Thursday, September 6, 2007

Cross-country Flight

The latest volume of Flight has been sitting on my bookshelf for a little while now. I reviewed the previous one for the WashPost last summer so I picked it up the new one to read as I headed to San Francisco for video game stuff.

At a time when my enjoyment of the major interconnected superhero universes is becoming seriously compromised (subject of a future post if I can summon up the intestinal fortitude), these sharp, crystallized short stories remind me why I like comics so much. Lots of them are spare, wordless affairs; all of them feel intensely personal. It seems like Michel Gagne’s serialized “The Saga of Rex” continues from an episode in volume three, but I can’t remember the specifics of the previous installment.
Still, it delivers a full story with too-cute drawings and expressive characters. (A particular triumph: the orange amphibious creatures clearly all belong to the same race but Gagne is able to make them all look distinct, with different sizes of eyes, head shapes and other stuff that I can’t quite quantify now.)

[Side note: Gagné’s working on a video game called Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet. This looks like the kind of thing that’d be perfect for the PlayStation Network or Xbox Love Arcade. Hopefully, Gagne and his team will seal a deal to bring this to the masses soon.]

I also love Thomas Herpich’s “Farewell, Litle Karla” for the way it uses science-fiction tropes to parallel the tensions of going out into the world on your own. “The Forever Box” struck me with how sweet yet brooding it was and “Roomie-Pal,” “The Rabbit Mayor,” and “Igloo Head and Tree Head” made me chuckle loudly on the plane.

Flight doesn’t have a unifying universe or concept like the 24seven comics anthologies do, but neither architecture is inherently right or wrong. (It does seem like the idea of raising children or coming-of-age are unifying motifs this time around, though.)

The creators who do 24seven stories all take the robot-as-dominant-life-form conceit to such different places that they may as well be disconnected efforts. And, that’s a good thing, because the world that arises as a result feels all the more rich by virtue of these varying visions. Flight’s aggregation of aesthetics make you feel like any idea can be expressed with pictures and word balloons.

No comments: