Written & Art by Carla Speed McNeil
Published by Lightspeed Press
Notes: This story arc comprises issues 19-21 of the Finder series. They were originally available as separate issues, and were also published as a three-pack. This three-pack includes a set of footnotes for all three issues. Issue 19 was nominated for an Eisner for Best Single Issue.
My Verdict: Brilliant.
In an aside to the ongoing storyline, a young girl named Marcie deals with the usual pains of being young, which in her case includes a father who's bedridden and prone to fits of shouting and thrashing about. Her only escape and solace is in the form of a book brought to her and read to her by a friend of the family.
It's not out of the ordinary to read a decent comic book. You know what I mean. It's the kind where you don't feel like you wasted your coin on the book, you're sated. It's rarer that you get a comic book that you think is just excellent. It's so cool that you just want to run around, bothering your non-comics reading friends with it, until they run you off with their strange looks. What's really rare, though, is a book that transcends the medium. The fact that what you are reading is a comic book loses all meaning and you devour the thing like the latest novel by your favorite author, and you love it like that album that got you through that bad break-up in college. In short, the book does what many books simply aren't able to do: it moves you.
Talisman not only moved me personally, it made me angry at the way the industry works. Now, let me say that this is my intro to this series. I have only a spotty notion of the rest of the series has involved; I was clued into this three-pack via Warren Ellis' Ordering Comics website. But I can tell you, that there's no reason why any writers and bibliophiles you know wouldn't cherish this book--because it tells a story we as a group can all relate to.
The Promethea issue that took the Eisner--I thought at the time that I read that Alan Moore ish that it was brilliant and clever and all those amazing things, and it was the most well thought out book I'd read in some time. But Finder should have won. It is a more important work. And here's why.
I can't see Promethea, as cool as that series is and as cool as that individual issue was, bringing in any new converts into our little dying world of comics readers. If Talisman could somehow reach the masses, I feel somehow we would get them thinking that maybe there really is more to be had in this medium. It's not just excellent writing. The arc has substance, it has weight, and it can affect on a personal, emotional level. I'm trying to think of the last Batman book that did that. Or X-Men. Nope. Sorry. No takers here.
It doesn't matter that Finder takes place in this quasi-scifi society of plugging in to movies or their version of the Net, or that there are clans of people who have different tendencies. McNeil's characters are real. You've met them. You might be related to some of them.
Her art serves the story perfectly--simple when it needs to be, more complex when that's called for. And the footnotes offer a glimpse into her head so we can see where some of these bits came from--and the additional info regarding the world we're reading about is welcome but not crucial to enjoying the story at hand.
I give my highest recommendation for this arc. If you've been dying for comics that feed your soul, then buy these and support this creator. Otherwise, you deserve whatever crap the major players want to throw at you.
QUOTE: "Magic. I want magic. I want magic that works. There is no doctor that can make the creature back into my daddy. No therapy that can make him into what he should have been...I need my fantasy. I need memory and dream. Reading is my anesthetic. It isn't enough. I pour books into myself and there are never enough. They're gone too fast, like paper on a bonfire."
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