First, let’s start with what Lynda Barry’s graphic novel is not: drab, ordinary, boring. As an intellectual rhapsody of the power of image, form, andFirst, let’s start with what Lynda Barry’s graphic novel is not: drab, ordinary, boring. As an intellectual rhapsody of the power of image, form, and function within writing, What It Is is unlike any book I’ve ever experienced: undeniably an oddity– although wonderfully so. Barry’s stylized use of color, text, imagery, and wording is gorgeous, and the thoughts/questions that she poses are intuitively reflective. Her “essay” questions (which bear the post script “we do not know the answers”) cover topics such as the nature of imagery, the effect of words, and the concept of a story in relation to one’s own past, present, and future.
Reading this graphic novel, and indeed pondering some of the questions it asks, brings to light my (lately dormant) creative side, and also the desire in me to do something about it. It isn’t so much the subject matter itself, but more the abstract and free-formed way in which Barry presents her thoughts that makes this book so compelling; I’m in awe of her style. She professes the idea that writing doesn’t always need structure: writing, art, creativity can be as unrestrained as we want it to be, which I think is a concept that lately I’ve overlooked....more
Well, I have to hand it to Robert Kirkman: just when you think things can’t get worse for Rick Grimes and his band of survi[First read: November 2011]
Well, I have to hand it to Robert Kirkman: just when you think things can’t get worse for Rick Grimes and his band of survivors, they do.
No spoilers here, but I’ll say that Kirkman sufficiently executes his vision of a desolate human wasteland; throughout the course of the series, the concept of humanity in the few survivors has arguably become as decayed as the undead themselves. Not, exactly, that you can blame them for losing hope— I’m starting to feel that Kirkman has made his point and is now just turning sadistic; it feels like there’s very little balance in the series, Rick & company consistently seem to have their hope ripped away from them at every opportunity. Admittedly, I’m torn: on one hand, I feel that Kirkman does a magnificent job of realistically portraying just how austere and futile their world has become in the wake of the Zombie apocalypse, and the fact that the characters are even still trying to survive at all, despite the horrific magnitude of everything they’ve been through, speaks volumes. However, I do wish that they could have even some bare glimmer of hope that doesn’t immediately get tarnished and then curb-stomped. I realize that, essentially, that’s the entire point of the series: to see exactly what limits people are capable of reaching before they break, but personally, I’m beginning to grow weary of the melancholy and the atmosphere of complete and utter desolation. Come on, Kirkman, give these poor people a reason to keep going that doesn’t end up being only an illusion (or worse, a trap).
I feel as if the series is winding down; in the first six or seven volumes, I was excited to read the latest issue, wanting to see just how Rick & company manage to survive (or not). With the last two or three issues, however, it’s just been one agonizing ordeal after another, and I literally find myself exhausted just trying to wrap my head around the intensity of the level of suffering that these people are subjected to. When it comes down to it, I want so badly for Kirkman to just throw them some hope of survival, even if it’s just a shred— even if the point of the series is to see how far humanity can be stretched, it’s starting to get a bit outrageous. I actually stopped reading halfway through volume 12, after reading 10 & 11 consecutively— I plan, of course, to pick it back up again, but not tonight— I’m just not sure how much more misery I can stand to read in a single evening. ...more