Pullbox Reviews: The Bridgebuilder’s Creed – Never too old to learn & grow…

As ten of the brightest minds in the land, the Bridgebuilders of Terraquill travel from province to province, crafting infrastructure where it’s needed most. Life was good.

But then there was war.

Bryatt “Yodel” Yodleson, TerraQuill’s last remaining Bridgebuilder, finds himself alone in a land he helped shape. And day by day, that shape is becoming harder to recognize. When an odd creature brings with it prospects of a bright new future for TerraQuill, Yodel finds himself trapped in the shade of his past. Can he reconstruct his life and find purpose in a world that’s moved on without him?

Or will he learn that some bridges can’t be rebuilt? 

Across a basin, beck or brook, a passage will we draft.

Above all fractured Terraquill, a way for you we craft.

Dependable and straonger still, a craft o’ mind and hand,

Across it waits for you the new

A Bridge for all the land.

These are the words around which Yodel has built his life, the creed of his craft and that of his friends. The Bridgebuilders. More than just carpenters, engineers, or architects, these dedicated crafters united a land separated by distance, broken by conflict. And in that conflict, Yodel’s extended family is lost. Can he continue to follow the Creed, adhering to what has always been the building block of his core beliefs? Or will Yodel be forced to bend, to make room for new methods, new ideas that could go farther to mend the broken land?

I can’t imagine many books coming down the pipe that are at all like The Bridgebuilder’s Creed. This is the story that artist Shawn Daley kept coming back to when he was in between other projects (Samurai Grandpa, Ogre). With Daley not only handling the art duties, but also putting his own words to the pictures in this wholly original comic, he’s put together the kind of labor of love that readers should be able to appreciate on multiple levels.

I’ve got to say that this is one of the most complex, layered stories I’ve seen in a while. On its surface, Bridgebuiler is the story of Yodel’s struggle to balance tradition, ideals he’s built his life around, with the necessity of progress. Go a little deeper and you’ll find a story of Yodel’s own guilt and regret over surviving where his friends did not. Finally there’s the story of Yodel’s grief over the loss of his wife, still going strong years after she’d passed. Through it all, Daley has invested the book with the tone of a fable, leaning into fantastical creatures & places over the course of Yodel’s travels. While the themes of loss, denial, & growth in The Bridgebuiler’s Creed are on the more serious side, it’s that fairy tale attitude that keeps the whole thing from getting too heavy.

Before I ever knew the guy could write, I was a fan of Shawn Daley’s art. His work on Samurai Grandpa was what grabbed my attention before I knew what it was about. Keeping to that theme, Bridgebuilder’s look upholds the mythic world of Terraquill that Daley has created. His use of ink washes & watercolors goes a long way toward carrying the feel of fable & legend. The style gives the environments an ethereal quality, an especially effective way to present this fantasy world.

Populating that world, Daley’s character designs float in the sweet spot where comics can be dynamic & imaginative. Daley has a great gift in that he doesn’t need the normal comic book hero, strong and in their prime, to push a story forward. First in Samurai Grandpa, & now here, he’s able to invest his elderly characters with so much grit and determination that a reader can’t help but cheer them on. Yodel is committed to his journey, and we can’t help but admire him. But when that single-mindedness carries him over into pure obstinance we just want to pop him on the back of the head to get him him moving.

The Bridgebuilder’s Creed is a journey of discovery where the most valuable lesson is realizing that the learning never stops. It’s a parable illustrating that necessity & progress don’t have to negate tradition, but that the two can build off of each other. And it’s story of growth where the biggest obstacle is being unable, or unwilling, to forgive oneself.

As of the writing of this article, Shawn Daley’s Kickstarter campaign has better than doubled its goal, and still has more than 20 days to go. Readers who want to dive into a graphic novel with a little more meat on its bones- this one comes in at 170 pages- should be assured that The Bridgebuilder’s Creed can provide something to work with.

Final Score: a rare but heartfelt 13/13

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