Tuesday, March 27, 2007

*Cough*Cough* - Excuse me, but I have a point, I think.

Monologues From the Coming Plague
Anders Nilsen
Fantagraphics, 2006.
ISBN: 1560977183 (pbk.)

This is the kind of book that I always think I should love and support but end up not liking. I’m happy to say that I’ve finally found an exception to that pattern in this book. This is the kind of book that I always think I should support and I ended up actually liking it quite a bit.

It’s a simple book that is basically riffing on whatever is in the creator’s mind at the time of creation. It’s a sketch book and a bit of an exercise sheet. I tend to not be the biggest fan of the whole stream of consciousness type of storytelling but this volume worked for me. I guess this volume had a lot of shared characteristics with those remix CDs that double as 45 singles. Instead of just giving us an A-side and a B-side we’re now given an A-Side a B-Side and either a few other songs as well as a lot of remixed versions of the original song. I’m not the expert on electronica, go ask Kevin for a better explination.

What I’m trying to say is that I liked it. I liked it because it was what it was and wasn’t really trying to be more than it was. I usually get the feeling when I read a lot of stream of consciousness indy books that the creator is trying to be arty and deep when they come off as incomprehensible and boring. Not so much here. It’s light, it’s rough, but more than anything it’s actually funny and sometimes poignant.

And the format is completely different from anything I’ve ever come across in comics at this point in my life – although I’m not the most well read in the medium. It looks like a paperback novel with stiffer coloured paper for the first three-quarters and regular white paper for the last part. This delineates two separate sketchbooks but it also makes the reading process unlike any other comic you’re likely to come across. If you want to look smart and catch the eye of that cool looking person working at the local coffee shop but you’re a bit too geeky then this might be your ticket into the art crowd (although you’re more likely to catch the eye of a self-important yuppie in a coffee shop these days).

My particular favourite in this book was the treatise of mediocrity. It kind of struck a bit too close to home but I liked it. There’s examinations of the modern pseudo-intellectual, modern Bhuddism, and a few other found conversations added to comic characters.

It’s not a long read by any stretch of the imagination but it is completely enjoyable and, shockingly, can give you a few things to really think about unlike a lot of the indy comics I have preconceptions of. Hey, they’re not all self-indulgent but I’ve read enough to be wary of them now. I was really happy this wasn’t one of them.

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