Fresh Eyes

Good evening Bloggers, and all the ships at sea! It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I’ve been back from Denmark and Manchester and Glasgow since June, but I’ve been caught up in plenty of other things…you know that feeling when you get back from a trip, and you want to carry some parts of the trip with you, back into your ordinary life? That was me, for sure…it’s been fifteen years since I’ve travelled anywhere much further than a ferry ride away, and it’s been a couple years now of upending all my old routines, as well as a couple years’ worth of failed attempts at crafting new routines to replace them, and oh my goodness did I ever need a bit of a change. So the blog was suffering already, mostly from what I thought was ennui but what was really preoccupation with other projects…I see that now…and, okay, maybe a little bit of ennui, but when I came back it wasn’t ennui but it was beauty, beauty, beauty what killed the beast. You see, when you’re in your twenties and you’re travelling, you can leave the trip behind you when you return because you’re not yet finished building your life back home; but when you travel in your forties and you haven’t travelled since your twenties, life at home is mapped and known to the extent that either you toggle right back over to it, or you naturally seek to — somehow — flip that switch even farther over the other way.

And that was me. I lost so many routines, you know, that I just couldn’t find agreeable substitutes for…the history of this blog is the history of a life in perpetual flux, I guess…oh, damnit, that’s true, isn’t it?…that I guess returning to routine had a hollow feeling to it. And so for the foreseeable future, I’ll be trying to act as though I’ve taken early retirement at least a couple times each year, trying to wing off to distant climes…there to see new things and be new people…

Not that I kid myself this can ever pass for routine either. For if nothing else is true, it’s true that life is discovered in tensions between warring states of mind, inclinations that can never be followed wholeheartedly without reservations, and so it is that even novelty can pale. “I miss the freedom of life in the desert.” “I miss the companionship of life in the desert.” Coyote, even Steve Englehart’s Coyote, isn’t made to be satisfied by the mere accomplishment of his wishes…for like each of us, he’s a liminal sort of a figure, with one foot in Being and the other in Becoming, and therefore destined by his character to both succeed brilliantly, and screw up hilariously, often at the same time.

But, over time…it’s interesting what comes of the successes and the screw-ups, I think. In the first book of Carla Speed McNeil’s Finder, yellow-eyed Jaeger refuses to watch a program on TV that involves all the natural tropes of TV drama, because he says he sees that sort of stuff all the time in real life, and if he’s lucky he can do something about it and if he’s unlucky he can’t, but he’s not going to sit there and watch things he can’t change go to shit for fun. And it’s a marvellous encapsulation of the sensation I always get when I return from various kinds of absences, to re-enter the routine I laughably refer to as “real life”…to look around and ask oneself, of an object or an activity previously accepted on face value, “just what the HELL is this pathologically-repetitive soul-draining thing, and why the hell do we put up with it?” Of course most of the time we put up with it because we must — because not to put up with it would be to be driven crazy by it — but every once in a while, to see it with fresh eyes

Well, I guess I’m saying it’s salutary. Salutary to aggressively distinguish once again between shit and Shinola, salutary to be able to eschew basing oneself in the things around oneself, and instead look upon those things with a cold, clean eye…to see, to find out, what you can do-or-not-do about the parts of them that are no damn good to anyone

…Which is not all that much of a revelation, I’ll admit it. But it’s interesting to me in the light of reading Finder, because in physical terms Jaeger’s life is not exactly mine — Jaeger stands on top of telephone poles and sleeps on girders and hops over rooftops, the sort of fellow not like me who never saw a reason to use a front door when there was a second-story window handy to a drainpipe instead — but it’s more like mine, it seems to me, then it’s like that of the real-life people I know who do do stuff like that. Mentally, it’s more like me; and I’m more like it. Because…

Finder is really all in the head. You really don’t see this stuff very often, actually: the idle construction of personal fantasy, built over years and years in stray or stolen moments, usually stays locked up in the imagination of the person to whom it is personal, I should guess. Maybe because it starts from something else, some fancy that’s in some part derivative of someone else’s work…hmm, I have more than a few of those, myself…so in a certain way more the creation of a reader than a writer, and then by the time it grows bigger than that, it’s already gotten too big. Too big to be made as itself, out in the real world! Of too complex a pattern, that just accreted around little dramatic set-pieces full of flair, that meant (to begin with) nothing really, but that dragged meaning and texture to themselves over time, and then kept doing it, and never stopped, and never became…hmm, perhaps…a proper story? Not really a proper story, maybe. Maybe something one might guiltily cannibalize bits of, for one’s other “proper stories”, once one had some of those. But not usually, in my experience, something that could in practical terms be realized as itself, in a piece of artwork. I think I can recognize these things, you see, because my own hold so much meaning for me, even though — or maybe because — in the end they’re just mental doodles. Private little things, private little worlds, private little bits of drama and humour and names just so-chosen, but never really intended for public consumption, and never really destined for it. Oh, proper stories, I have those as well…but my little solo flights to imagination aren’t about the joy that comes with doing the job, they’re about the joy that precedes the job. So likely none of you will ever hear anything about them.

