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Thursday, October 23, 2008

What I’m Reading Now: Tale of an American Life

I love reading comics. I don’t think that’s a secret. I love them for many different reasons. Sometimes it’s a relaxing getaway; an escape from the stress that life can sometimes bring. Sometimes it’s an intense appreciation for the combination of word and art. And sometimes a book reminds you why you love comics in the first place. That time is now. That book is Local. From the creative team of Brian Wood (DMZ, Northlanders) and Ryan Kelly (New York Four, Lucifer), Local leaves me speechless. Which is an unfortunate side effect for a blogger but I will try my best. My first exposure to Brian Wood came from his first professional work, a five-issue miniseries known as Channel Zero. Both written and drawn by Brian Wood, Channel Zero was an excellent story depicting a future “Great Awakening” in America in which the voice of the citizen is silenced. I fell in love with this book and immediately became a fan of this young and talented writer. Since that first exposure, I have joined Brian Wood in the fight in the DMZ and sailed with Norsemen off Norwegian shores with Northlanders. But Local tops them all. It surprised myself at first. Local, as well as The New York Four, gives a look at another picture of Brian Wood’s story telling and shows how talented he really is. Brian Wood offers the most variety in works, possibly, then anyone else in the industry. In this book we follow the lives of Megan McKeenan, a young woman from Vermont, who travels North America to find her place in life, which ultimately leads back home. Never has a character felt so real and alive to me. I felt as if this could be a real person, that these were real events, that this could very well be someone’s life. And with every great writer, there is a great artist. Ryan Kelly does an absolutely fantastic job on this book. I love that this book was in black and white, such as Channel Zero and Demo, and that aspect made me think back to those stories as well. The series is 12 issues long and is enjoyable all the way through. Each issue is just a small glimpse, a short story, into the life of someone who could easily be a family member or a friend. If you set the last issue aside, and then shuffled the rest of the issues and read them at random, it would be just as an enjoyable experience. Not to say that the story lacks plot, in fact on the contrary, this story has a plot that seems so simple but is actually quite complex. This series is a great read for anyone who loves comics. Also go check out The New York Four (Minx), which is also a great series produced by this creative team. You can also check out episode #36 to see what Rob has to say on the matter. Local will make you fall in love with comics all over again and just as a key is close to Megan’s heart, Local is close to mine.

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