Recommended Reading: Richard McGuire’s Here

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Richard McGuire’s Here imagines, in the pages of a comic, the same thing that I often have: what happened here, in this spot – our house, our town, the grocery store, the lake, the highway – one hundred years ago, one thousand years ago, one hundred thousand years ago? What did it look like? Who, or what, stood in the same spot as I do now, in the year 2016, on the brink of the year 2017? What did it look like before Europeans set foot on these shores? What did it look like before any humans lived here at all? Who lived here? Fell in love here? Died here?

Looking out from my own window, I often imagine what people have stood in the same spot as I do, looking up into the sky, or down onto the yard which stretches out to a small lake. And it is not only at home that I think this, but at work, or when I travel as well.

I do not believe this to be a terribly common type of thinking – or at least, it does not border on obsession for most people – but regardless, McGuire’s beautiful book, as all one’s favorite books do, feels as if it were written directly for me, personally.

The book takes place viewed from one angle. Often, this view shows us a living room. Sometimes it is painted different colors. A year – 1957, for instance – is set in the top left corner. But then other windows open in the living room. Some of these boxes show us other times, with other people – or maybe the same people, only aged – in the living room. Other boxes show us a forest. Or a view of another house, up to the right, in the distance. Some show Native Americans trading with European colonizers. Some show dinosaurs. Or dancing. Or melting ice cream. Or family disputes.

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McGuire orchestrates these scenes in a way that sometimes seems random, only to have the various random instances begin to line up, to harmonize, in a kind of symphony of time. He has taken brief moments from the years and years of time that have passed here, in this spot, and given them meaning through their mosaic juxtaposition with other, disconnected moments. Divorced from the context of their time, these moments gain force and sublimity when placed alongside other, disconnected images because they establish a kind of fraternity between all these people, and all these slices of time, which are separated by degrees on the linear spectrum of space-time. Looping back and forth between past, present, and future, McGuire demonstrates the connectedness of everything not through some corny anecdote about all these people being related, or all of them remembering everything that has happened in this spot (they surely don’t, as they are attached, like all of, primarily to their own existence) but through the simplicity of shared, finite space which stands in contrast to the infinite march of time.

McGuire illustrates the book to reflect this. The living room is solid, blocks of color and definite lines. But the people who move through it are often fuzzy, not quite defined. And the further into the past we go, the more the people, and the space itself, begin to blur. The space itself (sans living room) becomes a lawn with a scribbled house in the distance. Then, further back, a forest, which becomes murkier and murkier as we are transported further into the past, until it becomes primordial ooze, ill-defined space, but still our space, the space we see when we look into the living room. In the future, the house is gone. Overtaken by the ocean. Then dried out, but unlivable. Then slowly but surely, life emerges again.

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A late foray into the future: where a group of tourists enter the frame, led by a guide who begins to explain some customs of the 21st century – the carrying of wallets and keys, etc. – and then uses a device which gives the onlookers a view of the past, a view not dissimilar from the one McGuire has given us in the pages of his comic. This breaks, somewhat, the spell of the book – as if McGuire is trying to explain the magic of these windows into the past and future. For a moment, the imaginative and metaphysical experience of watching the pages of time flip, seemingly at random, is understood as merely a function of some future device, meant to intrigue bored tourists. But then that window collapses, and the chorus of voices, the painting of rooms, the noise of television and radios, the waves of future seas all come crashing in again overwhelming the tourists (of which we are now one) with the weight of time and the countless lives lived in these brief windows into the past and future.

McGuire’s book is a kind of miracle in that I cannot imagine it taking any other form. He uses the medium of comics to do something only comics can do – utilizing the boxy frames so often associated with comics to stunning effect. It is an elegy and a celebration of time and space and the moments we find together in the madness of the here and now, and the moments that led up to this one, and the infinite moments that will follow our forgetting.

