Meanwhile: Pick Any Path 3,856 Story Possibilities

by Jason Shiga

Amulet Books, 2010.

80 pages, hardcover.

Chocolate or Vanilla? This simple choice is all it takes to get started with Meanwhile, the wildly inventive creation of comics mastermind Jason Shiga, of whom Scott McCloud said “Crazy + Genius = Shiga.”

Jimmy, whose every move is under your control, finds himself in a mad scientists lab, where he’s given a choice between three amazing objects: a mind-reading device, a time-travel machine, or the Killitron 3000 (which is as ominous as it sounds). Down each of these paths there are puzzles, mysterious clues, and shocking revelations. Its up to the reader to lead Jimmy to success or disaster.

Meanwhile is a wholly original story of invention, discovery, and saving the world, told through a system of tabs that take you forward, backward, upside down, and right side up again. Each read creates a new adventure! ~publisher’s comments

Here is a way to spend your Saturday. A choose-your-own adventure Comic that will have you addicted to discovering its possible outcomes. Yep, we were almost late for work/school this week following lines across pages. Natalya spent some times deciphering codes and choices that finally led to a “Happy Ending.” We lost count how many “disasters” we incurred along the way. I really want to find a way to that page with the giant Squid before we have to return it to the library.

The artwork has greater detail than first noted, and is highly accessible. The colors—a bit much at times, but the fun and the imagination saturating Meanwhile forgives all. It is marvelously done.  “And how was it done?” was a question we asked while reading it.  I found an answer on Kevin Hodgson’s post for “The Graphic Classroom:”

You have to look for it, but there is a note on the index page in which Shiga explains how the book evolved from seven detailed flowcharts, which were later fed into a computer program to help come up with a layout for a book format.

Another thing I appreciated. The pages are not paper-surface. They are plasticky, wipe-able, sustainable. You have to use your fingers to trace the paths. There are tangled laces (maze) pathways to follow among other things.

This is a Science Fiction adventure, theories of the scientific sort abound, and their outcomes are as fairly limitless as the imagination; and yet there are still consequences… Choosing a multiple-path story device and pairing it with Memory, Time Travel, and Doomsday devices is a brilliant gesture.

Meanwhile is a lot of fun. It is creative and inspiring and will have you choosing a life other than the vanilla every time.


two great reviews:

For a good detailed review: The aforementioned Hodgson post is the best review on this book.

For the review that had me seeking out Meanwhile: Ms. Dillon at “Welcome to My Tweendom” has a really good post, too.

check out these reviews and check out Jason Shiga’s Meanwhile.

Meanwhile’s website.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. On a whim I picked this up, just for a fun choose-your-own style, quick adventure. Wow. I, along with the rest of the world, ended up dead on my first foray, but the journey was fun and laugh-inducing along the way.

    Thanks for the recommendation.

    1. L says:

      yeah, I appreciated that the path to destruction was so amusing. I had the same result first go.

thoughts? would love to hear them...

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