White Sand Volume 2 is, like most graphic works, a team effort: the story is by Brandon Sanderson, the script by Rik Hoskin, the art from Julius Gopez and Julius Otha, the coloring by Morgan Hickman and Salvatore Aila Studios, and the lettering by DC Hopkins. Unfortunately, in my case, quantity did not equal a quality experience.
One problem is I’m not sure Sanderson’s storytelling translates well into the graphic form. Though there are certainly exceptions (The Rithmatist for one excellent example), his works tend to be sprawling, long, dense, introspective, and highly political, none of which really screams out for a graphic treatment. In this particular case, White Sand can be quite wordy, so that too much has to get crammed in to small panels, too much gets explained in somewhat flat fashion, and the self-narration during action scenes feels forced and stilted. And, as is I admit often the case for me with graphic novels, the characterization feels thin, so that I can’t say I really cared much about what happened to anyone here. The structure too feels disjointed, with the main character shifting from interview to interview trying to gain support for his goal of saving the Diem, with the interviews interrupted by the occasional assassination attempt (handled too easily).
The art didn’t help. To be honest, I’m not sure if the fuzzy nature of most the artwork is a relic of a bad ARC on my Kindle or purposeful, but it was often muddy and ill-defined, and especially marred the action scenes so that it was difficult to tell what was happening. And the plethora of small panels on each page contributed to the issue. The artist did change toward the end, and those panels were definitely much more defined and clearer, though I can’t say the art itself did much for me.
I’m a fan of most of Sanderson’s work; he is I think an excellent storyteller if not a stylist, but here the form seems to constrain his talent, or even work against it, leading to an end result that I just can’t recommend.