Saturday, May 2, 2015

31 Days of Comics: Day 2 – Comic You Recommend to Anybody No Matter What

ROB'S NOTE: May has become the go-to month of the Comic’s Industry (even though National Superhero Day is late April, but whatever… Congress… pshaw).  It is when Marvel drops their big movie of the year.  May also sees the annual Free Comic Book Day celebration take place (this Saturday, so find your local comic book store and head on over).  May also has 31 days of the month so what better way to celebrate the wonderful world of sequential art with the 31 Days of Comics?

Seth Hahne, who runs the blog GoodOkBad, has put together the 31 Days of Comics challenge.  A daily challenge in which you are given a category and you have to fill it with a comic that you think fits it the best.  You’re all on the internet, I shouldn’t have to explain it to you.  For the rest of the month I will be taking this challenge.  It is my hope it encourages others to make and share their own lists either in the comments here or on their own websites.  The sharing not only might turn comic fans on to works they have yet to sample but maybe catch the eye of a few non-comic fans and highlight the diversity of the form. 

Day 2 hits us with the question “A comic you recommend to anybody no matter what” (As always there might be some spoilers)

Written by Matt Fraction
Pencils by Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon
Colors by Cris Peter
Letters by Sean Konot and Dustin Harbin

One can take this prompt in a number of ways.  Most people I’ve seen answer this before have taken the approach of “what comic would you recommend to somebody who doesn’t read comics.”  The answer usually takes the form of a comic whose plot and story deviates from super-hero comics, or is more “mature” in nature.  The idea being that most people who think they don’t like comics do so because they feel the storylines and ideas are best left to kids. 

I think we’ve progressed past that stage in our culture.  Given the amount of movies based on comics and the exposure that graphic novels have in mainstream bookstores and the like I’m pretty sure most people know that comics are not just for kids.  So for this question I wanted to find a comic that a) has an action based story with excitement b) contains mature relationships filled with character development and c) shows the tropes and genre evident in comic books but also highlights the type of things artists and writers can do with the art form itself.

Casanova hits all of those marks.

To describe Casanova in a line or two is impossible.  On one end it is a high concept spy book filled with action, threats to the space-time continuum, and parallel universes.  On the other it is a deeply introspective look at the nature of identity and meaning.  And somewhere in both of those it is a meta-narrative looking at the events and other works that have influenced Matt Fraction throughout his time.  As a spy story it is gripping and compelling and the end of its second volume contains a major twist that I didn’t see coming, but upon re-reading was completely obvious if I knew what to look for.  As a character study it is absolutely fascinating to look not only at how each character develops throughout the story but also how different settings in different universes may have changed what they could be.  As a look at the influences on Matt Fraction’s work it does what the best works of art do; it has made me go out and watch movies, read books, and listen to songs to understand him and his work better.  I never read any Thomas Pynchon books if it isn’t for the ending to Volume 2.
I’m not an artist, nor have I done much study of art and its terms.  That being said one doesn’t need to be an expert to know that both Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon are killing it with their pencils.  They are master storytellers who make it easy to follow the action despite the possible confusion that parallel words can bring to you.

Casanova is by far my favorite book that is currently being published and when completed will be in the running for my personal G.O.A.T.

Buy these books.  Borrow them from friends.  Steal them.  Just don’t tell them I told you to do it if you get caught.

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