possibilities of luring new readers towards an ongoing series. Not dumping everything within the first 200 pages also ensures that the reader will be able to learn about the fictional world and everything else alongside with the characters. To paint my point a little clearer, look at Naruto. It took 72 volumes (700 chapters) to finish, and it has an ongoing sequel. Itachi’s whole plan wasn’t immediately revealed, the Akatsuki didn’t immediately appear, and did Naruto instantly know that he has the Kyuubi within him? No. Instead, we learn about everything, the roots underneath the Leaf Village, the pests hiding in the shadows, the master puppeteer pulling strings as the story progressed, alongside with the characters. This situation is the same with Ao Haru Ride where Futaba doesn’t have an instant reconciliation with Kou. They don’t immediately date each other now that they are inside each other’s lives again, and there’s certainly many obstacles that stand in between their romance and as the chapters add up, we learn more and more.
All in all, Volume One of Nightschool: The Weirn Books is a lovely beginning to a series. There is only four volumes to the presently available Weirn arc but of course, I have my fingers crossed for the next arc already being a work in progress.