 

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Bedtime Stories That Keep You Awake: On Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

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Welcome to October here at Deja.Revue. If you have not noticed already, I tend to be a fan of the creepy, the weird, and the left-field in comics. So I though October would be a perfect time to indulge those predilections even more than I already have. Horror, as a genre in comics, has always been just off to the side. Less flashy than superheroes, and something of a mutant child of crime comics, the genre has a breadth and depth which is, in my opinion, almost unmatched. I do not hope to cover the whole diverse range of the genre in the coming month, but I do hope to give you a survey of some of my favorite works on page and screen. If you would like to read further, Paste has an excellent list of horror comics you should read. For further reading on the history of horror comics, check out Mike Howlett’s essay in the back of this excellent horror anthology that I will not have the time or space to write about this month. If all goes according to plan, I will have a column each Monday for you, culminating, fittingly, with Halloween at the end of the month. Don’t forget to turn off the lights.

At one point or another in your life it is likely that you have crawled into your bed, or crawled out of it, and thought you heard something. Maybe it was down the hall. Maybe it was on the roof. Or maybe, just maybe, it was under your bed. Your ears begin to ring. Your pupils dilate. You concentrate on the darkness and the silence. Your feet stiffen on the cold floor or your body tightens under the warm covers. You recede into the blankets, blocking out the world – a cotton fortress of your own making. It is absurd. Whatever that something is, it can get through. It will not be fooled by your disguise. It knows you are awake. In fact, it prefers you to be awake. It prefers that you wait in the silence, in the stillness, contemplating your immanent fate.

But there is not anything there. Not really. This absence is the source of terror, for it creates a gaping vacuum which our minds set quickly to populating with all sorts of morbid, grotesque, and devilish boogeymen. For some, this wild speculation, this endless suspension in the realm of horror, can create a kind of high – one you keep chasing. This helps explains the popularity of horror films, but more elementally it explains the enduring tradition of the campfire story, the legend, the myth, of which film is merely one of the most recent modes of delivery.

Enter Emily Carroll’s beguiling graphic novel Through the Woods. Each of its brief, gothic-inflected tales is meant to put you right back in bed, under the covers, afraid to peak over the edge and see the hand reaching out from underneath. It begins much the same way I have begun this article. By remembering the bed, the darkness, and the hand creeping out, Carroll prepares the reader for what is to come and also reminds us why we get into this stuff in the first place: we are all just chasing after that same, perfect moment of childhood fear over and over.

Carroll’s tales are, I think purposefully, transitional ones. They float in that space between childhood and adulthood (the library from which I checked out the book had it filed in the Teen section): evoking nursery rhymes even as they delve into more sinister territory. Because of this, she introduces some twists and turns which, for more seasoned readers, will feel less surprising. However, the collection also drifts towards a more uncertain, unsteady version of horror. The best of the stories (“Our Neighbor’s House,” “His Face All Red”) provide no answers, and in fact, no conclusions at all. The resulting effect runs much closer to one’s core than stories that end on dramatic revelations or twists (I can almost hear the violins exploding at the end of “My Friend Janna”). None of these stories overstays their welcome. They are gothic folktales, moving at a quick clip, lingering just long enough to send a chill down your spine, or to make the hairs on your neck stand at attention.

Though these nightmares are brief, that does not mean they are unmemorable. Carroll’s art is mostly to thank for that. It is bright and blocky. It channels folk art even as it disintegrates its own borders, dripping over the edges of the loosely defined frames. It is much less a traditional comic book than it is a series of narrative paintings whose accompanying text is incorporated as completely and artfully as the characters and settings. Reds and blues are cut through with inky black and shocks of white. Everything is angled like the set of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Imagine that film bursting in mad Technicolor and you will have an idea of what Carroll’s book looks like.

Like that film, Through the Woods suggests that monsters are real, but that they are often found just behind the eyes of the person sitting across from you, or just beneath the surface of the mirror you are staring into. This is how the monsters hide. And this is why we must, in the dark, when we are alone and we hear that sound again, fill the world with ugly daemons waiting just around the corner: because it keeps us from seeing the real and mundane ones.

