What would you be willing to sacrifice to make your dreams come true? Would you give up memories, moments of your past, in order to solidify your future? This very concept is at the heart of Chronophage, a riveting and uniquely horrifying graphic novel by writer Tim Seeley and artist Ilias Kyriazis. Time and the very nature of reality itself are turned upside down and inside out (literally) when a single mother starts hooking up with a mysterious man who might just change her life for the better, but only by changing her own past.
Chloe is a hard-working, single mother whose life has been on-hold since the fateful night her daughter was conceived. When she meets Heath, a one-night stand becomes a chance to finally make time for herself and turn past regrets into opportunities. An argument with her teen daughter Kai leads to the first of many horrific encounters with seemingly supernatural beings, specters of a past she no longer remembers. Chloe soon learns that the life she’s always dreamed of may cost her something more precious than she knows, leading her down a path of heartbreak and sacrifice to uncover the secrets of the mysterious creature known as the Chronophage.
Seeley’s name is synonymous with unconventional horror, and Chronophage is a prime example of his skills as a storyteller. Time is already a terrifying concept to many of us with the limited supply we all have. Seeley takes that fear and cranks it up to 11, weaving a tale that explores time as a construct that exists all at once: the time we spend, the time we waste, moments of joy and regret–it’s all part of an intangible tapestry that informs who we are, who we can be, and who we risk becoming. Chloe is a tragic character who represents so much of the good and bad in all of us, and her journey leads to one fundamental question: Would you sacrifice something from your past to ensure your future, or would you sacrifice your future to maintain the past?
The narrative structure and format of the graphic novel is perfectly suited for this type of story. Missing or blacked-out panels represent lost (or stolen) memories. The art by Ilias Kyriazis is both beautiful and grotesque, the characters and locations believable, yet stylized. The subtle use of colors to convey tone and emotion is handled perfectly. Panels and even entire pages are re-used in clever fashion as Chloe uncovers and examines past events, both seen and unseen. It’s an incredible use of the format and expertly tells the story in a way that only a comic or graphic novel can. The story does feel a bit uneven at times, and certain events seem contradictory, but much of it is in the service of the story, with Seeley keeping certain twists and revelations close to the chest. Enter into this story with an open mind, and you’ll finish it with one that is properly blown.
Humanoids will publish CHRONOPHAGE on February 15, 2022.