The Magical Land of Childhood Trauma: Should You Be Reading ‘The Fiction’?
When you look at the sheer range and number of original stories being told in comics form today, it’s hard to imagine a better time to be a comics reader. Online and in print, from all around the world, artists and writers are telling stories with their own voices and styles, and there’s so much to choose from that it’s sometimes difficult to know what to read next. With Should I Be Reading… ?, ComicsAlliance hopes to offer you a guide to some of the best original ongoing comics being published today.
In Curt Pires and David Rubin's The Fiction for Boom Studios, a magical book makes the imaginary real, and two lifelong friends re-enter the fantastic world it contains in search of two more of their group who disappeared into The Fiction. The "Step Into a Good Book" library program might want to work out a new campaign.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
As children, a group of four friends discover a chest of books that transport them to a fictional world populated by characters from those stories, where the quartet experience the kinds of grand and wonderful adventures they'd only read about. Like in all of those stories, this fantasy world has a dark side. When their friend Tsang vanishes on a routine outing into The Fiction, the remaining three --- Tyler, Kassie, and Max --- cover up his disappearance and try as hard they can to forget the wonder, promise, and danger of the world contained in its pages.
Fifteen years later, when the malign side of the fantasy comes back for Tyler, it's up to Kassie and Max to confront their past, reconcile their screwed-up childhood, and once again step into The Fiction.
WHO'S IT BY?
Emerging as a very fascinating voice in comics, Curt Pires is working his way up quickly through the ranks. After the cult success of the self-released LP, the wild and adventurous Theremin for Monkeybrain, and POP for Dark Horse, Pires is getting a reputation for his unconventional concepts and cleverly-written characters. He approaches familiar themes and ideas in unique ways, with The Fiction being another great example. There have been a few stories like The Fiction, but none quite like this.
David Rubin's name may be unfamiliar to those strictly concerned with the mainstream, but the indie/Euro scene has been abuzz about him for a while now, especially after the visceral and intense retelling of Beowulf with Santiago Garcia. His lines are thick and elegant, with kinetic flourishes reminiscent of Paul Pope, and textures that recall Rafael Albuquerque. He's equally adept at light and cartoony as he is dark and violent, a skill that comes in especially handy on The Fiction.
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL?
Michael Garland. As the colorist for The Fiction, Garland is practically stealing the show, with a vibrant digital palette that articulates the world with tonal clarity more often seen in top-tier children's animation. The story shifts repeatedly, from the mundane world to the fantastic one, from present to memory, and Garland gives each modality its own personality, providing a rich layer of emotional cues that highlight the best aspects of Rubin's art and draw out the themes of Pires's story.
Obviously, The Fiction is a metaphor for childhood trauma and the reclamation of power, but Pires, Rubin, and Garland pull it off in such a way that you don't really care how obvious it is. There's a great sense of balance in The Fiction, between the heaviness of the allegory and the energy of the story; between the pure and the ominous. As Kassie and Max confront their blocked-out memories and sins of omission, the light-hearted moments are still imbued with traces of the ominous; the most frightening moments maintain an air of wonderment. A fantasy about the repercussions of abuse and neglect, The Fiction is nonetheless energetic and adventurous, like any good return-to-never-never-land should be.
WHO SHOULD READ IT?
The Fiction should resonate with anybody over the age of 21 who ever read a children's story. More specifically, for fans of Unwritten, The Sandman, and Stephen King's It.
WHERE CAN I READ IT?
The first three issues are already out, but they don't spontaneously combust upon exposure to oxygen, so you should still have enough time to get caught up before the fourth and final issue of the run. Buy them digitally or head to your local sequential art boutique.