A Slice of Fried Gold

Think Cosmically, Act Locally

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

#1 - Local by Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly

For my first venture into reading of the year (horrible start to the year caused by a very, very busy January), I read Brian Wood (of DMZ fame) and Ryan Kelly's wonderful 12 issue comic series Local.

While wandering Title Wave books in Anchorage with my mom, we randomly came across a comics "section" (two quick points: quotes on section because it was on book shelf which is smaller than my collection, and that Title Wave is the place that had an employee that I asked "where are your graphic novels?" to which she responded with , in the most condescending way possible, "we only have the German novel Maus", with a look of contempt and disdain in her eyes - not a fan of her) and I eagerly looked through it. While I'm not a fan of Title Wave and their pretentious nature ("I read, thus, I am better than you"), they do offer killer discounts. I saw a collection of all 12 issues of Local and saw that it was only $17.50 while it was $29.99 at Barnes and Noble, well, needless to say I eagerly snatched it up.

Strangely, I then went to Barnes and Noble, drank my coffee and tore through the whole series while listening to Explosions in the Sky (a current fave). I loved every second of this story, which follows one character named Megan McKeenan through her youth as a person who never can find a true home. Each issue features her in a new location, with most issues focusing on her while some focus on others with her simply appearing in them.

All in all though, it's a study of the meaning of home today, of finding yourself through the lens of a location, and it really is an excellent read for a younger person such as myself who still has not necessarily solidifed my sense of identity. The character of Megan finds herself impulsively jumping around the continent of North America, not really searching for something in particular, but trying to find something all the same. She begins her travels in Portland and weaves the continent, and Wood and Kelly meticulously researched each and every location Megan visits (I totally recognized the Pharmacy in Portland and the route she takes into Missoula, Montana) to add a real sense of realism to the story.

Wood really is the king of realistic comics right now, as even his more outlandish comic DMZ, which follows a photographer in a modern day American civil war, is steeped in realism unseen in other comics today. Not only are the locations entirely accurate, but the emotions and thought process behind characters simply feels more human than characters in other comics (or books for that matter). The growth he writes into protagonist Megan is natural and really gives the book an arc when on first sight there doesn't appear to be one.

Of course, Ryan Kelly's art really grounds the story as well, as his locations are not quite photo realistic but extremely detailed, his characters properly convey emotions and thought (although his men do tend to look a bit...similar), and he creates one of the more dynamic looking female characters around with his look for Megan.

All in all, this book is fantastic. Not only does it hit home with the search for identity today, but Megan really has this every girl feel that strikes me strongly as well. I can see a bit of every girl I've ever known in her, and she truly is a remarkable creation by Wood and Kelly.

I definitely recommend this for everyone who wants a good read, regardless of whether you're into comics or not.

Local: A-


Patty said...

Hey, I'm hooked by the storyline.
Might I borrow it?

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