Weeklies

Comic: "Local"
Published by: Other
Written by: Brian Wood
Artist: Ryan Kelly

Reviewer: Protoclown
Posted: 6/16/2008

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.

Overall rating: WholeWholeWholeWholeHalf
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)

Reader Comments

Jun 17th, 2008, 10:25 AM
I know I sound stupid (I am for those of you keeping score at home) but I cannot tell you how much some of the comics you have recommended have enriched my life. I will be grabbing this on my way home from work.
The Goddamned Batman
Jun 17th, 2008, 01:41 PM
Hey, I'm glad to hear that a lot of the books that mean a lot to me are striking a chord with others. Be aware though that Local is not yet available in collected format. If you get it now, you'll have to get the individual issues, but the hardcover collection is coming out in September.
Jun 17th, 2008, 02:37 PM
Damn... It would be hard to find the individual issues but that song seletion feature sounds maybe worth it. I always thought it would be cool for a comic to have some "suggested listening" listed in it to set the mood.
Crazed Techno-Biologist
Jun 18th, 2008, 12:39 AM
mmm, another artsy fartsy piece thats not so much your average graphic novel, but a novel, made of graphics. superb sounding. i hope i run across this one.
Forum Virgin
Jun 18th, 2008, 01:28 AM
Another great Brian Wood series I'd recommend is DMZ, about a civil war in various areas of the U.S., but overall a commentary of the current war and the innocent people caught within the battlezone.
Riot Control
Jun 18th, 2008, 03:04 AM
This sounds cool Proto, I think I might get the hardback collection if the individual issues are no lo nger available.
You betta reco'nize!
Jun 18th, 2008, 02:53 PM
Seems like a book in the vein of "Ghost World," (Which, by the way, everyone should read if they enjoy books like this.) so I'll probably enjoy it. I'll be checking it out!
The Goddamned Batman
Jun 18th, 2008, 06:58 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Max Power View Post
Another great Brian Wood series I'd recommend is DMZ, about a civil war in various areas of the U.S., but overall a commentary of the current war and the innocent people caught within the battlezone.
Yes, DMZ is a fantastic book as well, and I'll probably get around to reviewing it at some point.
Forum Virgin
Jun 19th, 2008, 07:56 PM
Hey, I've just been wondering, how come none of the comics you've reviewed have been manga comics? You're missing out on a large demographic.
OH GOD
Jun 19th, 2008, 09:36 PM
it's probably because manga sucks
The Goddamned Batman
Jun 20th, 2008, 01:31 PM
I don't read manga, thus it is very hard for me to review it.
Sapper Whacker
Jun 20th, 2008, 09:36 PM
proto, could you PLEASE review a JTHM if you ever get your hands on one? please?
Forum Virgin
Jun 21st, 2008, 03:29 PM
I second that motion.
frappez le cochon rouge
Jun 21st, 2008, 03:37 PM
I deny that motion.
Turrican't. :(
Jun 23rd, 2008, 04:42 PM
An American bishoujo...why!? o_0
The Goddamned Batman
Jun 23rd, 2008, 06:12 PM
What in the name of fuck are you yammering about?
Turrican't. :(
Jun 23rd, 2008, 06:42 PM
Why the hell someone would make an American shoujo manga, methinks.
Sapper Whacker
Jun 23rd, 2008, 09:37 PM
Kitsunexus, are you talking about JTHM?

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
frappez le cochon rouge
Jun 23rd, 2008, 09:40 PM
And it blows goats. I have proof.
The Goddamned Batman
Jun 23rd, 2008, 11:16 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kitsunexus View Post
Why the hell someone would make an American shoujo manga, methinks.
They didn't. Local isn't anything like shoujo manga. This story is in no way aimed at young girls, nor is it particularly romantic. It appeals to anyone who likes a good character study.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JJ_Maniac View Post
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
I'm familiar with it. I've not read it, though a friend has loaned it to me. Given the fact that it was loaned to me over two years ago, however, you can imagine that it's probably not high on my stack of priorities, but I will read it eventually.
Forum Virgin
Oct 6th, 2008, 10:19 PM
As it turns out, Proto, the hardback edition does include those afterwards and soundtrack listings you were talking about, so it's definitely on par with the individual issues as far as that goes.
The Goddamned Batman
Oct 7th, 2008, 12:09 AM
Excellent! Glad to hear that! Thanks for letting us know.
"FUCK HEAD!"
Jul 1st, 2009, 04:37 PM
whats with all the manga hate? its a genre there are good ones and bad ones
btw local looks pretty good