Friday, February 8, 2013

Marvel us

Revolver One full preview
Image copyright © 2013 Salgood Sam/Max Douglas.

I posted this review on Goodreads already but I thought I'd re-post here with a few links to the author's work.

RevolverOne is a collection of ten short graphic fictions and poems written by Max Douglas, A.J.Duric, and John O'Brien, and drawn by Douglas, AKA Salgood Sam.

The fictions unfold surreally. “Each day he awakes to another dream-like day,” reveals the narrator of “Pin City”. But these are not dreams of optimism; there is little joy to be found either in the text or the art work. What these stories do offer, however, is a looking glass to contemporary North American society where predominantly men above a certain age are caught up in a kind of hinterland between what they imagine life should offer and what the reality of their existence is.

Like much post-modern fiction, the stories in Revolver One call attention to their very artifice: reflections within reflections ask the reader to make comment on what it means to observe. Douglas conveys this apathy so well the text is all but superfluous and, at times, it becomes an impediment to the visual narrative. 

Though muted and limited in palette, the art demonstrates a level of skill many comic artists can only aspire to. Perspectives are juxtaposed Escher-like adding to the alter-reality quality of each individual story as well as the collection generally. Revolver One feels like a cohesive whole. 

“The Rise and Fall of It All” employs Douglas’ perspective wizardry at its very core to tell the story of a man who loses his job. Having worked in a glass cube at the top of a sky scraper overlooking the city, the protagonist finds himself down on the street, overlooked by the reader, a shift that far from allowing the reader any sense of superiority instead acts as a warning against the kind of apathy explored in “Pin City”. The themes of this collection echo and reverberate in every panel.

One feature of the layout that really surprised and delighted me, as a reader and aspiring comic artist, is Douglas’ use of tangents to create intense dialogue between the external landscape of the city and the inner or psychological landscape of the protagonist. 

What Revolver One demonstrates is that there’s more than one way of looking at something. We can observe society from a distance, objectively, but unless we put ourselves in the position of the protagonist in any of these fictions, we may end up trapped in not so much a dream world as a reality behind glass, unable to escape.


Lori said...

I am not a fan of graphic fiction, but, wow, this collection sounds like a masterpiece. Very interesting. I think you might make me lean over to the other side with your work and these other interesting books that you introduce us too.

Kass said...

"...a kind of hinterland between what they imagine life should offer and what the reality of their existence is." - what a profound way to describe the gap and resultant alienation we feel surrounding so much of not only a man's, but everyone's life experience.

Is how we see ourselves in the allegory of our lives the same as how we relate to a fictional representation? Are we trapped behind glass, as you suggest?
What does it mean to observe? Does it lead to apathy?

Your review has raised many interesting questions for me.

D.M. SOLIS said...

A very generous post, not only in how you try to see what the artist is trying to say, but it what you say, and what you do (linking to the artist's work). Anyway, you had us at Escher. I very much enjoy following your blog.

Peace and all good,

Rachel Fenton said...

Come over to the dark side, Lori :) That's great if this review can make you interested in something you were previously closed to - that makes me very happy and optimistic about a lot of things. Thanks.

Rachel Fenton said...

Kass, I think we narrate ourselves to a certain extent and it takes some adjustment of perspective, some active effort, to make a meaningful change, whether for ourselves or for others. Change requires a bump off the rails - hey, my train still works and it's not even on the track anymore............

Rachel Fenton said...

Diane, thank you - and lovely to hear from you again! I think I'm always trying to find out what this thing called life means. And if I stand here, what does it look like, and if I move to there, how does it feel etc.

Anonymous said...

Intriguing! I shall track this down on the strength of your review, Rae. Great cover too!

Rachel Fenton said...

Thanks, Dick!