Published by: Other
Written by: Brian Wood
Artist: Ryan Kelly
Plot: A dozen loosely connected one-shot stories that follow Megan McKeenan through different locales all across North America over a period of twelve years.
Review: I don't know what exactly made me pick up the first issue of Local (published by Oni Press) back in November of 2005, having been completely unfamiliar with Brian Wood's work at the time, but I'm damn glad I did, because it's easily one of the most compelling comic books I've stumbled across. This series follows the life of a young woman named Megan McKeenan, from the age of about eighteen to thirty. Each issue takes place in a different city, in a different year, and we follow Megan through a series of not just homes, but boyfriends, jobs, and the various messes she makes of her life as she tries to find her place in the world.
Each issue is largely a stand-alone episode, so you can pick any of them up and understand it fairly well, but watching Megan grow as a person over the course of these twelve issues is an immensely rewarding experience, and though you only get brief glimpses into her life once every year, she's as vital and real a character as any I've ever come across. Far from perfect, she makes mistakes and can be a frustrating protagonist at times, but the style of the storytelling, which gives you a snapshot of her life at this place and this time, only to sweep you away to another time and place the next time you see her, make very evident her growth as a character and the lessons she has (or hasn't) learned from her mistakes.
Somehow in the short span of pages he has to work with for each issue, Brian Wood establishes such vivid episodes of Megan's life, and he consistently manages to hit strong emotional notes with every short section of her larger life story. I can't think of a single issue that didn't move me in one way or another, and I can honestly say that he created a character that I began to really care about as I watched her grow from a troubled teenager to a still-troubled but certainly more mature woman.
Ryan Kelly's artwork is impressive, particularly his attention to detail, as one of the later issues illustrates quite well the fact that he'd been planting little "easter eggs" throughout the entire series. His portrayal of Megan as a character that slowly ages as the series progresses is also particularly convincing.
Wood and Kelly both put a tremendous amount of effort into researching each location so they could portray it accurately, and it shows. As I read the Richmond, Virginia issue (which was a very pleasant surprise, seeing as how I live there) I recognized the streets that Megan walked down as real places I myself have walked, and though it's not entirely perfect (the name of one of the establishments shown went by a different name at the time the story takes place), the effort is very much appreciated, and if you happen to live in one of the twelve cities where Megan's life took her, it would certainly serve to draw you in a bit further than most readers.
For those of you interested in checking this out, I'm pleased to say that there's a hardback collection coming out in September. But I for one could never give up my individual issues, because each one ends with an afterward by the writer and artist, at the end of which they give their "soundtrack listing" for that issue, which includes the songs they each found themselves listening to as they worked on it, an entirely welcome addition which doesn't come off nearly as pretentious as it sounds (and one I expect will be sadly missing from the hardback).
I can honestly say that I did not only enjoy this book, I loved it, and I hope that many of you will check it out and feel the same way.
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)
Why the hell someone would make an American shoujo manga, methinks.
Proto, JTHM (Johnny the Homicidal Maniac) is a graphic novel by Jhonen Vasquez, about a guy named Johnny who is basically a homicidal maniac. He starts to go insane and his mind projects "shades" of his mindset into inanimate objects. Also, the entire story comes in something like 7 or so issues. I personally bought Director's Cut, which has them all together for the obscene price of 23.99 Canadian
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