THE PEOPLE INSIDE
By Ray Fawkes
It’s been an hour since I’ve finished this. I want to get something down. I’m not together enough to do a serious critical piece. I’m not even sure I can write a review.
So I’ll write a recommendation.
This killed me. I actually verbalised a “No” at a plot turn, in a direct and uncontrollable way. And then I did it again. I’m sitting there, saying NO at the book, in a mute protestation of this is not how I want life to be. I simultaneously recognise its truth. Truths. The plural matters.
THE PEOPLE INSIDE is Ray Fawkes’ spiritual sequel to his ONE SOUL. ONE SOUL followed 24 stories, simultaneously, each set across all human history, each story getting a single panel in the double-page spread grid. That’s pretty fancy.
THE PEOPLE INSIDE takes a lot of the formal brilliance of ONE SOUL and adds more heart, pain and more things to say about humanity, specifically the parts related to love, sex and death. Oh – and more formal brilliance. For a moment, you think he’s repeating the structure of ONE SOUL, but you rapidly realise he’s actually building on it. I finished ONE SOUL enormously impressed at the virtuosity of it and amazed that Ray had pulled it off. I finished THE PEOPLE INSIDE genuinely wondering “How!?!?”
Once again, this follows twenty-four characters, but they’re all working in the same time period. We see them fall in love, fall out of love, fall apart, fall together. With a cast so large, we juxtapose these stories and people to create the complex ironies that speaking about life in any meaningful way demands. Yes, this is true, but this is also true and this is also true and all this is true and we’re all stuck in the grid – and grids always look like cages to me – and WTF is it all about anyway?
It’s about love, sex and death.
The enormous cast allows that multiplicity. There is no normality here, but life in its many ways of being, all – thanks to the democracy of the grid – being treated with equal prominence. Gay or straight, sadists or saints, a myriad ways of loving (and failing to love) are explored. Each double-page spread implicitly says all these are the same, a fractured prism of life being lived (or not).
For being a more complicated book than ONE SOUL, it’s also a more accessible one. It breaks you in gently, starting the cast all in couples, all these kisses (or not) lined up. You get to know them, and see how they link together. When we’re familiar, the complexity grows, and the whole cast marches off together towards oblivion.
It does a lot of things. It unpicks the concept of happy endings, while not falling into straight nihilism. It shows joy with nuclear intensity, and undercuts it with loss. It shows life as complex, recognises its fundamental, final sadness, and then still basically gives it a positive review on amazon. Characters destroy one another without realising. Characters destroy each other with realising. All love is transformative here, and all loss of love equally an event of self-annihilation (“Hell is other people”). Characters become someone else, even when they seem exactly the same to the world around them. We touch each other even when we don’t mean to. We’re not alone even when are.
It’s a masterpiece of the form and form. You would want it for that alone, but I think with this one Ray has nailed something much bigger than that. I want to spend the whole day pulling out individual panels and posting them, knowing that doing so would be utterly deceptive. Yes, it’s a book of chosen moments, but it’s a book of juxtaposition between all those moments, a book of limitations and a book of change. You owe it to yourself to read it. If you’ve read a better comic this year, I want your reading list. For me, I can’t think of a comic that has me in the gut as hard since… I KILL GIANTS, maybe? It feels a strange comparison, because for all THE PEOPLE’S INSIDE’s emotional content, it’s not that big sad pop song of a book. This is post-punk, arty, complicated. It’s great. I’m bitterly jealous. I’m impossibly excited. The world is an amazing place. The world is doomed. It’s amazing. I love you all.
This was so good that I’ve only just realised I’ve forgotten to feed my cat.
Out This Week: God Is Dead: Omega
Late in doing this, but been a hell of a week. It’s been a “not replying to people trying to give me free money” kind of week. However, if you’re passing comic shops…
I contributed a story to the GOD IS DEAD comics. It’s a short story – 11 pages, I believe – about ALASTOR: HELL’S EXECUTIONER, who’s a character I’ve had kicking around for a while who I wanted to take out for a spin. In short: utterly horrible James Bond in hell, who is about as sex positive as he is murder positive. It’s very silly, and very NSFW.
If you want some more, including some (NSFW!) preview art, have a nose down the Alastor tag on my tumblr.
My story is a stand alone which doesn’t even really rest in anything other than GOD IS DEAD’s high concept.
Young Avengers Omnibus Pre-order Cut Off
It was brought to my attention that the collection of our (Jamie, Matt, Me, Clayton, Everyone Else Who Threw In) Young Avengers run has its orders cut off this week. I believe they’re in on Monday.
In other words, if you want to make sure of a copy, you should speak to your retailer to ensure they order one.
These ominbuses tend to be printed relatively tight, and reprints are rare, so if it’s something you want, it’s best to make moves to get one now.
(Or pre-order from an online retailer, which should do the same thing)
Don’t know how to pre-order from a shop?
I always think music is a better model for videogames than film: individual series of games can be thought of as performers, reaching a feverish apex of popularity before settling into comfortable grooves and hoping for the rare, Kylie Minogue-like creative resurgence.
What’s unusual about music is that most of its critical discourse revolves around pop. It’s not because pop music is what’s popular – though that helps – but because pop is obsessed with the new. It’s an eclectic, hybrid genre, grabbing new sounds, new ideas, new fashion from wherever it can, subsuming what it needs and discarding the rest. When pop finishes with an idea, that idea either dies or it calcifies as its own genre and people stop talking about it.
In short, Assassin’s Creed is now the adult contemporary of videogames. Assassin’s Creed: Unity is Michael Bolton.
Here’s the second thing: this is not a criticism. This is how it’s supposed to work. Graham Smith on Assassin’s Creed: Unity. Follows the argument through. I think for critics writing in the mainstream and demi-mainstream press, this is pretty much essential reading.
Anonymous said: I feel so useless sitting here. What can I do to help Ferguson??
national moment of silence 2014 (for victims of police brutality)
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