Ambitious sequel to the experimental hit One Soul coming this summer from Ray Fawkes

One Line
(Image credit: Ray Fawkes (Oni Press))

Oni Press has announced it will be publishing a thematic sequel to Ray Fawkes’ hit OGN One Soul titled One Line on July 21, to coincide with a 10th-anniversary edition One Soul coming out later this month.

(Image credit: Ray Fawkes (Oni Press))

"As One Soul followed 18 people from birth until death, showcasing their common joys and pains as well as their unique experiences, the upcoming One Line follows 18 families through four centuries, showing how traditions, ethics, and prejudices are handed down from generation to generation," reads Oni Press' description of One Line. "Some families will interact, some will join together, some will remain alone. Some will persist, and some will die out." 

One Soul was nominated for a 2012 Eisner Award in the 'New Graphic Album' category, largely due to its experimental narrative structure to tell 18 individual stories. 

Newsarama spoke with Fawkes about this new One Line OGN and picking up from where he left off in 2011.

Newsarama: Ray, a lot has changed since One Soul came out - or when you were working on it. How did things start to snap into place for you to be in the mindset to do a sequel here with One Line?

Ray Fawkes

(Image credit: Oni Press)

Ray Fawkes: After One Soul and its exploration of individual lives, I followed it with a book called The People Inside, about love and togetherness (and separation). But there was always one more piece I wanted to create. One more thing I wanted to say in that format - a book about families and their patterns of inheritance - prejudice and expectation, and the struggle of each generation to define itself.

It never left my notes over the years, and I went over it again and again. As the tenth anniversary of One Soul approached, I began to feel that the time was right to set myself to the business of getting it on paper for people to read. I had a few discussions with James Lucas Jones at Oni Press - always one of the strongest supporters of the two earlier volumes - and we talked each other into committing to it. I'm glad we did.

Nrama: You've expanded the storytelling conceit from following 18 people on their individual lives to 18 families and their lives. How have you changed since One Soul, in terms of the family that surrounds you, and how is that impacting One Line?

(Image credit: Ray Fawkes (Oni Press))

Fawkes: I mean, in terms of family - my own family has both grown and split since One Soul. I had a son and I went through a divorce. I've also grown older, as we all have, and see the changes in the world and the changes in myself. I constantly think about the world my children are growing into, and the path I'm helping them layout for themselves. I suppose you can say there's about ten year's worth of those thoughts in One Line.

Have I become softer in my thoughts or darker in my outlook? It depends on the given day. I certainly haven't become any less lost in thought, questions, and fascinations. I think all of that is in the book, too.

I remember that there was a certain contingent who thought One Soul was a particularly sad book, because of all the death in it. There is both more death and more life in One Line, as there has been in my own experience. In all of our experiences.

Nrama: From what Oni Press has shown me, this is more than just One Soul part 2. Is One Line something you think you could've done in 2011, with you you were then versus now?

(Image credit: Ray Fawkes (Oni Press))

Fawkes: No, I really don't think I could have done it back then. Or at least if I had, it would have been something very different. Something more like a simple sequel. Now it's grown into something that tackles an entire other set of ideas - and is, I think, more ambitious with the use of the medium than I would have been then. 

One Soul was praised for telling a story that could only be told in comics. There are avenues of storytelling in One Line that use the unique features of comics in a new way - a way that builds on the approach of One Soul, and then takes a leap sideways and, I'd like to think forwards. I wouldn't have had the confidence or experience to take such a leap ten years ago.

We are all trapped in the patterns woven over centuries, and I think developments in the world in recent years have both brought the cruel reality of those patterns into the light and revealed the incredible strength of a generation that is fighting to defy and reshape them. All that's happened in the last ten years is part of all of us, and inevitably it became part of this book too.

Nrama: Storywise, are any of the 18 families of One Line related to any of the 18 people of One Soul?

(Image credit: Ray Fawkes (Oni Press))

Fawkes: Not directly. Astute readers, though, will see characters in One Line brush up against the ancestors or descendants of those in One Soul - and in one case, be in the same room as one of the actual characters from the earlier volume. I'll leave it to them to search the hints out.

Nrama: For this, you're working with editor Shawna Gore - how has the collaboration been here between writer/artist and editor?

Fawkes: Shawna is one of the most supportive, communicative, and competent editors I've ever had the pleasure to work with. I'm beyond happy working with her, and I'd happily do so again. Every creator should be so lucky as to have someone like her providing professional feedback on their books.

Nrama: Lastly, what excites you about One Line?

(Image credit: Ray Fawkes (Oni Press))

Fawkes: I set myself an even higher bar of ambition than in any of my previous volumes: in terms of both subject matter and approach. Which means that this is a more ambitious undertaking than anything I've ever done before. I'm excited to see how it all played out, from concept to final, and more excited to see how readers respond to it. But more so, I feel lucky - lucky that I can take on subject matter that feels substantial and real to me, important to me, and speak from my heart about it, and present it to the audience of readers. That's a feeling unlike any other.

Nrama: What are your big goals with 2021 and this year of One Line and One Soul?

Fawkes: Goals are funny things, aren't they? I set them, I meet them or I don't, and I set more. The creation of One Line was a goal I'd set years ago, and now it's being realized. Now I want to get these books out to the audience as best I can, and in the meantime, set myself to the task of finding the next big thing I want to say.

One Line will be available June 21 both in stores and in digital formats. Check out Newsarama's list of the best digital comics readers for Android and iOS devices.

Chris Arrant

Chris Arrant covered comic book news for Newsarama from 2003 to 2022 (and as editor/senior editor from 2015 to 2022) and has also written for USA Today, Life, Entertainment Weekly, Publisher's Weekly, Marvel Entertainment, TOKYOPOP, AdHouse Books, Cartoon Brew, Bleeding Cool, Comic Shop News, and CBR. He is the author of the book Modern: Masters Cliff Chiang, co-authored Art of Spider-Man Classic, and contributed to Dark Horse/Bedside Press' anthology Pros and (Comic) Cons. He has acted as a judge for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, the Harvey Awards, and the Stan Lee Awards. Chris is a member of the American Library Association's Graphic Novel & Comics Round Table. (He/him)