And that’s what’s so special about Finder, you see: because it actually is such a world, made as itself. People talk a lot about metatextuality, stories that are about stories, and that’s fine stuff…but it’s not of the same order as the stuff that’s genuinely personal, of the person as a person moreso than of the person as some separate and secondary thing, some separate and secondary role, called an “artist”. Because stories-about-stories don’t just come in Metatextual Flavour, they also come in Psychological Flavour, and in Finder the hints and the clues are all over it, swirling all around it constantly, telling you as clearly as anything that’s clear: this is not primarily an exercise in formal cleverness. This is not just the author as writer at work, but the author as reader as well. The author as the reader of the writer? The author as the person in whom reading and writing and dreaming-up live as components of character, not subsets of aptitudes.

“Follow the path. Waking or sleeping.”

“Follow the path.”

In her copious endnotes, Carla tells us that Jaeger always dreams about mazes and puzzles. And as it turns out we actually do need to know this, as much as we need to know what picture Brig throws away (blink or you’ll miss it!), because Finder is too large to dwell entirely on the drawn page. It isn’t just a wittily-Brechtian parenthetical device like Jack Vance’s footnotes, or a Derridean cosmological experiment like Nabokov’s tunnelled arrays of mutually-mirroring hints …Carla’s internal world really is just too big, too big already, to just be simply set down in inked panels and dialogue, and (as the vivacious Vary would tell you) it’s got a lot less to do with theory than with practice. Suivre our good friend Old Albert: matter is subtle where theory is crude? Hmm, well reading it for the first time you do sense it: the complete image is far too big for you to see. There’s so much you need to know about the Clans; there’s so much you need to know about the people who move around in them and in-between them. And I haven’t even mentioned the Ascians. So, “endnotes” maybe, but hardly “annotations” as we commonly think of them…and I guess maybe that isn’t too writerly?

The story should be the story, should be the story? Self-contained?

Sure, I guess. For a writer. But not for a reader! So this isn’t what we sometimes call these days “back-matter”, it’s much more integral than that, and it’s far from being after-the-fact, far from being simple post-story schematic. And anyway why do writers have to only do it this way or that way anyway, huh Dad? Why does writing have so damn many rules…!

Finder. It’s all in the head, and it’s all of a piece. So you pick up on it, and you pick up on it, and it takes a while. Myself, I didn’t know for sure, not really for-sure for sure, what I was looking at until I read the “Talisman” story. And if you’re so unlucky as to be as dense as I am, you won’t either. But once the dominoes start to fall, they really fall, and the pattern becomes clear…the nature of this particular quest becomes clear, and more importantly it becomes clear as a quest. What are internal landscapes made out of, anyway? How are they crafted, and what purposes do they follow? The world of Finder is a very large one, unusually capacious in both space and time, a galaxy in a planet. But its capacity is not capricious…at least, not now. Maybe long ago, when Carla first thought of it, it might’ve been…

