Sean Maher's Quality Control

Friday, April 14, 2006

APE Decompression: Fragile Prophet

Wow.

I didn't realize it until I went to reference my review from last year, but Fragile Prophet has been a "Best In Show" read for me twice in a row now.



I picked up an advance copy of the first issue from the Lost In The Dark Press table at APE 2005, and reviewed it on the old Zealot's Lore site (back when I somehow thought that was a good name for a blog). I said at the time that "it was my favorite "find" – oh, I picked up a lot of other stuff I loved, like a bunch of mini-comics from the good Mr. Jeremy Tinder and the big new trade collection of Arsenic Lullaby, stuff I knew going in that I would love, but this was my favorite book to discover."

This year, they've finished the book and have put together a handsome trade paperback, complete with - get this - a quote from my review printed on the back.

Well, shit, walking up to the booth and finding that just made me feel like a million bucks. It helps, of course, that not only does the first chapter hold up as well as I remembered it (better, actually, since they've retouched a lot of the lettering), but the complete story is absolutely fantastic.

It's a great book, and I realized in describing it to Manuel that it's got a fucking wicked hook, too. Dig it:

An autistic young boy begins seeing pieces of the future, and one days sees his own; he turns to his older brother - his only family in the world - and asks, "Why do you let me die?"

I mean, bam! Sold!





I said last year that artist Stephen R. Buell "has a style that reminds me a bit of the old Aeon Flux cartoons on Liquid Television; the anatomy is slightly skewed, the faces stretched out, but there remains something very viscerally human and personal about the characters he draws. It’s just stylized enough to make the reader a little bit uncomfortable, a little bit unfamiliar, but without alienating us from the characters."

That style serves the rest of the story just as well as it did the opening chapter, only in the later bits of the book Buell mixes it up and gets a little more experimental. There are some really amazing splash pages here, for the big moments, and they all pack a punch. But the real change-ups come in the final chapter of the story, right at the same time that Jeff Davidson's script begins taking its biggest risks. It's incredibly brave storytelling, and must have been a huge challenge for the creators. I've long been fond of music producer Rick Rubin's advice to Slayer in their early days, that "the perfect take is the one that feels like it's ready to fall apart, but never does." That's much like my experience reading the end of this story. It jumps the rails, for sure - heads in a direction I hadn't expected at all - but amazingly, it all feels right. It fits the characters, and it fits the story. But it wouldn't have the same crackle if it didn't feel chancey - the roll of the dice is a big part of what makes it so exciting.

These final pages pull an amazing double-act, revealing a character arc we didn't see coming before, making a drastic change to the story, and yet a necessary one, one that feels inevitable once you've read the sequence. And the final page... it's just amazing. Kind of thing that leaves you with a big, heavy sigh waiting in your chest. As I said of the first issue, "I don’t know whether to shudder or smile as I read these pages, and if I find myself doing both, it’s a thoroughly enjoyable contradiction." Davidson and Buell keep that vibe going right to the last drop, and I haven't been so emotionally taken with a comic in a long time. See, what these guys understand is that it's kinda boring to tell a story that's only sad, or only inspiring, or a story that includes the gamut of emotions but segments each one into different scenes. Here, we get it all at once; the complexity and interaction of the emotions being evoked give the reader a feeling of fullness, and a feeling of satisfaction that isn't often achieved. It's a marvelous accomplishment.



The first fourteen pages are up at the book's website, and I urge you to take a look. The book should also be available soon from the Lost In The Dark webstore. This is fantastic comics. Seriously. I want everybody to read this.

Stay tuned Monday for my favorite discovery of APE 2006!

11 Comments:

  • At 12:13 AM, Anonymous iwishicouldquiteyouguys said…

    i saw that book at the APE show also and i have got to say, Steve and Jeff are two fine peices of ass. I would so go brokeback mountain on those guys.

     
  • At 10:24 AM, Anonymous S said…

    Who let Macnamara on this thing?

     
  • At 11:14 AM, Blogger Sean Maher said…

    Steve gives you that "warm lover" vibe, too.

     
  • At 5:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Very nice! I found a place where you can
    make some nice extra cash secret shopping. Just go to the site below
    and put in your zip to see what's available in your area.
    I made over $900 last month having fun!
    make extra money

     
  • At 4:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Very nice! I found a place where you can
    make some nice extra cash secret shopping. Just go to the site below
    and put in your zip to see what's available in your area.
    I made over $900 last month having fun!
    make extra money

     
  • At 1:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Very nice! I found a place where you can
    make some nice extra cash secret shopping. Just go to the site below
    and put in your zip to see what's available in your area.
    I made over $900 last month having fun!
    make extra money

     
  • At 8:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Very nice! I found a place where you can
    make some nice extra cash secret shopping. Just go to the site below
    and put in your zip to see what's available in your area.
    I made over $900 last month having fun!
    make extra money

     
  • At 6:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Very nice! I found a place where you can
    make some nice extra cash secret shopping. Just go to the site below
    and put in your zip to see what's available in your area.
    I made over $900 last month having fun!
    make extra money

     
  • At 11:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    To be a upright lenient being is to procure a philanthropic of openness to the far-out, an ability to guardianship aleatory things beyond your own control, that can govern you to be shattered in uncommonly exceptionally circumstances for which you were not to blame. That says something exceedingly outstanding with the prerequisite of the ethical compulsion: that it is based on a trust in the uncertain and on a willingness to be exposed; it's based on being more like a shop than like a jewel, something fairly dainty, but whose mere item beauty is inseparable from that fragility.

     
  • At 11:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    n every tom's existence, at some dated, our inner pep goes out. It is then burst into passion at near an encounter with another magnanimous being. We should all be glad recompense those people who rekindle the inner inspiration

     
  • At 6:31 PM, Blogger mmjiaxin said…

Post a Comment

<< Home

 
FREE hit counter and Internet traffic statistics from freestats.com