When I picked up Local from my library, I knew instantly that I was in for a treat. There’s something about a graphic novel that’s lovingly constructed. Do you know what I mean? Heavy paper, deep, ink drawings (or beautiful color work), a sturdy cover and a cover illustrations that perfectly captures what the entire book is about but that doesn’t reuse any old image from inside. I know that’s a silly request. It is a book full of images! Why shouldn’t they use one that is already in there?
Well, because there is more to the story than that. In the same way that a book cover of a traditional novel is an extension of the story, so too should the cover of a comic be an extension of that story. It’s no easy feat to come up with one complete image that stands for the entire story, but Local‘s cover is perfect.
Local was a serialized comic that has been collected in an omnibus, which is the edition I read. Originally intended to be about different places across the country, Local eventually took on the narrative of Megan, a young girl who can’t seem to stay in one spot for very long. Essentially these are stand alone stories about Megan’s life, or sometimes about the people in Megan’s life, that are all connected by the desire to find a place that we create for ourselves, that is our own.
The comic is perfectly researched. I have only ever seen one of the cities in here, Richmond, VA, but judging just based on how perfect the Kelly got the Plan 9 storefront, I can safely assume that other cities were equally well-researched. Like most collections of short stories, there were comics that I liked better than others. My favorite was probably The Younger Generation, where Megan has grown up a little bit and is faced with a young woman not unlike herself 10 years ago. I also enjoyed Polaroid Boyfriend, The Last Lonely Days at the Oxford Theater, and Theories and Defenses (the comic that takes place in Richmond).
But those were just my favorites and the ones that played to my particular sensibilities when it comes to comics. Thereis a lot to love here, for all kinds of comic readers. As for Kelly’s art, I loved the way he drew Megan. You could tell that he had spent a lot of time with her and knew her every facial expression and he knew how to illustrate her movements. That being said, sometimes I had a hard time distinguishing between the male characters. There is one point when we see them all next to each other and I can tell the difference, but when their story lines were separated, once in a while I got confused. It never bothered me enough to take me out of the story, though. Kelly’s style is well-defined and makes beautiful use of shading and negative space. I’m always impressed by the way black and white comics manage to create such depth with no color.
An added bonus to this collection of Local is the endnotes. For each story, Kelly and Wood talk about the story and what it was like to write it or illustrate it. Also included is a collection of renditions of Megan by other artists and the covers for each of the issues of Local. It was a real treat. I will definitely be reading more of Wood and Kelly’s work in the future.
So go read this!: now | tomorrow | next week | next month | next year | when you’ve exhausted your TBR pile
Have you read and reviewed Local by Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly? If so, add your link in the comments and I’ll add it here.