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One Soul

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  595 ratings  ·  118 reviews
From visionary cartoonist Ray Fawkes comes one of the most original and thought-provoking graphic novels of all-time! A unique and poetic narrative, One Soul takes the experiences of 18 individuals and weaves them into the spiritual journey of a lifetime. Gracefully flowing from character to character, moment to moment, Fawkes has crafted a stunning mosaic that takes advan ...more
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published July 20th 2011 by Oni Press
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Average rating 3.85  · 
Rating details
 ·  595 ratings  ·  118 reviews

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Seth T.
Sep 12, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: comics
One Soul by Ray Fawkes

As a rule, I adore experimentation. Even when the ultimate product of one's creative exercise is by most standards a failure, the mere fact of the creator's attempt to forge a virgin path instills their resultant work with something magical. So much of what we encounter in our common experience of the literary world is—despite well-fashioned pretenses otherwise—regurgitated formula. This isn't so much a bad thing as it is merely a description of The Way Things Are. There's a reason Robert McKee'
Aug 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
As much of a chore as it is to read, you can't but be moved by the characters and their harsh destinies. Each story follows a character from conception in the womb to death, the only narration being the character's internal monologue. They have a similar early childhood until something dramatic happens that shapes their path in life toward very different endings. Not all are happy in life and not all die content. Karma plays a big part in some of their stories, but you also have innocents die ou ...more
May 07, 2018 rated it it was ok
This was just an ok read for me. I guess I didn't really 'get' the stories of each of the individuals that we follow, and so it just didn't pull me in or excite me. It was ok, the art was fine, and so overall, there wasn't a lot I loved. 2*s
Emma Sea
Jan 23, 2014 rated it liked it
Cried before I even got to the first page, cried again before I got to the last page.

Nice idea, the text was beautiful, didn't love the art as much.

Also, enjoyed reading it a second time back to front even more than the 'right' way round.
This book is ambitious to the point of insanity. I was on about page 20 when I set it down and said to my wife "I don't think I can read this". No really. I am not capable of reading like this. But the concept was just so fascinating that I couldn't put it down, even though it was a bitch to get through.

18 characters. 18 panels on each page. 18 time periods. So one panel per spread tells the story of an individual character as their stories intertwine. You need to keep them all straight and wit
Apr 01, 2012 rated it did not like it
One Soul is an ambitious failure. If you are unaware, it is 18 concurrent stories told one panel per page. So rather than having a story per chapter (for example) all 18 stories are told every page.

When faced with a gimmick, I ask the obvious question "Would it be interesting if you remove the gimmick?" and the answer is almost always (and is in this case) "no". In fact, I doubt if you re-ordered these into 18 separate stories this graphic novel ever gets published. There just isn't anything be
Nancy Kotkin
Story: 3 stars
Art: 3 stars
Concept: 5 stars

I grappled with this book, and I do mean grappled. It's difficult to evaluate because the reading experience is not what I would consider pleasurable. On the other hand, this is an important addition to the world of graphic literature. I'm not sure I would call it a graphic novel; it reads more like a series of graphic novelettes, each featuring a different protagonist. But the title ties them all together with a concept that makes you think about life,
It took me some time to really get into it. I almost wish I would have read each story individually first and then taken it in as a whole, but by the time I got a hang of the layout, I couldn't bring myself to start over. This is a really interesting concept, though I found it rather bleak overall as the tragedies greatly outweigh the joys. This is understandable reading the author's dedication at the beginning, but too one-sided for my tastes.
George Marshall
Oct 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant, mesmerising and entirely original. It’s the first 3-D comic: not in the red and blue cardboard glasses way, but, intriguingly, in the way that the stories drill their way through the book. And there are constant resonances across the pages between the parallel lives too: in the words (the same thoughts and words) the (themes, violence, anger, love,death) and images.The stark simple black and white graphics mirror each other, often with bilateral symmetry or, from a slight distance, fo ...more
Andy Zeigert
Oct 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Not that I ever created a complete list of my favorite graphic novels of 2011, but if I had, I would revise it now to add Ray Fawkes' ONE SOUL.

I bought this handsome volume sometime in the fall of 2011, and for some reason kept moving it down my To Read list. Not sure why. I think I was intimidated by it. I knew the format was unlike anything I'd read before. Each two-page spread features 18 panels. Each panel tells the story of one person's life. As you read through the book, you follow all 18
Debra Lowman
Jul 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is not a fast read. It is not your typical graphic novel. For Fawkes, it is all about composition. The illustrations are very basic black ink, effective but nothing special. The lives of 18 people from different times and cultures are played out simultaneously on each two page spread, from birth until death. If you take each story separately, and I recommend that you do, I don't think you will find any story that is profound or even particularly engaging. However, it is the whole that makes ...more
Jan 16, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: comics
This is a very different sort of graphic novel. If you try to read it like a normal one, you'll quickly be lost. Each of the 18 panels in every two page spread represent a moment in one of 18 different lives, each (it's implied) being one incarnation of the same soul. The best way, maybe the only way, to read it is to go through the book eighteen times, reading (for example) the top far right panel on every double page, then turning back to the front and starting over in the next panel.

David Schaafsma
Happy Ray Fawkes Day.