Covers of the Week: Oct. 5th

Hello Revuers! It’s time for another installment on Covers of the Week. This segment is where I pick my favorite regular cover and variant cover of the week. This week there were many covers I could have picked but in the end I settled on just two. My favorite regular cover and my favorite variant cover. Now, when I choose my favorite covers it doesn’t have to be from a series I’m reading, but rather just my favorite cover in general. Let’s get to it:

 

My favorite regular cover this week is:

Godzilla Rage Across Time #2

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Since the Godzilla franchise moved to IDW, the series has featured a plethora of amazing covers. This new series Godzilla Rage Against Time by writers Chris Mowry and Kahlil Schweitze and artist Tadd Galusha is no exception. This cover by Bob Eggleton features Godzilla eating pillars from mount Olympias. The almost painted quality of the cover is beautiful. It’s really his attention to detail on Godzilla’s skin that makes this cover stand out. The muted color palette adds to the cover. All in all a solid cover by a fantastic artist.

 

My favorite variant cover is:

Jessica Jones #1

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This variant cover by David Aja is for the newest volume of Jessica Jones (was called Alias, but was changed so it wouldn’t be confused with the TV show from the early 2000’s. Also to line up with the Netflix show Jessica Jones). I really love the story this cover tells. You can get a sense of who Jessica Jones is just by studying the cover. The tri-color palette is perfect for the series as it has more of a noir feel to it than most of the other series’ that MArvel is producing. The light splattering of red looks like blood splatters and adds a nice effect.The series its’ self brings back the original creators with writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Michael Gaydos. The first volume was published on Marvel’s MAX imprint. The MAX imprint featured more mature content than Marvel’s main line. While this newest volume of Jessica Jones was more mature than most of Marvel’s current lineup it still was quite toned down from the first volume. I would still recommend picking it up though.

 

Was your favorite cover on the list? If not tell me what your favorite of the week was in the comment section below!

New Comic Book Day Top 5: October 5th

Hello Revuers! It’s time for another edition of #NCBD Top 5! This week represents a very special week for me as it’s my birthday! Not only that, but this week sees a ton of fantastic comics drop, including the start of several series. Marvel starts their NOW! initiative (again?), and we see new series’ from Black Mask and Aftershock comics as well. So without any further delay let’s jump right in!

 

5: Jessica Jones #1

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Following the success of Jessica Jones on Netflix, Marvel has decided to relaunch Jessica with her own series again. Bringing back original creators Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos. As an added bonus they have David Mack back on covers (Though not the one featured above, that’s a variant cover by David Aja). I enjoyed the Netflix series and I am excited for this rebirth and interested in Jessica Jones. The old volume of Jessica Jones was released on the MAX imprint of Marvel which featured more mature content. This imprint no longer exists, so it’s safe to assume this volume with have much tamer content. Though I’m sure they will push the envelope when possible.

 

4: Moonshine #1

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Monnshine is a new series from Image comics, featuring the creative talents of Brian Azzarello and  Eduardo Risso. The series is set in the U.S during the time of prohibition. It centers around a group of gangsters from New York trying to embargo illegal alcohol from Virginia back to NYC. But, there is a twist. There’s always a twist. I don’t know very much about this title other than the premise and that is enough to make me want to purchase it. Add in it’s from the creative talent behind 100 Bullets, and I’m sold.

 

3: Shipwreck #1

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Shipwreck is the latest title to come out of Aftershock Comics. Having already scored some major talent for their other titles, they now bring in Warren Ellis on writing duties and the wonderful Phil Hester on art. The synopsis of the story is that the main character is a survivor of a “mysterious” shipwreck. The catch is he can’t remember what happened and he seems to be stuck on a road that never ends, with a companion that may not have his best interest in mind. The creative team is top notch, Warren Ellis is one of my favorite writers since his stints on Moon Knight and Trees. Phil Hester’s art is always phenomenal on any book that he contributes to. Aftershock has been bringing it lately, and this series appears to be another win for them.

