Created by Jennifer Potter
A review by Billy Seguire
The world of a child is limited to what is revealed to them by their parents. Isolated and alone, a paranoid father can produce an anxious child. In Echo’s Rift, Eliot Emory finds himself alone for fifteen years, hidden away in the California Sierras with only books and birds for company. When strange occurrences and a sudden accident separates him from his father, his world becomes bigger than he can possibly imagine.
The mysterious aspects of Echo’s Rift are closely tied to the character of Ethan and what he feels he has to protect Eliot from. When Ethan hands a cashier a one dollar bill and tells her it’s a hundred, you feel as though much more is going on than simple con man trickery. I have my own theories towards where this is leading, but the important part of this is that from Eliot’s perspective, everyone he trusts is lying to him, and his understanding of the world has been shaken by this revelation.
Eliot is a stranger to modern culture but intellectual and yearning to grow. You see the fullness of his heart on display when he tries to take in the one-eyed rabbit that shows up on his doorstep. Then naivety of his soul comes out while thinking he can hide it from his father while all three of them are in the car. He knows about obscure science-fiction concepts and philosophy, but hasn’t even heard of the internet. Adjusting to actually trusting people will only be part of the story for Echo’s Rift, but it’s an angle Potter has covered with some considerable skill. I can’t wait to see it all fall apart.
While the early chapters of Echo’s Rift take place in the isolated, metaphysically wondrous world of Eliot’s A-frame in the woods, the storyline has recently shifted to the ancestral home of Aunt Beatrice. Eliot’s trepidation of revealing himself to others is understandable. These are possibly the first people Eliot has ever talked to outside of his father, and he’s understandably both emotionally guarded around these strangers and naive about what he reveals. His ability to hide anything about himself is fascinating to watch. This unique situation that I hope eventually pays off.
The art of Echo’s Rift shows a fantastic eye for comic form. There’s true talent and ambition in how Potter lays out her pages or organizes panels. That being said, human characters still show signs of struggle in some pages, particularly towards the earlier end of the Echo’s Rift, but I look towards other long running webcomics like Dresden Codak or Questionable Content to see just how much an artist’s style can evolve over time. Jennifer Potter is clearly an artist who pushes herself towards evolving that style. Considering the first page of Echo’s Rift only went live last May, there’s plenty of room for Potter’s characters to grow into something more comparable to her gorgeous backgrounds.
One area where Echo’s Rift consistently deserves praise is in Potter’s use of natural light to add life to scenes throughout her work. The digitally painted backgrounds are gorgeous, and Potter’s strength is in playing with this natural relationship of light and shadow in the landscapes. There’s a grand sense of scale to these landscapes, with Potter intentionally showing off the scale of these locations over grand two-page spreads that show she’s already thinking ahead to a physical publication of the story. Even while publishing one page at a time online, each two-page spread is shown in its entirety to give you the full look and feel of what this work can accomplish.
Check It Out. There’s enough of a mystery within the bones of Echo’s Rift to grab my interest and keep me reading so much that I finished the entirety of its current run in a single afternoon. Jennifer Potter has some incredible ideas for how to make this comic stand out in the long run, and I think there are some surprises in store. The 100th page of Echo’s Rift was also published this week, so if you’re looking for a new webcomic to add to your bookmark list, Echo’s Rift is worth your time.