Sometimes there are days when the things we do, the jobs we work and the lives we live seem to lack meaning. Days when the hate that many of us blithely choose to ignore, rears its ugly head and the laws that our governments tell us are designed to keep us safe seem only to empower the worst of us to harm their fellow man. On days like this it’s hard for me to tell you that a comic book matters, that any art really matters. When faced with loss and inaction, life itself seems to lose value.
But the truth is fiction has the power to lighten even the heaviest heart. Sometimes it does so by providing a candy coated escapist paradise that for a brief moment makes us forget this overcooked Brussels sprout of a world. At other times we travel along with sad souls who find meaning, love and connection in their final days, proving that even death itself can be joyous. Fiction shows us the destruction of evil people as a result of their own nefarious plans, making us feel good about our own “goodness”. But at its best fiction takes characters not to different from ourselves and presents them with troubles and dilemmas a hundred times more heinous than you or I will likely ever face. It has its characters look into a maw of terror and death and it shows them making choices that are decent, loving and kind. Choosing friendship and love when that friendship and love may well lead to their end. Who among us won’t take a little risk for our friends after watching Peter Parker sacrifice his body for the good of the people of New York as Spider-man? The possibility of losing your job doesn’t seem like such a big deal when compared to the number of Spider-man masks Peter lost in his many battles of the nineties(I mean seriously, it seemed like that mask was punched or exploded into a thousand pieces on a monthly basis back then).
This is the kind of story that Curt Pires sets out to tell in The Fiction releasing from Boom Studios this month, a story that much like Stephen King’s It revolves around a group of children who undergo a fantastical childhood trauma that returns to haunt them in adulthood. In the story the four children are sucked into a colorful fantasy world by incanting from a book, unfortunately before they return to our world they lose one of their number who seems to magically disappear into the multicolored wonderland. Now many years later the three childhood friends have adapted to this trauma, some by denying its existence, others have become obsessed and allow it to define their world. However when one of them happens upon a copy of the book and finds himself drawn back into that world and finds it destroyed, they each must set out on a quest to find their lost childhood friend and discover the mystery of what has happened to this colorful place.
From a storytelling standpoint it’s hard to view this first issue of The Fiction as anything more than a teaser as Pires has to set up both his fantasy world and his dilemma in just over twenty pages, leaving very little room for him to build complex characterization. This leads the reader to feel like this issue is somehow less than a full dish and more like an appetizer. However if it is just a taste or teaser, it does prove to be an appetizing one. Much like James Tynion IV’s Mimetic which Boom released in 2014 (which at least 2 of us here at Graphic Novice felt was one of the best series of last year) The Fiction starts out as more of a question than an answer, it’s vague and undefined, but at the very least the story presents itself as a question which I want to learn the answer to.
For the art aficionados out there the art by David Rubín and the colors by Michael Garland are well suited to the story that Pires is trying to tell. The pencils appear at times cartoon-y and at others stylized and rather than try to balance these two contradictory styles Rubín instead smashes through convention by using both styles in the “Real” and the “Fantasy” world, leading the reader to question exactly which one is real and which one is fantasy. The colors by Garland on the other hand are beautiful, full of deep saturation and contrast that really add detail to the fantasy world, which in this first issue is little more than an open and undefined canvas and I greatly appreciated the detail the colors added.
If you’re looking for a change of pace from the monolithic Marvel and DC grind this month The Fiction might just end up being one of the cult sleepers of 2015, give it a try.
4.0 out of 5 Stars