All the Places In-Between by John Cei Douglas

Nothing that exists is static or unchanging. Not the mountains, not the oceans, not time itself. Our mental health is ever changing – a bit like the seasons. All the Places In-Between sees a young woman travel through an ever-changing landscape. At times it is a vista of collapsing ruins, at others there are places of solace and sanctuary.

As she navigates her way through this environment so we travel with her through the pages of the comic. The comic medium is used ingeniously with the character moving between panels as they shift between states and themes. Most pages have a four panel grid and characters break through them, lie on top of them, tear them down or just walk out of them. 

The playful use of space makes the borders of the panel almost seem like a prison, with the characters trying to break out of the constricting spaces they are in. This is tied back to the themes of mental health and the often bruising elements of everyday life.

The book has no dialogue, indeed it is entirely silent, and requires the reader to really focus on the travel and movement of the comic. At times I found this challenging – there is no real narrative flow, more of a drift of flotsam and jetsam of characters through the book. Whilst this does fit in with the theme of someone who feels lost and is working to tie themselves back together, at times I felt I was missing something or indeed that the book was a bit cleverer than I was.

The illustrative style is generally very simple and this works well with the playful use of the panels. The style reminded me somewhat of Steven Appleby with some of the same dreamlike and surreal qualities captured with often plain lines.

All the Places In-Between captures some of the angst of the last year – a year of lockdown and isolation for many that has taken its toll. Friendship, togetherness and solidarity are rightly shown as beacons of hope in this book. Of course comics are another beacon of hope and indeed a means of escape. Perhaps this book will help unlock the prison door for you.

All the Places In-Between is published by Liminal 11

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