Thursday, October 23, 2008

In Review Of: Local Hardcover by Wood and Kelly

I came to the Local series in the middle, and made a totally 2008 decision: to not search out the back issues but simply wait for the trade. Except that the trade isn't a trade, but a beautifully produced hardback . And the series holds together exceptionally well. The issues that I had with it when it first came out are the same that i have here, with all the supplemental material in one spot.

The series was a good idea, one that allowed for some fascinating vignettes in the life of Megan. Stories like "The Last Lonely Days at the Oxford Theatre" don't have to go too far to wallow in the level of fucked-upedness that so many of us felt at that age. Wood has captured it beautifully; the hopelessness, the subtle treachery of the minimum wage worker, the small victories that the lost feel with the subtle deception of the switching name tags. There are other standouts here as well: the abject hopelessness of Megan's cousin as a teenager, and, best of all, the real coda of the series, issue #11.

Wood had taken a pretty unflinching look at Megan and her immediate family: her father and brother's alcoholism, her own inability to make commitments or to have any empathy for others in her travels, her cousin's casual violence. After suffering through all the growing pains and intransigence of her earlier years, the story actually opens on Megan in a good space, perhaps the only time that any of the stories have, and puts her into a story headlong with a younger self, and not a carbon copy but simply another young woman with with as little empathy as Megan ever showed in any of her earlier relationships. It not only lets us revisit the small bits and pieces of her past as they're shown on display in the gallery, but puts us in the position of being both voyeur and sympathetic friend. We have been there as Megan ran out on roommates, blew perfectly healthy relationships, lied casually to anyone that she had run into and yet we're to feel her violation as her things are stolen and held up as fictional items for everyone to see. It is both a betrayal of trust and a suitable comeuppance to her. And it helps her take one more step forward in her level of maturity.

If there is any problem that I had with the series, it really is only in the last issue. The story tries to follow Megan back home to the house that she ran away from 20 years earlier, and tries to answer the nagging questions that we all have as we get older: am I just the sum of my experiences, the sum of my parents longing for me to become something else, the sum of my own mistakes? For most of us, and for Megan, the we're left with our own answers, since the ghosts and wall don't talk. But the issue is oddly overly sentimental, and, in returning Megan to the old house, seems to betray the growth that we had finally seen from her in the last issue. Megan steps back, and seems to be going back to nothing particually interesting. It serves the authors needs, but not Megan's needs, and that's an issue. There really is nothing there for her, at least not for the character thatwe've been seeing, the walls won't talk, and her mother's decision to leave the house to her may not have anything deeper to it at all as much as Wood might wish to pretend.

The package of the book is superb, with great design and all the bits and pieces that made the series interesting to pick up along the way. The guest pin-ups in the back are all included, and I'm sorry taht I didn't get mine in in time to be included! I had a neat one with Megan and her shirt is a map that was kinda neat. While i doubt that I'll need to go back and reread all the text pieces for each issue, they are an intersting slice of time when each issue was created. I specifically like the "soundtrack" portion, since I tend to have different CDs that I can recall listening to as I worked on each page. Practically every comic that i ever drew has its own soundtrack. Overall the hardback is essentially better to have, in my mind, than the original issues. It sits better on the shelf and reads well, since this is a series that works as a thematic whole, despite being a collection of single stand-alone stories.


Anonymous said...

"The Last Lonely Days at the Oxford Theatre"

inkdestroyedmybrush said...

oops, was typing that out of memory and totally forgot to correct that i had the title wrong. Knew that i was not remembering it correctly.

thanks for the correction. It has been taken care of in the post.