Here by Richard McGuire (illus.)
Here is Richard McGuire’s unique graphic novel based on the legendary 1989 comic strip of the same name.
Richard McGuire’s groundbreaking comic strip Here was published under Art Spiegelman’s editorship at RAW in 1989.
Built in six pages of interlocking panels, dated by year, it collapsed time and space to tell the story of the corner of a room – and its inhabitants – between the years 500,957,406,073 BC and 2313 AD.
The strip remains one of the most influential and widely discussed contributions to the medium, and it has now been developed, expanded and reimagined by the artist into this full-length, full-colour graphic novel – a must for any fan of the genre.
Here is so far the most unique graphic novel I’ve read. The title fits it well. The story focuses on a section of a room and shows us how it has changed over time: from prehistoric days when dinosaurs roamed the earth, to Colonial times, to modern day, to what the room could be in the future.
Not only does the story show us what the section of the room was used for, but also what happened there: a moment between lovers, a heart attack/stroke, a flood. In essence, we are given the history of a space.
I thought that was pretty cool and as I read, I wondered about the history of the spaces I occupy: what were they before I used them and how were they used; what will they become when I leave them and how will they be used. How will my presence affect the space’s history?
Here does a great job of showing that nothing remains constant; all things change. It brings awareness to the present by urging its readers to consider the past and how current actions will affect the future.
There are illustrations, but I’d say this graphic novel is a collage of images. Though the technique isn’t one I like, I think it fits the intention of the book. Here focuses on change and places emphasis on how ephemeral materiality in life is, and I think that is expressed in the artwork because of how it fluctuates throughout the book, throughout the years.
But I also think it amusing that though life is change and all things change and this book is about, and emphasizes, change, some things remain largely unchanged for long periods of time. In Here, that would be the ever-present (well, for most of the book) fireplace. It’s a staple of the story for much of the book and I’m always surprised when a year comes around when the fireplace isn’t present. Thus, years 1906 and 1907 are my favorite (when the house and fireplace were built).
I also like how the book is structured. I love that it’s not in chronological order because it makes the reader work and forces her to pay attention to what the story is trying to do. I also love the layout of the panels: Panels take up 2 pages and is dedicated to a year, for example the year 1986; but sometimes panels from other years are inserted within that 2-page panel; so while we observe in the 2-page panel a family seated in a living room in 1986 discussing Native Americans and historical sites, we see 2 smaller panels, one on each page, showing what Native Americans were doing in that space in 1622. Isn’t that cool?! I love that about this book.
I love it because it shows that the past isn’t static. That the present calls to and awakens it and constantly pulls it into the now. To me, this graphic novel emphasizes that time is circular rather than linear.
I’ve changed my mind on this one. I gave it 3 stars upon completing it because I wasn’t impressed and didn’t like the art. That’s why I love discussing what I read when done because now, after completing my review of it, I both appreciate and love this book.
It’s now a favorite and since I rented it from the library, I’ll need to get myself a copy. It’s one I’d love to own.
Buy | Borrow | Bypass
It’s totally worth it.