Here and There
Happy Hanukkah! On this episode of The Comics Alternative, Derek and Andy review three new and exciting titles. First, they look at Richard McGuire’s Here (Pantheon) a project that actually goes back to 1989. A different, black-and-white 6-page version of the comic appeared in the first issue of Raw Vol. 2, Art Spiegelman and Françoise Mouly’s groundbreaking comics anthology that ran from 1980 until 1991. The new book doesn’t include or build directly off of that original comic, but it does use the design and concept as a springboard into the larger, more ambitious project. Everything that takes place in this story — and the guys use the word of “story” loosely, here — is anchored in one physical space, the corner of a room. What McGuire does is to give us a history of that particular space, revealing events that took place in that area over a span of centuries. The “movement” within the narrative is strictly temporal, reaching back into the prehistoric past (the earliest year being 3,000, 500, 000 BCE) and pushing into a speculative future (the year 22,175). McGuire accomplishes this through an arrangement of two-page spreads, inlaid or nested panels, and precise placements of images that, taken together, provide visual and even thematic coherence. Indeed, it seems as if events across time resonate and interact. This is the kind of book that is difficult to appreciate fully outside of the actual reading process, and it’s one that requires diligent and repeated efforts, each of which will be richly rewarded.
After their involved discussion of Here — and the Two Guys spend the better part of this episode on McGuire’s work — Andy and Derek look at two new #1 issues. The first is Wolf Moon, written by Cullen Bunn and with art by Jeremy Haun (Vertigo). This is the first of a 6-issue miniseries based on the werewolf myth. However, Bunn gives his supernatural retelling a unique spin, creating a lycanthrope narrative where physical transformation isn’t the only effects of a full moon. Haun’s art is appropriately dark, ill-defined in places, and violent. There’s a lot of blood in this first issue, and Wolf Moon promises to be a title that isn’t for the squeamish. After that, the guys turn to the new comic from Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine de Landro, Bitch Planet (Image). Both Derek and Andy like this first issue and plan on continuing to read the series, but they nonetheless disagree as to the impact or accomplishments of this inaugural installment. Andy feels that this is a successful #1 that does everything it’s supposed to do. In fact, this may be one of his favorite single issues of the year. However, Derek feels that this is a story that will read better in trade, in that the first issue seemed incomplete and required more story space for effective immersion. There needs to be more there there. What’s more, he felt that Danielle Henderson’s mini-essay at the end of the issue was unnecessary and potentially undermined the impact of the story itself. While Andy felt that this was a useful supplement that helped to set a critical or thematic framework — and it does — Derek sees the essay as an expository exercise that tells (not shows) the reader what the series is all about. Instead, he feels that DeConnick and de Landro’s story should speak for itself, especially in this first issue. (Although Henderson’s essay would make a nice supplement to a future collected edition.) Still, both guys agree that this is an intriguing title that both will continue reading…if not monthly, then in trade.
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