But it isn’t now, so even though you can’t see the big picture all at once, you know that’s because there is one, not because there isn’t. So obviously the first comparison that leaps to mind is Cerebus, because it most famously begins (as all great long-form comics art does, perhaps?) with simple posturing made from rough sketchwork, and immediate goals like poorly thought-out punchlines — thus what it will be about is not what it starts out as. Yet Cerebus may not be the best match, here, if we’re talking about that stuff; Carla clearly learns on the go, but the act of portraying her world is already very well-rehearsed by the time she gets to Page One of “Sin-Eater”, and the skill she brings to the performance is quite as well-developed too. So it’s a little less Dave Sim, and a little more Jaime Hernandez: as the “learning as you go” thing doesn’t just apply to the artist, but the reader learns as well — learns to see confidence and deep intent in something that only looks like it’s being assembled on the fly, and learns to discern the constant aiming at the pattern of a sculpture that was always deeply-felt as implicit in the stone. No epiphanies, but then the process of revelation doesn’t necessarily depend on those, does it? SHOCK, WHOA! is a lovely thing when you can get it, but it doesn’t all actually have to be “shock whoa”, honestly, to be a story. Not when there are more sustaining notes to be sounded. Maggie the Mechanic dances at the tavern by the dinosaur corpse while Hopey reads her letters back in Hoppers, and…you see? Already the SF conceit is emptied, and the characters have taken over, and we’ve barely begun. Like smoking creepy pot, the characters suddenly have always mattered, they’re the only things that have always mattered…somehow they’ve been the only things that matter about the story, for longer even than the story has been available for telling. So their world is very large, and full of strange unseemly familiar things, but the weird world they live in isn’t what counts: Jaeger solves a murder mystery in a minute, in three chilling frames, but it isn’t about the mystery of the unknown, but about that other thing instead. The known: that most bottomless of pools, wherein all meaning is contained, that mystery only ice-skates over the top of. For mysteries are only abstract paradigmmatic creations, after all: the locked rooms all merely indicators, pointing at things the compass misses as it spins. Negative space: it’s the notes you don’t hear, whether we’re talking about American jazz or Japanese calligraphy…and there’s perhaps a reason its creator calls this work “aboriginal SF”? Any edifice of world-building in some way is built to totter, I suspect, when it encounters not just mystery-solution but truth; therefore where this world comes from, and what exactly it is, is a puzzle, a puzzle, a puzzle…but then so is any world, and it always will be, and at the end of the day you have to allow that this is perfectly fine, or at least acceptable, or anyway there’s no point standing around and complaining about it, when you’re either capable of changing it or you’re not. Puzzles, yeah, but we don’t need to concern ourself with the puzzles

The puzzles can wait…!

…But while we’re alive, it’s the problems that we need to deal with as best we can. And the thing about problems, is that they’re always about people. People: the cosmologies that you can touch, and on your own scale too: neither under microscope nor through telescope, but free of theoretical abstractions and displeromatic renditions and oneiratic satisfaction and cleverly symmetrical thematic direction, and perhaps awfully hard to locate the perfect consistency of a locked-room compass-point in, but real, right? Real: and even if impenetrable, still at least not distant. So no matter how chaotic the world and the people in it may be, and however defeating of plan or prophecy, deep still calleth unto deep as far as the observer at X called you goes, and so if the meaning that’s resident in our metatextual fiction is a meaning that means anything at all, it certainly doesn’t mean that “all is fiction” but instead that almost nothing is, and that training wheels are useful when you’re learning to ride, but they’re only a hindrance once the learning is done…and at some point the learning really is done.

Still fun to play with? Yes, of course.

But even play is not meaningless, though to be play it must remain play. Waking or sleeping we follow the path, but sometimes we’re thinking and sometimes we’re dreaming, and those aren’t the same things, they’re not the same kinds of activities…so God help us if we confuse ourselves into accepting that they are the same things, despite everything we experience telling us they’re not, because then the tension of opposed states in our lives is not something we can get the good from, because it isn’t something we can learn to properly flip through to wherever we’re going. I miss the freedom of life in the desert! I miss the companionship of life in the city. But city or desert, thinking or dreaming, Being or Becoming…

We follow the path.

