Page 45 Review by Stephen
1932: "I lost my wallet."
1923: "I must have left the umbrella somewhere."
2008: "I think I'm losing my mind."
500,000 BC: You are currently on the coast. Tectonic plates will need to shift somewhat before that house even gets built.
I have never seen anything like this in my life
Six pages of this were originally published in Spiegelman's RAW back in 1989. Thirty-five years later: here, have 200+ pages of something so current it could even be Chris Ware.
Every single shot on every single double-page spread takes place from the same vantage point: the corner of one particular room. The camera angle moves not once. However, there are two things to bear in mind:
1) That house has not always stood there.
2) Different things happen in different parts of that room during different periods of time. How interesting would it be to marry those events in separate panels on the same double-page spread?
I think this is one of those "Seeing is believing" books which I may have to show you on the shop floor. It's a bit like Ray Fawkes' equally inventive ONE SOUL and THE PEOPLE INSIDE in that respect.
The story weaves backwards and forwards in time as the various inhabitants move in, move out, take family photographs, grow up, grow old or break down. Exterior shots (remember, that house has not always stood there) are startling and rendered in rough-hewn pencil, wash or colour flats. Same goes for the inhabitants whether inside or out. But the interior shots of the room itself are all very much matt, colour flats with only the ever-changing wallpaper boasting any patterned line. It's beautiful - absolutely exquisite.
'Life' and 'Time' magazines lie side by side on one tableau's coffee table which seems - in this context - a very funny joke to me.
Exchanges or reflections may sound familiar:
"You find yourself singing a song
"Then you realise the lyrics are the perfect commentary on your thoughts. Your subconscious has selected them like a jukebox."
That happened to me the other day with Leonard Cohen and Sharon Robinson's 'In My Secret Life' - which I guess is no longer so secret.
A lit fireplace at night in 1955 stood out as surprising, snug and warm; especially since in the inset 1986 panel a couple look coldly away from each other. I don't suppose they lasted long there.
One page is given over to the multitude of insults thrown over the years.
I cannot be sure what is happening in 1777 but I have some very nasty suspicions.
Highly commended then, with all my soul: this is a graphic novel which will really make you reflect.
P.S. Dear publisher: comics is a medium, not a genre.