 

2: Justice League #6

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DC Comics has seen a revitalization since Rebirth that is nothing short of astounding. Their sales are up and their stories are better. Even at the frantic shipping twice monthly pace they are on. Justice League by Bryan Hitch, Tony S. Daniel and for this issue on art Matthew Clark has been no exception. The story telling of the first arc was fast paced and intriguing. The art by Tony S. Daniel was some of the finest of his storied career. Issue 6 sees the start of a new arc titles “State of Fear” in which it looks like the Justice League will have to face their fears…..starting with Jessica Cruz. Every week when I see this on my pull list my heart starts beating faster as I know it’s going to be incredible. The connecting variants by Yanick Paquette have been astounding and fun to collect as well.

 

1: Black #1

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Coming from Black Mask Studios, the company not afraid of anything, comes Black #1. Black #1 is set in a world where only black people have super powers. After being shot by the police, a young man learns a secret about himself and his community. The creative team on this book includes Kwanza Osajyefo, Jamal Igle, Tim Smith 3 and Khary Randolph. With our reality teaming with political, racial and violent unrest this could be the comic that creates real change. It will definitely be the comic that asks hard questions. I can’t wait to read it and see what it makes me question about myself.

 

So there you have it! Did your most anticipated books make the cut? Tell us in the comments below. We would also love to see you list of most anticipated comics!

 

-Andrew

 

Advanced Review: Monty The Dinosaur #2

Monty The Dinosaur #2

Writer: Bob Frantz

Art: Jean Franco

Publisher: Action Lab Entertainment

Release Date: 09/28/2016

Monty the Dinosaur from writer Bob Frantz  and artist Jean Franco is the story of a lone surviving Dinosaur in the 21st century who is dying to make a friend. Only problem, everyone’s afraid of him. Until he meets Sophie, an adventurous young girl who is not scared one bit by the friendly dinosaur. With new friend Sophie, Monty isn’t alone anymore. Issue one is broken up into two short stories. First, how Monty met Sophie and in the second story Monty and Sophie attend a birthday party together (and there’s cupcakes!). Issue two follows that same pattern with two short stories entitled School and Bananas.

In the story “School” Monty learns of a place that human children go to called School. Monty is pretty intrigued and then Sophie informs him that there is chocolate milk and Monty declares he has to go. What follows is a set of hilarious antics aimed at getting Monty enrolled in school (all for that chocolate milk, I’m sure).

The second short story is called “Bananas”. This story focuses on Monty and Sophie’s quest for, you guessed it, bananas! The duo is dismayed to find that they are all out of bananas at their home so they head to the local grocery store to buy some only to find they are out as well. So where do they go next to find their food of choice? Well, you’ll just have to buy the issue to find out. Make sure to ask for Monty The Dinosaur at your local comic shop.

Bob Frantz does an excellent job in this series of creating a character that is both funny to children and adults. Often times in series that are aimed at all ages, they either have main characters that appeal to children, or they have main characters that appeal to adults. Frantz has given us a character that excels at doing both. Monty the Dinosaur is layered in such a way that children can understand the jokes, like when Monty can’t do things because of his short arms. But also adults can read into it a bit further, like how it’s sort of a commentary on belonging in a society when you’re a bit  different than the norm. The art by Jean Franco is excellent. The character design for Monty is great, making a dinosaur that is as cute as Monty is is a feat in and of itself. I love the layouts and the structure the Franco uses. It adds another dimension to the story telling. The color choices by Franco bring a bright and vibrant palette sure to please children and adults a like.

All in all Monty the Dinosaur #2 is a fun all ages romp that is sure to delight the entire family. If you don’t have this series on your pull list then you better hurry and add it. You can order the trade due out in November here. Be sure to follow Bob Frantz on twitter for updates. You can get more news about Monty the Dinosaur and Action Lab’s other offerings here. Also, make sure to demand Monty the Dinosaur at your local comic shop.

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New Comic book Day Top 5: Sept 21st

Hello Revuers! Another great comic book day is upon us! Which means it’s time to take a look at my top 5 most anticipated comic coming out tomorrow. This week there was, once again, some stiff competition. But in the end there could be only 1…..er I mean 5! Tell me what you think of my picks in the comment section below, and let me know what’s on your pull list or what you are most looking forward to.