And just so for me, when I returned from my trip. It really had been so long since I was away, you see? Like Jaeger in Anvard, before I left I had to scourge myself every so often to keep from going crazy. I had to seek inordinate stimulation: booze, women, gambling, butter and sugar. It’s like that for many, I think, and it’s far from completely unhelpful. But sometimes the therapy becomes an obstacle: out past the towers downtown is a blue sky tinted pink and purple…and you want to be there, out past the towers, over the mountains, down on the flats, to see it do its thing. You want that, but occasionally it’s hard to remember that’s what you want. Oh, and how many times in my life have I concluded that the shortest route between me and what I want, is the consumption of a lump of hash in a basement apartment with the curtains drawn at six a.m. to sustain the note of night! And sometimes a visit to the government office afterwards to pick up a cheque to keep it going, never mind that I’ve somehow gotten the basics of my desire wrong, and so am just throwing good time after bad. But eventually, I think, the training-wheels fall off no matter what you do…no matter what you do, at some point you are no more the kid in the back of the car who’s moved by nothing but the stimulation of a brand-name at the other end of the too-long highway, but you are the grown-up looking at the plaque on the side of the highway in something like astonishment at the passage of time it’s been set there to mark, and you’re content to let the road get as long as it wants to. And the hell with all brand-name stimulations! But just give me something that’s solidly nameless and real, something that goes further than the feeling of just labelling all the knots in this notional net. Hey, at the risk of derailing the derail, I’ve got to tell you that my good friend Noah B. said he couldn’t get past “the Wolverine thing” with Jaeger…but I have a peculiar notion that’s the very last piece of Wolverine that’s Canadian, that he couldn’t get past. Because surely the featureless fucker that emerges from the ecstatic D&D storm of the frustrated lives of both readers and writers that now typifies the Big Two comics biz, wouldn’t have a sufficient spattering of character to make him specifically distinguishable as “Wolverine”, as a character different from the general swarm of fan-favourite mush that’s worn the hood of some name or set of attributes associated with a name, that’s swept over superhero comics like a tide of one-minute oatmeal w/ skim milk in the last quarter-century or so? And maybe there really is no such character as “Wolverine”, anymore? Just a niche for a specific type of anger or lust, or incipient sexual frustration, or combination of all three, to lodge in: “NAME”? “SUPERHERO FIGURE X”?

And also for some reason I have to put up with that “bub” shit.

Honestly, I ask you.

But past all that, and maybe thanks to no one but Len Wein and Dave Cockrum and my own Canadian gaze (just added on to by Claremont and Byrne a tiny bit, even if an unusually effective bit), somehow there is something, even if it was only ever the slightest thing, in Wolverine that connects with my life. First he was a sawed-off little shit, who always jumped too soon and landed too hard; then he was a man with a past, that he felt apologetic for, and on occasion was rescued from by an “animal” awareness and sense of self. That “animal” stuff, by the way, that’s not really too good to be throwing around if you’re not a Native guy, and especially a white guy like me must always feel indeed faintly apologetic for even thinking of it as a Thing — ’cause it’s just too close to the Noble Savage stuff, you know? — yet the body goes on, and the wind and sky are real in a way that the chequebook and the dry-cleaning are not, and one’s physicality remains the indispensible cornerstone of identity, so an “animal” self, sure…well, everybody has to be from somewhere, right?  In Canadian high schools, we are educated (even if perhaps not very well) in the idea that our country is one whose history is all about kicking the shit out of people who got here before you: the Inuit pushing on the Thule pushing on the Dorset, the English pushing on the French and the Spanish, and the Americans on the Canadians and the “Indians” all on one another willy-nilly all the way from the time of glaciation, and of course everybody hates the Jews…so pretty soon if you’re following along you do manage to hear the bell ringing, even if it’s somewhat faint and far away at times, and what it’s tolling for is the idea that anybody in this place is empowered to disregard the fact that some sort of dirt got done to somebody else in their name, somewhere along the way, for nothing but pure territory. So nobody really owns this place; but as a general rule if your claim to it is better than someone else’s, then you probably have less of it than they do. And you get shit kicked in your face because of that.

But then…just possibly…

SNIKT!

“Now it’s my turn”. It is actually possible, to turn things around and work for the positive, or if you can’t find the positive then you can try to make it up. Wolverine was never so much a Canadian fantasy-figure as in his famous first spotlight issue — the bullshit Vegan deerstalking in X-Men #108 (?) (can’t be bothered to check right now) a run-up to that take-off — and after that it was all (uh…) downhill, down and down to being a ninja or a soldier or a cowboy or an elf or WHATEVER, but whatever he was he was never really Canadian again, but just a citizen of the corporate world, all things to one demographic once (uh…) liftoff was achieved: a slow-walking bad-ass, a warrior-poet, a pinky-swearing BFF, a Manager’s Special Philip Marlowe…an imbecile, I guess? A poseur? All things to no people?

