Monday, June 18, 2007

Kafka-esque - oh shut up you wanker.

Steven T. Seagle - writer
Stefano Gaudiano - artist

I had no idea what I was getting into here when I ordered this book from the library. I thought it was the Crumb illustrated biocomic about the writer. But the more I read and the more I read about the book, the more I was thoroughly impressed by it. To read how this comic was up for one of the first Eisner’s against Watchmen is impressive enough but to find out it was by two relative newcomers, if not on their first project (I can’t remember) and being done on a 30 day schedule going straight to printing is almost inconceivable in this day and age of delays, changing creative teams and plain old disappearing books – I’m looking at you Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk or Hulk vs. Wolverine, I can’t remember anymore. I’d say I dropped that book but since there’s nothing to actually drop all I can say is if it ever comes out again I won’t buy it then.

So, what do we have here? Well, a manic black and white comic about espionage and past lives merging into a new reality that skirts the lines with a superhero origin. A man with a new identity is visited by some agents telling him his identity is compromised then is visited by two more agents with the same story. Within a few pages you’re given a setup that throws you into a world where you can’t really trust anything you see yet you feel the desperate need to run towards something but just what you don’t completely know yet.

And some weird and confusing stuff starts to happen. At first you think it’s the improbable comic book disguise stuff, you know Superman puts on glasses and nobody knows who he is, but you later realize that it’s just using the powers of the medium to help with the powers of the protagonist. It’s a fairly straight forward set up and storyline but it works really well here. You’re joining this story more or less at the beginning and while you hit the ground running you learn more about the current predicament as the protagonist does. Very well executed.

Then you get to see it through the art as well. It feels manic and just on the edge of being too rushed, but it doesn’t slip. What you’re given instead is art that is infused with the manic energy of a man trying his best to stay exactly one step ahead of what amounts to a well funded and ruthless organization he wants no part of. He really only has his own wits and is constantly being pursued and each line is infused with his desperation and excited energy. And the black and white art is pretty much what any noir type story calls for so no complaints there.

I’m really glad I stumbled across this book. It just goes to show how much comic book pedigree there is out there that even fans, and especially new/returning ones, just simply don’t know about. I guess that’s why I liked Wimbledon Green so much, but more on that tomorrow.


Jason said...

I didn't even know this existed, I'll have to order it from the library. Gaudiano's work on Gotham Central really impressed me (and I thought he was a newcomer then) so this looks to be a nice little treasure.

joncormier said...

This is well worth your time. It's a bit odd at first but after a few pages I was totally engrossed. The interview at the end, although with an odd layout, it quite interesting as well. You learn about their frantic inexperience that got them through what would today seem to be an impossible production schedule - very old-school comics.