Experimental work focused on eighteen people told in eighteen panels on every facing two pages (two 9 panel pages). One theme or motif works its way through all the stories. The concept is interesting and maybe even is hard to criticize something so technically ambitious, but it didn't move me and a book about the soul really intends to do that. The artwork isn't as sharp as I would have liked it. The characterization isn't as sharp as I would like it. The stories seem a lit
Laura Leonard
Feb 20, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: graphic-novel
The artist has divided each page into 9 panels, creating 18 plotlines that carry over from spread to spread. Although this approach is very creative, none of the storylines held my interst.
I tried reading this straight through and it was laborious. I got maybe 20 pages in. Then I decided to try it one story at a time. That's how I would recommend approaching this incredible work: read it twice--the first time by reading each individual's story (yes, one panel to a page, 18 total stories) and the second time straight through. If you stop at any point before this, you will absolutely be disappointed. Is it a lot to ask of the reader? Of course. Climbing a mountain is also hard work ...more
Jun 18, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: comics, indie-comics
This was certainly an interesting comic. It's experimental. It takes a fairly standard 9-panel grid to tell 18 different life stories. Many of the lives have things in common, and there are some similar elements running through several of them. There's happiness and tragedy in each, with some getting more happiness than others. The book explores the human condition. It also explores, quite heavily, questions of faith, questions about whether there's a god, and questions of how connected we all a ...more
Jan 27, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: adult, graphicnovel
The magic of this piece is in the concept. It's not in the skillful drawing (meh), or in the message (I've heard it before), or in the characterizations (meh), or in the language (shrug).
Each spread is filled with 18 (9 on each page) equally-sized panels. Each panel contains a scene from the life of an individual. The figures are in the order that they would have lived in history, and come from diverse backgrounds, places, positions. That probably isn't the most articulate description of this c
Feb 16, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 07-graphic-novel
Okay, so imagine a graphic novel, 9 panels per page. If you open the book up, you'll see 18 panels at any given time. Now imagine that each of those different 18 panels tracks a different person's life, from birth to death. You can read the book normally, one left-to-right panel at a time, and it reads sort of like a poem even though each different panel is a different person's story. But you could also pick one specific panel and follow one person's life through all of the pages.

It sounds kind
Emily Rogers
Aug 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
A modern day drug addict lesbian, a Japanese silk maker, a Revolutionary War hero, a priestess of Artemis, a Native American warrior, and thirteen other characters from various time periods and walks of life all begin their lives the same way and share strangely similar emotions although their experiences could not be more different. Fawkes creative use of the 18 panel, two page spread allows for each character to narrate their story using a single frame on each of the two page spreads.

This ver
Sep 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics-gn-manga
Very creative format, can be read through, passing over each individual's unique story intertwined with 17 other story panels on each set of pages. Beautiful and powerful illustrations. The individual stories are very different, but all share a similar overall arc. Single words and short phrases from the individual frames flow and create a narrative collage.
Sep 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully presented work of art. Can I call this graphic poetry? Be prepared to flip back pages frequently to keep up with the various story lines. Moving, thoughtful, and philosophical. I would have preferred the book to end more quietly - he didn't need to spell everything out quite so much - but overall a novel and captivating work.
Jul 16, 2012 rated it liked it
Not quick or easy. Heavy and hopeless.
Jan 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites, english
Three dimensional comics.
du9's review of the work is well written.
Tom Gaetjens
Mar 08, 2017 rated it it was ok
Interesting concept, but ultimately falls short.
Apr 29, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition

Didn't understand the story. Truly disappointed. Nice art but no proper story. Kept waiting for it to get better but it doesn't.
Mar 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I'm guessing that people who don't "get" this book don't seem to understand that it is multi-linear, or understand exactly what "multi-linear" is supposed to mean, or implies here. And I get it -- my first read through was disorienting, and I had no idea what "multi-linear" was supposed to mean. My first thought was that it was like some sort of "choose your own adventure" book, but that would be selling this concept short. I'm extremely glad I gave it multiple read-throughs and really grasped t ...more
Katie Quinn
Jan 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
I read this text for a graphic novel class for school, and I was not disappointed. I usually enjoy experimental texts (even if they are obscure and confusing), and this comic is definitely experimental. The novel follows the lives of eighteen different characters (or more accurately, voices), which is accomplished through nine panels on the left page and nine panels on the right page. Specifically, if you want to follow the storyline for the same character in a straightforward, linear fashion, y ...more
May 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
One Soul is a transformative experience that pushes the boundaries of what comics and even art can be. It is completely unlike any other piece of fiction, performance art, or comics and stands as an achievement in existential mediations on life and death.

Ray Fawkes unloads a masterwork that takes a rigid structure and makes it profound. The comic is created, on the face, plainly but expands it's restraints until it is bursting. The trials of 18 individuals from their birth until death are in a
Feb 10, 2020 rated it liked it
Hmmm. Well, this is a fascinating experiment, to be sure: eighteen lives unfolding simultaneously, across two nine-panel grid pages, one panel per person per two-page spread, always in the same grid spot. The approach challenges one's expectations about how reading comics narratives work; the usual narrative continuity is completely disrupted. To read as one normally does, one reads eighteen fragments per spread. To read each individual life story, one would have to go through the book eighteen ...more
Jun 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Very interesting concept with an excellent form-function setup, taking the affordances of the graphic novel medium and running boldly with it. I love the multi-readability of it, but other than going back to the start to read (very minor spoilers ahead) the black boxes in sequence after getting to the end, I don't feel much actual desire to go through to read each, or even one, of the 18 stories. It was quite nice to read them all a-jumble, though, even though the glimpses are often so brief tha ...more
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Ray Fawkes is the critically-acclaimed author of the comics and graphic novels Underwinter, Intersect, One Soul, The People Inside, The Spectral Engine, Possessions, and Junction True, as well as Batman: Eternal, Constantine, Justice League Dark, and Gotham by Midnight (DC), Wolverines (Marvel), Black Hammer '45 (Dark Horse), Jackpot! (AfterShock) and more. He is an Eisner, Harvey, and Shuster awa ...more

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