For a moment, though, he was kind of awesome. The short runty white dude with a temper who’s always on the end of a beatdown, well that’s at least a reasonable metaphor for me and others like me…yet Wolverine’s white runtiness’ worm-turn in the sewer does carry with it some echoes from the deeper strata of the Canadian laminate, all the shitkicked people who were Here Before Whomever perhaps ham-fistedly summarized just a little in the dude who was evolved up from the woodland creature, most ferocious of the weasel family? Ah, the “animal self”, well of course the animals were Here Before Everybody, and they’re still here…

Although, yeah…it’s pretty goddamned clunky, and as even an accidental political statement it doesn’t smell so fine, no matter how it sat with me back in the early Eighties. Well, of course it comes out of the superhero formula in which character is found in Things External…which for anything thicker than a cigarette paper doesn’t work so well, is faintly horrid…because Hero-Man can have a big punch-out session with the evil Self-Doubt-A-Tron, and that’s okay, but it doesn’t work so well when you change the names of the combatants to things like Captain Blackface and Dr. Holocaust or whatever, because this thing depends on a certain amount of innocence, perhaps concomitantly on a certain amount of ignorance…

However…still

Wolverine could’ve been a Native guy underneath that funny yellow mask, you know, or a little Quebecois junkyard dog for that matter, or even just a guy who says “eh” instead of “bub”, and the thing is that he might have been, and almost sort of was, in a way I’m sure needs no explaining to you, Bloggers, with your encyclopediac knowledge of X-history…so although he wasn’t any of those things in the end, at that moment he almost signalled them, and the externalized character things all around him did seem to spell out that sentence even if the spelling was all garbled

But, absolutely: clunky. So see how much more authoritatively Carla deals with the very same welter of influence and possibility in Jaeger’s character, and how it makes him very much Not-Wolverine…or at least, not him as he became. This is SF and fantasy, so there are plenty of Things External in it as well, but the superhero formula of hyperaggressive externalization isn’t applied, the set-pieces aren’t so set and the politics is less unpolitical, and most importantly of all Jaeger is a person, and thinking or dreaming he has a point of view. Which is, I suppose it hardly needs saying, a whole lot more interesting than merely being a point of view…surrounded only by other points of view, that’ve been embodied in cowl and cape…

…And definitely superior by miles and miles to not even being a point of view, condemned to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with other signifiers as hollow as yourself, against nothing but drearily-unspecified cosmic menace ’til un-time itself comes to an end…

Just posing, and after I returned from the Northern Circuit it did come to me how much posing I’d been wont to do back here at home, just to get along and anaesthetize the days, that I wasn’t at all comfortable with. Oh, I don’t mean to blow it up out of proportion! Don’t worry about me, Bloggers, I’m not suffering…! But I did feel a bit like maybe I’d expended some effort in avoiding the path rather than following it, and that I did this by pretending — on occasion — that I couldn’t see it. Like any of us I suppose, I’ve got a certain number of gaps in my life, that the smooth process of routine very helpfully makes invisible most of the time. Blind spots: the brain just fills in the details for you, gives the illusion of continuity when really there’s only pattern. Negative space is everywhere, but you blip over it because it’s negative space, and the whole point (so you’ve always been told) is to go on through life by drawing the knots closer together in the net, forging a plenum, approaching a singularity of convenience and reward, after the experience of desire and effort…going through the gaps in order to dispose of them. And don’t get me wrong: I don’t say there’s anything wrong with that, not anything at all. Why would I, when it’s perfectly natural, and something everybody does including me? But this year — and perhaps it’s that strangest of things talking, my age — I’ve found myself more interested in locating the gaps again, that I have in previous years papered over.

Don’t really know why?

But it seems to be working. Anyway, putting all that aside…hey, yeah, why don’t we?…and returning to Finder

Perhaps my personal musings are a bit out of place, in a discussion of it, but it’s hard not to feel the personality of the thing. It’s a worked-out world, but it’s as much dreamed-out as thought-out in its workings: very much like a dreamscape, with damaged logic that on waking stimulates the creation of necessary connective tissue, that otherwise would never have been conceived. Well, does anybody really leave their dreams completely behind them when they wake? Does anyone simply shake their head and dismiss a lingering vivid image as “something irrelevant”? How did Jaeger get up there on that telephone pole, anyway? Obviously I can’t answer any of these questions because I don’t know the answer to any of them, but it does seem to me as though every reverberating dream-image that dogs your morning walk to work, exerts a pull as you cross the road, colours the scene as you sit on the train, also demands a tribute: a thought to equal the dream’s intensity, to balance it and resolve it, and if you are inclined in a certain way you will deliver that thought. This, I think, is the kind of interior movement that has its fingerprints all over Finder…the feet pick out the door you’re to walk through and on the elevator the fingers find the right button to push for your floor, but the mind is elsewhere, and busy, with more important matters. Things Internal? All psychology is metatextual, but not all metatextuality is psychological, and I think we can tell that difference when we see it…anyway I think I can see it in Carla’s work, which to my eyes reads just like a dream-diary…

Yah.

