By | Friday, March 03, 2006 Leave a Comment
One of the books on my pull list is Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly's Local, published by Oni Press. The book is a series of self-contained stories about... well, people. Each issue features a vinette and shows the reader a small slice of life. The stories are unrelated and unconnected to one another. They are tied together by the appearance of the character Megan, but she's relatively incidental to the overall book. Each story is its own, and remains largely unconnected to the others. Issue three was about a small band that broke up and how they tried to move on with their lives after the breakup, but issue four is about two brothers who attempt to resolve some long-standing family issues.

I learned about Local through Neil Gorman's Comicology podcast. (Thanks, Neil!) He was really enthused by Brian Wood's writing, and I have to say that I understand why. I picked up Local #1 shortly after it came out, and was impressed enough to look for #2. By the time #3 hit the stands, I was actively looking for anything with Wood's name on it. Sure enough, I caught Supermarket #1 when it came out a couple weeks ago, and was summarily impressed.

Wood definitely has a talent for bringing a reader into a story. With each issue of Local, he has to introduce entirely new characters, put them into some compelling situation, get the audience to care/identify with the characters, and resolve whatever conflicts are at the heart of the story all within 24 pages. Let me say that I was never a big fan of the traditional short story because I had never seen anyone who could pull it off well. Everything I saw was cohesive enough and did tell a solid story, but I never could connect with the characters enough to care. Local is the first set of short stories that I've been able to do that with, and Wood's the only writer that's had that impact on me at all, not to mention that he's done that four months in a row now.

I'll say that I certainly enjoy Ryan Kelly's artwork as well. He does a solid job of storytelling (a key point that not nearly enough comic book artists get) and has an amazing consistency of character design. Each character retains the same look throughout the issue, regardless of the angle, lighting or expression. That's especially difficult with something like #4, where the antagonist is about as non-descript of a character as you could get -- a white guy in a suit. Yet, throughout the issue, it's clear that we're always looking at THE SAME white guy in a suit. Whether or not you appreciate Kelly's artistic style (which I do) you certainly can't overstate his talents as a comic artist.

So my item for the day is just too suggest looking for Local at your local comic shop. Doesn't matter what issue you get -- they're all good and you can jump into the story at any time. They're all prime examples of why I like comics as a medium more than anything else.
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