Tuesday 23 September 2008

New This Week.....Local

Local, from Oni Press, is written by Brian Wood with art by Ryan Kelly. Having missed the series in comics, I wanted to read it before it arrived but once it arrived and I held it in my hands, the need-to-read factor rose by 50% because it's such an impressive looking book. Seriously. Pop in to the shop and I defy you not to want pick it up.

Firstly, it's hardcover which is always a draw. At 376 pages, its fat too, including twenty pages of artist and writer notes. The cover is not only nicely drawn but also fantastically colored with the lower half picture in a silvery grey. And it has silver lettering on the spine. All for £20 my friend.

And the content? Each chapter is a low-concept, slice of life story featuring in a lead role, or sometimes just a cameo, a character called Megan. The twist is that each chapter takes place in a different city in the US with a year having passed between each vignette. That's the twist, the sleight of hand is that Megan's character story/development is there for us regardless of how little she features in a particular chapter. It's not a particularly pleasant character at times, but that's the journey she's physically and emotionally making. The black and white withe a grey tone artwork is very Paul Pope-like but has a confidence to it and places each story very nicely. Ryan Kelly also captures Megan as she ages during a period in ones life (the twenties) where physical changes are usually subtle.

It's about searching for a place to call home, a local state and ultimately the character finds herself in a place that she and maybe she alone would feel comfortable in.

A commendably ambitious project and I enjoyed the end result, but the point is, as a punter, Oni had me with "hello" by making the book look special. It feels as if Oni are saying "we really love this book" and with so much to download for free nowadays, and with so many titles now available as opposed to even ten, fifteen years ago, maybe this is the level of care and attention that publishers need to show to produce a desirable product. SLS

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