It reads like my dream-diary. Hell, it’s got my own dream-self in it, and everything.

Jesus, how does she do that?

7 responses to “Fresh Eyes

  1. Haven’t done one of these in a while! Got more planned for this week. Of course it’s rather disheartening to come back after just a few months to find that WordPress has DICKISHLY updated itself in such a way that everything takes longer, is more cumbersome, etc. etc. to no perceptible effect except some things are simply headdesk-worthy. Like this comment-window here, what’s the deal with how it doesn’t show a cursor? It’s fucking RIDICULOUS work editing one’s text in a window like this now.

    You get the feeling that, pursuant to that WP thing of a while ago where they gave advice on blogposting incl. “don’t write really long posts, nobody likes that and the other children will laugh at you”, they’ve thought it over and figured “people really shouldn’t leave long comments either, it’s impolite, we should make that more of a PAIN IN THE ASS for them to do.”

    Shit, want to edit this NOW, but can’t see where I am in the fucking thing…OH WELL…

  2. Pingback: Linkblogging For 16/10/12 « Sci-Ence! Justice Leak!·

  3. Has anyone ever compared your writing style to French theorists like Derrida and Foucalt? I just realised that you remind me of them. Your sentences are like freight trains, they set off, clarify themselves, clarify again, are first literal, then figurative, derail, derail the derailment (derange the derangement?), and then — impossibly — arrive (but where?). The difference, for me, is that I have never managed to completely read a single article by either Derrida or Foucalt, while I have enjoyed reading many of your brain-bending blog posts!

  4. I’ve missed you too, David! Glad I’m helping to bend your arm to read Finder, I don’t doubt you’ll love the immersive experience.

    Derrida and Foucault, eh? Just a little while ago, Dave Fiore was kind enough to confirm a suspicion of mine, that Derrida is quite witty and therefore easy to read in French, and it’s only when he’s translated into English that the wit is lost and the stuff gets overly-dense. Nevertheless: high praise! I’d never dare to write this way outside of blogland, unless it was to order — this largely consequence-free writing environment is really rather ludic, eh? Play, play, it’s all about the play…all art is play, and all play art, but some play’s more structured and some’s more haphazard, and I LIKE BOTH.

    Unfortunately Australia may be too warm for me, although I do have friends in NZ as well, and haven’t seen their kids for a while…

    Hmm…

  5. Totally agree on the Derrida/Foucault comparison! And totally agree that you’re much more readable.

    (I see a cursor! Maybe you will soon too. I hope so.)

  6. I’m both pissed off and delighted that you’ve written this post Plok, pissed because it’s bigger (and more importantly, better!) than most of my writing on the same topic, and delighted because, well – see above!

    I love the Derrida/Foucault comparisons that have been thrown your way, they strike me as being both accurate and pertinent to this post, which is after all about a comic book series that needs to teach you how to read it just that little bit more than most of the others. Reading Sin Eater for the first time wasn’t totally different from reading my first bit of theory, or my first experience A Trout in the Milk – I thought that maybe I was going to get the bends coming out of all three of these contacts, but I still knew that I wanted to go back for more.

    The comparisons to Cerebus and Love and Rockets strike me as being broadly accurate or at least applicable, and it occurs that Carla Speed McNeil is unusual in that she seems to have chosen transitional works like these as rough templates. Sim, Beto and Jaime seem to me to be genius forerunners who’ve never quite worked out how to live in the promised land – their work definitely points towards what Eddie Campbell might regret calling “the graphic novel sensibility”, but they’re all still bound to the world they came from, the world of ever-expanding, serially published stories and universes. Finder doesn’t read like a traditional comic or a “graphic novel”, and its, uh, textual density makes it feel less like manga than the art might occasionally suggest, but – as you saliently point out – the endnotes are they key here, because it’s almost like McNeil’s taken that transitional work and transitioned it elsewhere by becoming her own most attentive and inspired letter-page correspondent. She’s her own David Fiore, almost, at points!

    While Grant Morrison might occasionally talk about how he’s found a new way to use the technology of comics (see, for example, his recent comments re: Multiversity), what he normally means is that he’s found a way to make the technology of comics feel new even though we all know it’s not. With the endlessly enlightening and baffling overly of annotations on text it seems to me that Carla Speed McNeil is pushing beyond such surface impressions and towards something that might cautiously be described as “new”.

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