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Writer and Artist: Carla Speed McNeil

Finder Sin-Eater, Part One
Issues 1 - 7, With Gallery and Footnotes
168 Pages
ISBN 096736910X
Diamond- STAR10149
$15.95

Finder - Sin Eater Part II
Covers issues 8 through 14,
Plus new nine page story and footnotes
184 pages
Perfect Bound
ISBN 0967369118
Diamond - STAR12392
$19.95

 

 

King of the Cats
Covers Issues 15 through 18
with footnotes
120 pages
ISBN 0967369126
$13.95

“Those mecha-suits aren’t suits; they’re remotely operated robots. First reference to Hayao Miyazaki’s TOTORO. The suits appear only at the perimeter gates of the city or at severe trouble spots.”
--Index Notes for page 8 of Sin Eater

“Hulger, male Nyima. Many folk in Anvard have animal characteristics in some way or another. Most common are “constructs” or living artifacts, genetically constructed servants or sex toys mostly. Least common are survivors of the Fey Plague like Whiskey Jack. Somewhere in the middle are such as the Nyima, the centaurs or halfhorses, the Huldres, and so on. They are often treated with the same casual contempt as the constructs, and are very touchy about it. ‘Nyima” is a phonetic play on ‘Nemea’, as in ‘Neamean Lion’.”

--Index notes for page 17 of Sin Eater

“Blythe’s virtual conscience gives her headaches, but she and others like her are given entirely too much responsibility to have no ethical structure. Everybody gets the ‘one and zero’ joke, right? Goood. DON’T SMOKE IN BED, written by Willard Robinson. Sung by Peggy Lee, one of the sexiest singers of the jazz era (and quite a good actress, at that). Edith Piaf was a sweet canary-voiced French singer, very popular in the 20s and 30s.”

--Index notes for page 88 of Sin Eater

Many people find themselves unable to reflect back to their childhood through what seems to many, a simple purchase. The simple purchase of a book or comic can become difficult as we grow older. Although the finances needed to obtain such things are not great, money seems to be the burdening factor. Money seems to get tighter and tighter as we enter our retirement years. With today's technology, we can simply turn on a computer and read just about anything about finances or even retirement however there is something more invigorating about investing in a book. There are great financial books out there as well dealing with retiring, money and finances. For information about such things or answering questions and how to plan a head, pick up a book an read.

Here are two quick views of Finder, one of the most ambitious science-fiction/fantasy comics--and well deserving of that Eisner Award nomination for Best Continuing Series-- that I have ever read:

One: You know you're reading an ambitious work of fiction when it includes about a dozen pages of footnotes. It takes place sometimes in the future. It seems to be based on Indian culture, but its reality is science-fictional to the core and includes: a landscape of domed and semi-domed cities, a culture where Leon Kass definitely lost and where human/animal "constructs" (The Island of Dr. Moreau come to life. My favorite is the talking raccoon...) abound, genetic tribes, Minority Report-like computer interfaces and holograms holograms holograms. Like the works of Moore, Speigelman and McCloud, Finder is destined to be taught on hip and progressive college campuses everywhere. It's certainly worthy of academic examination.

Two: I got into a conversation with a guy I buy comics from. I asked him about Finder. He's the kind of guy who "sells" comics so you'll see lots of X-Men and Spiderman books out front. You would be lucky to catch a glance at a High Class NBM graphic novel or a Fantagraphics book anywhere in the store. The salesman told me he tried to get into it, but thought it was too hard to read and he put it down. I understood completely.

Both points are true. So there's your dilemma. Carla Speed McNeil has written one of the most ambitious comic epics ever. But be warned: this is demanding stuff. It’s fiction that definitely needs footnotes and I’m not sure if that’s a sign of success or not. What I wish she had done, instead of the footnotes, is gone the Alan Moore route and just end the book with straight prose pieces, e.g. weblog entries, transcripts of news reports, that kind of thing. It would have been a more interesting way to describe the backgrounds.

The story, or at least as much of it that I could make out, is about a kind of Native American detective called a “Finder”. He traverses the Post-Apocalyptic (?) landscape dotted with cities that have varying degrees of purposes, populations and gadgetry. Personally, I enjoyed the fascistic Disney-like city of Vista in “King of the Cats”, the third graphic novel. While I marveled at all the science fiction imagery stuffed throughout—I was completely entertained by the last Stars Wars film for example—I came away with more questions than answers after reading the first three graphic novels in the series. I never had a sense of when this was taking place or how the cities were first built. Were the cities simply an evolutionary outgrowth or was this the result of a world disaster or voluntary space immigration? Are there even nation states? I read about 500 densely packed comic pages—which made up issues 1 through 14, plus additional special issues such as “Mystery Date”—and I couldn’t answer those questions. I sometimes found myself thinking I was reading a very complicated Story Bible for an evolving but never completed Role Playing Game.

It’s almost beyond conventional reviewing. How do you give a thumbs up or thumbs down to Finnegan’s Wake? One way you can judge for yourself is to take a look at the aforementioned index footnotes. They’ll give you a glimpse behind the intelligence, wit and complexity of Ms. McNeil. You get the strong impression that the writer's manic detail would have allowed her to fit in comfortably with the obsessively imaginative yet murderously chatty female duo in the film Heavenly Creatures.

