Here we go; what is annually our most debated list both internally and in the comments, here is our ten favorite writers of 2015. Some new faces, some old face’s and some surprising rankings. Continue reading This Year’s Finest 2015: The Ten Best Writers
LOOKING FOR BOOKS TO BUY THIS WEEK?
LOOK NO FURTHER.
HERE ARE SOME ISSUES THAT WILL NOT DISAPPOINT.Tyler’s Recommendations: Dark Corridor #2
“I really enjoyed the first issue of this new series from Rich Tommaso, so I’m very excited to read this one. All fans of crime books should be checking this series out, you won’t regret it.”
By Ales Kot & Will Tempest
Sometimes it pays to be patient.
My initial reaction to the first issue of this series was subdued. I saw some intriguing characters and ideas on display, but nothing really congealing into any sort of narrative (traditional or otherwise). It felt more like scattershot fragments than a whole. However, I stuck with the title and was rewarded with a second issue which I enjoyed much more. Kot’s portraits grew clearer as did the overall shape of his story. The various characters were all lost souls, adrift in a world which made little sense to them. This feeling of dislocation continues in #3, accompanied now by an even stronger emotional resonance.
Where a more conventional narrative might take its time setting up the plot, Kot is concerned with a different type of exposition. The reader spends time getting to know the characters’ states of mind. The emphasis is on ambience, feeling as the characters do. Only then does Kot begin to unfold his story. #3 is where this process really pays off, conveying theme and emotion in equal measures.
Continue reading This Week’s Finest Material #3
“The maps in our hands no longer match the territory—and perhaps they never did. Now what?”
The world is rapidly shifting around us. On this, at least, we can all agree. The hows, whys and what-nexts, however, those are the tricky parts. There no longer seems to be any sense of collective concern or common cause. Society is splintered into so many niche groups (partisan or otherwise) that inter-clique dialogue is virtually impossible. We exist as fragments, instead of whole communities. This sense of dislocation suffuses Ales Kot and Will Tempest’s new Image series Material. Kot has structured his narrative as a series of character vignettes which lack any clear narrative connection. This sensation is reinforced by Tempest’s art, which typically shows characters alone in panels, rarely sharing space with anyone else. Instead of belonging to any larger purpose (i.e. story) they all feel adrift in their various lives. The professor, the actress, the former detainee, are all disorientated in their own manner. They could also use some guidance out of their personal labyrinths. Problem is, there is none to be had.
Continue reading Material, Bela Tarr and Creative Rebirths
In it’s debut, Material feels like writer Ales Kot’s most ambitious and complicated work in a short career that’s been defined by ambitious and complicated work. This is a writer that’s made the final arc of his cyber punk government assassin saga about William S Boroughs and turned a Bucky Barnes ongoing into a galactic Moebius riff on love, but perhaps most surprisingly, is how ordinary Material’s setting is. Almost nothing about Material crosses over into the fantastical, the closest it get’s to science fiction comes from a sentiment AI, which really isn’t that far from reality anyway. But that’s also what gives the book it’s strength, it’s finding the wonder in the everyday occurrences the way Terrence Mallick’s most recent films have that gives the book it’s resonance. Unlike Mallick, Material has a lazar like focus on it’s expansive cast and in a few pages, it gives forth a rich character study on several different people from varying walks of life, all with a uniquely personal struggle. Those personal struggles are used touch on hyper modern and of the moment concerns; things like police brutality against African Americans, PTSD from America’s extended foreign war time activity, gender politics within the entertainment industry; it’s all given an insightful and full examination in a small economy of pages and it’s the smart character work that makes those story resonate. Kot has this incredible trick in Material where he makes big ideas feel personal by putting the reader in the place of the character, in effect allowing us to view our own world through fresh eyes. Artist Will Tempest, who previously worked with Kot on issue #5 of Zero, has a strong illustrative presence that feels like Dan Clowes/Harvey Peker and helps center the books experience and establish it’s mood by using a shifting color palette that does well in accentuating the character studies and the relationship they have to their environment. All of this makes for a impressive debut. While the complicated low stakes is not be for everybody, the subtlety with which it explores the splendor of the mundane is a welcome reprise where Kot explores many of the same themes that permeate his prior work, but does so in a way he’s never done before.