Localby Brian Wood, Ryan Kelly Published 10 Sep 2013
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From Brian Wood (DEMO, DMZ, NORTHLANDERS) and Ryan Kelly (LUCIFER, AMERICA VIRGIN) comes Local, a collection of twelve interconnected short stories. Crossing genres as it crosses the country, LOCAL examines Megan McKeenan, a young woman who sets off from Portland, OR with nothing but a backpack and a bad case of wanderlust. Each emotional vignette is a self-contained story that represents one year in the life of this young vagabond as she struggles to find a place to call home, both physically and spiritually.
First, this novel is a pleasure to look at and hold. So well packaged. I read this in one sitting, I enjoyed it like an indie movie, but it was really reading the artist/writer entries at the back that led me to re-read it and appreciate it on a whole different level. I am beginning to really love the innovation and freedom of narrative that is possible with the graphic novel genre. This is a great entry for my shelf of keepers!
I wanted to take a day to reflect. This was a BIG story with single stories for each chapter and all connecting at the very end. Megan is a drifter. That means she travels from city to city to try and find her place. Find people she can connect to. You start off with a story of her and the current boy she'd dating and how he wants her to do something illegal and score him drugs. Then you flip to a story about a stalker who she begins to somewhat fall for. Then we jump into a time when she was helping a guy broken down on the side of the road and turns into a brawl with a lot of shooting and killing.
We keep jumping in every story. Megan gets older, but we get insight on each year of her life. A story that hits her hard and molds her to someone. To a person she is now at the end. It's amazing how these disconnected individual stories somehow come all together and hit you hard. Things that you don't expect to come back do and sometimes stories seem useless but matter in the long run.
What I liked: The art is amazing! I really enjoyed that part of it. I also loved 5 or 6 of the stories, enjoyed the rest aswell. It's hard to have every story connect to me. Megan is a interesting character. Brian Wood doesn't paint her as a "great" or "wonderful" or "Flawless" character but you can also understand her ways. The mistrust, the loss of love, the hatred she holds. It makes her truly remarkable. I also liked Nick a lot.
What I didn't like: Wish we had another chapter or two on Nick. This wasn't his story but I would have taken another of him. He was interesting. I also wasn't feeling the musician story. That was the only one I didn't really care for.
I really liked Local. I think it's one of the better stories told. I was thinking of going with a 4 but it's closer to a 4.5. The negatives really didn't impact me much at all. So I'ma give it a 5 star because I think it's a gutsy story with a lot of heart and while I think it has a couple of issues it's very very very much worth reading.
12 separate stories, stand alone stories, but now linked in the collection, all about a girl who leaves Portland to find herself in different cities and we get Ryan Kelly's great art depicting her in various ways in these places, and each story is a year from her life… I won't write a long review because I just read Raina's and agree with it, and it is more thorough, but I also was disappointed it kinda gets wrapped up in the way it does, and I also liked the really edgy ones.
Most peoples' perception of the opposite sex are pretty damn flawed. There's really only three kinds of people anyone really deals with, the people who you're attracted to, the people who are attracted to you, and the people thrown your way by circumstances (coworkers, churches, book groups, etc). This is hardly a scientific cross sample of anything, but people base their perceptions around such data.
Much has been said about the sort of capricious girls some men find eternally screwing with their lives. On one end of the spectrum are girls like Natalie Portman in "Garden State", a girl who comes into some uptight guy's life and loosens him up like he's been through a Rodney Dangerfield movie.
On the other end of the spectrum are characters like Kate from Lost, who seem like overcharged nightmares who will most likely leave you dead in a ditch on fire.
I think what I'm suggesting is that men don't know crap about the opposite sex as a whole. Or to be more accurate, people don't know crap about people by in large. It's kind of impossible to have that kind of granular understanding of 51% of the population, let alone people in general.
Watch a stand up comedian do a bit about the differences between men and women and you'll see the sort of distorted perception I'm talking about.
I bring all this up because it's what comes to mind reading Brian Wood's "Local", a series of short stories all relating to a girl named Megan, a capricious girl constantly on the move trying to find a way to get her life in order. She falls somewhere in the center of the two stereotypes, which is nice.
Brian Wood usually impresses me. "DMZ" is a consistently interesting take on our extremely divided culture, and as a whole he's done a lot to advance the non-superhero realm of comics, which is what I'm usually hunting for at the Barnes and Noble. The trouble with "Local" for all it's empathy is that it feels like an outside perspective no matter how much it tries to get into Megan's head.
It's a sketch of a girl, someone trying to make sense of a force that has passed through the lives of a certain kind of man. I can't tell if it's an amalgamation of girls, or based on a specific person, but it definitely doesn't feel like Wood conjured Megan out of thing air.
I was frustrated by the book because it seemed like it just couldn't reach the heart of the matter, but it gets points for trying. I'd still rather read stories like this than pick up the latest violent soap opera about men in tights any day.
What a gorgeous piece of work. Slices of life from all over North America, covering a dozen years. The binding is notably artful and there are liner notes in the back. I find myself wanting to open the book to a random page and just stare forever. The edgy realism is just breathtaking. This is the kind of sequential art I would frame and put up on my wall (obvious shout-out to Ryan Kelly). I particularly enjoyed the vignettes which were a touch twisted - Polaroid Boyfriend; The Last Lonely Days at the Oxford Theatre; Megan and Gloria, Apartment 5A; and The Younger Generation. I gloried in taking this out to lunch and even took a picture of my table one day featuring the "big big comic book" I checked out from my library.
I was convinced I needed to own this blissfully fantastic thing*.
And then I got to #12.
I hated it. I hated that the stories were "wrapped up" and not left to their disparate selves. I hated that there were lessons that were made explicit. I hated the magical realism elements. I was so disappointed.
So now I'm left trying to decide if I will purchase this after all. I think I'll put it on a wish list and see if I get it as a gift. And maybe I just need to reread the last chapter (or the whole dang thing). Maybe I'll change my mind.
But for now, it's losing a star.
*And let me tell you, I almost never buy books anymore.
I am fast becoming a huge fan of Brian Wood's. Like Demo, this book is about fringe characters, those who are rootless and alienated. The main character Megan is herself rootless, a reluctant travelor who can't put down roots. It is fitting then that she is our guide to perscription drug addicts, brothers who lose it and nearly destroy their famillies, and even her own family torn apart not just by the tragic death of their mother, but of the horrible house where they grew up. Her brother is so full of rage that he tries to destroy everything in sight, Megan's response? To go and go and go. The art here while not as constantly evolving as Becky Cloonan's in Demo is still wonderful Ryan Kelly is a great artist who's work is meticoulous and detailed. You can almost see photographs in his drawings. Wood's work, while it never approaches some of the lyricism of Demo, is still incredible. Every issue is it's own universe, every character is very vivid. My favorite is the art show where we see mementos from each episode in the series shown in an art show. "What unites them is what is important." While an artist says this, the person who does know what unites them realizes they don't really mean anything. I can't wait to read Wood's next series.