I have to be honest: the comic strikes me more as a great intellectual achievement than as a great work of art. To borrow a strategy from The Reader’s Guide to Periodical Science Fiction, it’s probably more helpful to compare it to something else you know, the only problem is there’s not a lot of American Indian Myth inspired science fiction out there. My hunch: If you enjoy the science-fiction comics of Elaine Lee—probably the most talented woman to ever write science fiction comics—then you’ll like Finder. If you liked Lee's very complicated but fulfilling Starstruck or what I thought was her best work The Transmutation of Ike Garuda, then you’ll probably like the Finder series, which is ongoing by the way. Or, if you can, try to imagine the Hernandez Brothers (Finder, which is in black and white, really resembles Love and Rockets in both its conversational tone and artistic approach.) doing an epic science fictional fantasy, which has footnotes. I can guarantee that you won’t come away feeling unchallenged. (Update: Finder was nominated for three Eisner awards, but unfortunately didn't win in either the categories of Best Continuing Series, Best Single Story, or best artist/writer. She wuz robbed!))

 

 

Wake: Gearing Up
by Jean David Morvan, Philippe Buchet

  • Paperback: 56 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.17 x 12.06 x 8.70
    Publisher: NBM Publishing, Inc.; ISBN: 1561633151; Comic edition (March 2002



Wake is what happens when you imagine the Classic Heavy Metal as if the writing was actually important. This is a completely enthralling, well-written and well-drawn science fiction tale and even though this is the third in the series it stands on its own as a great story. It’s about a lone human girl called Navee in a Milky Way full of aliens looking to find any hint of humanity like herself. She works as a kind of a spy/troubleshooter for the Federation-like rulers that employ her. Her handler tells her there’s a species that genetically resembles humanity on a planet that’s called TRI-JJ 768. Eager to find any clues to her human past, she’s assigned to not only investigate the genetic link but also to explain why the planet is evolving so fast.

 

 



I really enjoyed Wake. The reason I love science fiction is that you can use the form as a prism for social and political exploration. Successful science fiction is also full of cool ideas and Wake has plenty. Just a few that I liked: The steampunk look of the world—with its steam trams, big flame-emitting mechanical droids and dirty industrial feel. I liked the revolutionary group that Navee finds herself thrown in with, a group that senses that all is not right on their world. I liked the idea of genetically mixing the native species—who look like big peaceful sentient polar bears—with human DNA in order to get a new species. I liked the manipulative human geneticist who uses cryonics as a kind of time travel to watch his “experiment” unfold. And finally, l loved the beautiful curvy European look to the book. The city scapes are gorgeous. The coloring and draftsmenship evoke remarkable moods. There's even a hint of Whiteout on an alien world. All in all, it’s highly recommended and worth the $9.95 price. I look forward to more adventures with Navee.

 

 

 

AMNESIA
John Malloy

 

81/2 x 11, 64pp., B&W trade pb.: $9.95, ISBN 1-56163-296-1
NBM Publishing

 

 

 

 

“In these worlds, multiple versions of ourselves exist. They all share the same consciousness, but are completely unaware of the other’s existence…Dreams are the memories our other selves have had, transferred to us while we sleep.”

--From Amnesia


I imagine Amnesia is what the speculative fiction of John Updike—which I’ve never read—must feel like. As it is, and citing works that I’ve actually seen and/or read: Try to imagine a collision between the vibe of the HBO series Six Feet Under and the tone of Jonathon Lethem’s short fiction and you just about have it. Without the pictures, you could stick it in Granta and nobody would get hurt. Amnesia offers us character driven soft science fiction. And it does so in a distinctly unbreathless way, or the opposite way of say your average Charlie Stross or Bruce Sterling short story—where you’re always looking through the accelerating aerocar windshield right before the impending and horrific cyber quantum biotech  nan wreckage to be. (Hang on.)

Our story involves Chloe—writer for a hip LA publication—and her search for a man she considers one of the great artists of our time, otherwise known as filmmaker/novelist Ike Reuben, a definite John Sayles genius type. It features a very interesting idea as its sfnal conceit: Many-Worlds quantum theory. From there, it’s extrapolated that your dreams are actually alternate gateways to your other dimensional selves. Cool idea. As for the the drawn artwork, it feels like a less well-articulated version of the great Jose Munoz (The line isn't quite as clean and there aren't the overwhelming use of Blacks.), but it’s pretty good. What’s groundbreaking is the use of traditional pencils and Photoshop techniques.


Overall, I came away from Amnesia with mixed feelings. To recall the earlier Six Feet Under comparison, I guess I’m more of a Sopranos/Stross/Sterling kind of guy. But for anyone who’s looking at Photoshop or Flash as a new way to do comics—or even science fiction—Amnesia, like the aforepublished Veils, is probably must reading. It should also appeal to Dave McKean fans. I also recommend it for people who like their science fiction to be quiet--with  the notable exception of the serial car bomber--and  introspective.

 

 

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