So, while this series’ stunning physical beauty is more than enough of a reason on its own to experience and love it, I’m going to free associate for a minute and see if I can’t figure out if there’s any particular message or point of view being expressed by the themes, because there isn’t any that I was able to see on my initial read through. So, the whole thing is very melancholy and introspective, told from the point of view of a mother figure who is attempting to let a son go out into the world on his own. She accidentally sends him to a terrible place to get his life started (an ocean planet, fulfilling his nickname of “Boundless Ocean Boy”, perhaps some sort of comment on his potential). She battles the planet to get him back, fighting a number of clones of him in the process. In the end it’s unclear whether or not Boundless Ocean Boy stays with his protector, who it is probably worth noting is a ruthless space pirate named Emeraldas who destroyed no less than two planets of bad people in these three issues. So yeah, I don’t know if I see a real perspective being delivered, but the whole thing is certainly drenched in emotion. It’s also got that Japanese comic thing, this being an adaptation of an older Japanese comic, where it seems like there’s no plot and all character development, because there’s so much focus on the characters’ origins, emotions and introspection, but then you say something about it like “Emeraldas who destroyed no less than two planets of bad people in these three issues” and you realize a whole lot actually did happen. Still haven’t wrapped my head around the differences in Japanese storytelling, I guess.
Comic book, 2011
This issue picks up the pace a bit from this series’ dreamy opening, which is neither a good thing nor a bad thing. It’s got all the outstanding qualities of its predecessor, and it has one of those ideas in it that’s so good you can’t believe you’ve never seen it before. Can’t give credit to the artist for that though, as this is a cover, or a remake, of a piece of manga from 1979. How close it hems to its source material I do not know. I heard the artist remark that the next issue turned out unexpectedly long which makes me think it can’t be a direct translation, so who knows. I’m reserving my thoughts about the story until the conclusion. Until then, Jesus this thing is pretty.
Comic book, 2011
I think there’s something intrinsic about comics that makes you want to focus on the form and the format. Maybe because it’s the best narrative storytelling medium for getting the most pure vision possible from the work’s creator. This is especially true of Ryan Cecil Smith’s comics. His color choices are lush, his low-fi, hand-made printing methods make his work approachable and tactile and his rendering style is saturated in personality and expression. Even the fucking envelope and receipt he shipped the comic to me in are amazing. This guy is going out of his way to make every aspect of his comics delightful, and it’s paying to huge for his readers. Which is great, because this is a little wisp of a story. Literally three things happen in the space of its 24 pages. Which is appropriate, as it’s based on an older Japanese work, a country famous for sacrificing plot for character.
I’ll say this about Secret Prison: They sure make good choices when deciding which of their contributors to have draw the cover. 2.5
The common wisdom, or perhaps common decency, of “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” is at odds with my goal of having this blog be a comprehensive collection of my thoughts on all of the media I consume. In fact, something feels flat out wrong about publicly saying anything negative about the clearly diligent efforts of the organizers of this anthology. Why? I guess because it’s a truly independent effort attempting to showcase art and artists from their own city. Those two things deserve praise no matter the merit of the work. But looked at in a broader perspective, the work in Secret Prison largely seems to have nothing interesting to say, and much of it is highly derivative of better known, idiosyncratic artists. As with any anthology there are some bright spots (Luke Pearson’s How to Exist For a Day, Simon Gardenfors’ Hobby and you certainly can’t ignore Ben Marra’s hot pink highlighted Lingerie Models, Secret Assassins), and it sure is packaged attractively, but by in large I feel like the anthology’s ambitions outweigh it’s content. 2.5
Just when it looked like R.A.V. was going to settle into some sort of a status quo, it ended the main quest of one of it’s main characters and turned the other into some sort of a sentient indoor stormcloud. R.A.V. is a fun book, but there’s something not so nice hiding just below the surface, like when The Joker said “I’m only laughing on the outside”, and it seems like it might be building. 4
Michaela Zacchilli’s R.A.V.#2+3 is a collection of the first two issues or her badass action comic R.A.V. Drawn in a style so loose and frantic that a first time reader couldn’t be faulted for not only assuming that it doesn’t have a story but that the drawings aren’t completely abstract, R.A.V. requires a bit of attention just to read. Rather than being off-putting, the effect achieved is more of a cognitive dissidence that implies that the proceedings are occurring in an existence outside of our own. It’s kind of like watching a show on the TV from Poltergeist and it’s not so much that the reception is bad but it’s not something humans can totally comprehend. In addition to the visuals being a challenge to work through, the word balloons poke out of characters mouths as if they’re an extension of their esophaguses and their dialogue is labored in a way that implies that it’s a struggle merely forming thoughts in their reality. Behind all these fun mind games is an even more fun story with the kind of stream of consciousness storytelling that strikes a chord you’ve never heard before but sounds completely in tune. What all this madness adds up to for me is a fun read that operates on a level I’ve never explored before. 4