Thursday, April 26, 2012
That's the first story in Mark Rudolph's Closing Doors and Other City Yarns. It's a really powerful tale in large part because, even though it's specifically about Elvin Cherry and his record shop, it's not at all difficult to see any number of other stores facing the same issues. The story isn't meant as an analogy, I don't think, and that's part of what it makes it so powerful; it's a very specific story with very specific emotions about a very specific situation. It just happens to be readily transferable to so many others that we've seen over the years. The comic shop, the antique toy store, the bike shop, the diner... You've been in these places, some recently, some years ago, and many of them have gone away. It's easy to step in to Elvin's record shop, even if you were never even much of a music fan.
The book also houses two other stories: "Through the Cracks" and "Say It With Slugs." One is about a retired musician who is reporting a robbery to a police officer, and the other is a cub news reporter who stumbles onto a corruption scandal that's trying to be kept under wraps. Both of these stories are very good, but don't contain quite the emotional raw power of "Closing Doors." Definitely not to discredit Rudolph's ability, but he sets his own standard pretty high with "Closing Doors." The art and storytelling are top notch throughout, and it's primarily the deep emotional content of the first story that makes it stand out.
The one art portion I'll criticize is a change in tonal techniques part-way through. The earlier portions are done with what looks like an ink wash. Mid-story it switches to more consistent and harder-edged tones; I'm guessing this is from computer shading. While the ink wash doesn't reproduce particularly well here, the texture it provides is very warm and provides some depth to the environment. The computer shading, while not bad, doesn't add as much richness to the story, particularly the buildings and backgrounds. It would hardly be worth mentioning, except seeing how much the ink wash adds in the same book makes me wish it had all been done in the same manner.
"Closing Doors" and "Say It With Slugs" can be read for free on Rudolph's site, or the book can be purchased for $9.99 via Indy Planet.