 

5: Horizon #3

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Horizon from Writer Brandon Thomas and artist Juan Gedeon has been a fun and often surprising comic so far. It takes a very common place idea and puts a unique and fresh spin on it. The first two issues were very solid with great world building from Thomas and Gedeon. The third issue has promised to show us our first glimpse at a villain so I am excited for that. If you haven’t had this series on your pull list you may want to rethink your priorities.

 

4: Mighty Thor #11

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This series from the acclaimed team of Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman and Matthew Wilson continues with what is being billed as the Team up no one expected. I have been following Thor since Jane Foster first took over the mantle after the events of Original Sin. Before that I had never been much of a Thor guy as I always found him to be sort of one note. This new Thor is an evolving, relateable character with a ton of nuance. We can thank Jason Aaron for that. This series is one of few that has always been on my pull list for the last two years and it’s looking like it’s place is firmly cemented there.

 

3: Batman #7

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This issue starts a new arc for Tom King and sees a new artist, Riley Rossmo, take over art duties. The title of this arc is called NIGHT OF THE MONSTER MEN, and is a continuing story over all of the Batman titles. I don’t know much about this story arc other than it involves mad science monster. Really though, do I need to know any more than that? I love the writings of Tom King and the art of Riley Rossmo, so you know that I’m in 100%

 

2: Patsy Walker: AKA Hellcat #10

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I have loved this series from the very first issue. Kate Leth, Brittany Williams and Megan Wilson have crafted a world that is so fun to explore each and every month. This issue sees the end of the series’ second arc! It has been an excellent series for the first 9 issues and I expect no different from this issue. I’m excited for the future of the series and saddened by the departure of Megan Wilson (if you would like to read the interview we did with her then click here)

 

1: Wicked & Divine 1831 (one shot)

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I love this series. Thecreative team of Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson and Clayton Cawles can do no wrong in my mind. This issue looks interesting as it i a one shot set in the past. 1831 to be exact. I like the idea of a sort of anthology of the Pantheon, and looking at them in the past. I think that’s an interesting concept. The art in this issue is by Stephanie Hans (Journey Into Mystery, Angela), who I really enjoy. Should be a great issue!

 

So there you have it! Did your most anticipated books make the cut? Tell us in the comments below. We would also love to see you list of most anticipated comics!

 

-Andrew

 

 

 

 

 

Covers of the Week: Sept. 16th

Hello Revuers! It’s time for another installment on Covers of the Week. This segment is where I pick my favorite regular cover and variant cover of the week. This week provided a plethora of choices as great covers abounded. However, I narrowed it down to what I feel are the best covers. Of course art is subjective so if you disagree with me please let me know in the comments below.

 

My favorite cover of the week is:

The Forevers #1

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This cover by Eric Pfeiffer is simply breathtaking. I love the painted appearance of the cover and the color choices are on point. I love the brush work on the waves which make them seem like they are alive and moving. In fact the brush work on the clouds is the same way. It makes the whole cover seem very dynamic and not stagnate. The series written by Curt Pires is about 5 friends who make a black magic pact in order to gain fame. What follows next is a well crafted thriller comic that I recommend you pick up.

 

My favorite variant cover is:

All-Star Batman #2

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This variant cover by Declan Shalvey is very indicative of what happens in this issue. All-Star Batman #2 features Batman and two face on a train fighting multiple villains. This cover has two face and Batman on a train heading through a tunnel with another train in the background carrying other mysterious figures. I love the positioning of Batman in the sky over the train by Shalvey. It  makes Batman seem menacing without seeming evil. I also liked the touch of Two Face’s coins bouncing away from him. Implying that he may be out of luck. The story by Scott Snyder with interiors by John Romita Jr. continues on from issue 1 with Batman and Two Face continuing their cross country trip, with Batman facing death at every turn. If you haven’t been reading this series I strongly recommend you pick it up and start now. It’s not something you want to miss.

 

Was your favorite cover on the list? If not tell me what your favorite of the week was in the comment section below!