Therefore Repent!: It's a little late, isn't it?
Another one on the digital surf this morning, quite enjoyed this for my morning coffee, found it really articulate and of course very flattering. It's by Chicago blogger Matthew Brady [not Mat of Newsarama], a regular contributer to Indie Pulp, ComiPress & Comics Bulletin
Therefore Repent!: It's a little late, isn't it?
By Matthew Brady :) posted March 20, 2008
Written by Jim Munroe
Art by Salgood Sam
So, that "rapture" part of Christian mythology is kind of disturbing, isn't it (I mean, aside from all the other disturbing stuff in the Bible)? Everybody good (with the definition of "good" meaning you agree to say God exists, or whatever) gets sucked up into the sky, leaving everybody else behind, rejected, ignored, and pretty much left to kill each other and rot in hell. Good times! Jim Munroe and Salgood Sam explore a post-rapture world in this freaky graphic novel, and it's a weird, ugly place. For some reason, people seem to have developed magical abilities, and an army of angels outfitted in combat gear is going around killing anybody who practices this "witchcraft". Swell! In the middle of all this are a young couple known only as Mummy and Raven, so called because he wears bandages all over his body and she wears a bird mask over her head. They wander into one of the suburbs of Chicago (but not as far out in the boondocks as the place where I live) and take up residence, getting to know the people in the neighborhood, including a Korean kid who runs his family liquor store, the owner of a local bar, and a couple lesbians who run an interdimensional communications business called "She-mail". Also, their dog starts talking, and Raven starts developing strange ash-controlling powers. Who knows what's going on with this strange world.
So it's a fascinating, rich world that Munroe and Sam have created, but I did find it a bit hard to follow at times. A lot of the story is left up to the reader to infer, or references events and relationships that we don't see. Part of this might be due to the fact that the book is a sort of sequel to Munroe's novel An Opening Act of Unspeakable Evil (which began life as a series of faux blog posts, which are still online). Munroe also did a sort of prequel comic with artist Michel Lacomb (also viewable online). So it's not a completely standalone work, but I was able to follow it well enough, especially when it all came together for a very satisfying ending.
But really, I found the best part of the book to be Salgood Sam's art. I've seen his work before on the Image vampire-pirate series Sea of Red, but I didn't think too much of it. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't especially distinctive or interesting to me either. But here, he's working on a whole new level, sumptuously detailing dingy environments, expressive characters, and fantastical creatures. Being a sort of Chicago native, I loved seeing his work with cityscapes (and his depiction of the infamous "bean" sculpture in Millenium Park):
His depictions of animals are also great; the dog, who is a fairly major character, is expressive and even emotive while not seeming cartoony or anthropomorphized. He also comes up with some great layouts, like this dynamic shot of angels deploying:
And I even find the "less-readable" layouts fascinating:
There are at least three different scenes sort of melting into each other there, and I'm not sure how it all works, but it's so well put-together, I keep coming back to it. I especially like the thick, but not oppressive, shading, which adds a nice texture to everything. The character work is pretty great too; I love the girl's expression in this bit: It makes for a funny/sad scene, and those nicely-defined and -detailed characters make for a good, human grounding to Munroe's crazy world. Finally, I wanted to point out one last bit that wowed me, in which Raven and Mummy have a shared vision that takes the form of the drawings in Mummy's notebook: It's an effective shift from Sam's normal pencil-shaded style, and the sudden "open-ness" of the art is striking and effective. Nice.
So, yeah, I definitely dug this book. Any perceived storytelling deficiencies that I felt while reading were assuaged by the excellent ending, and the exquisite artwork (and well-drawn characters and fully-realized world) kept me going until then. It makes for a really good book, and I definitely recommend it to anybody who is interested in something a little bit outside the mainstream. Good job, guys.
Labels: News, repent press, reviews, Therefore Repent
posted by max at 3/21/2008 06:39:00 PM
Art Blog By Bob says Laughed Behind
My mindless minions of borrowed spiders coughed this up this morning, a great Review by Bob, on his blog! I really liked this one...
Both scarier and funnier than a library full of only Left Behind novels, Jim Munroe and Salgood Sam's Therefore Repent!: A Post-Rapture Graphic Novel asks the disturbing question: "What if the religious right... are actually right?" Set in a post-rapture world, when Heaven's non-elect are left behind to pick up the pieces after the "chosen" have ascended to their just rewards, Therefore Repent! imagines a world in which magical powers become commonplace and the same pre-rapture biases and prejudices rule the day.
Where else but Canada could such a work come from? First published by No Media Kings in Canada and now brought to America by IDW Publishing, Therefore Repent! takes aim at the fundamentalist foibles of the American Christian Right with withering satire. When "Dubya Almighty," as one character calls him, appears on a television news broadcast to discuss his post-rapture tour of the Red States, Bush spins wildly in response to the question of why he himself has been left behind. When Bush refers to the faux Jesus beside him as "Mr. Christ," it's laugh out loud funny as well as cry in your pillow sad, especially if you're an American surrounded by the consequences of conservative "religion."
One good aspect of the post-rapture world is the availability of good housing vacated by the chosen. Raven and Mummy, the two main characters of Therefore Repent!, find themselves a new home in the chaos of the aftermath (above). Although basic services are spotty at best, a number of "splitters," those who believe in a second round of rapture to pick up those who needed to atone during the "tribulation" period before ascending, keep hope alive and the wheels of society turning to a degree. Munroe and Maxim Douglas (Salgood Sam's real name) create a credible incredible world of "radical splitters" performing the miracles of Jesus, talking dogs, and sibylesque figures who replace e-mail with "she-mail." Like Milton's Lucifer in the early sections of Paradise Lost, this depiction of "evil" seems infinitely more interesting and fun than the world of the holy rollers. If you'd "rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints," post-rapture Earth and America seems not so bad, at least for a while. Douglas' edgy, almost grimy black and white images compose the perfect atmosphere for this magical realm set in all too familiar places.
Unfortunately, the powers of religious bigotry remain strong after the rapture, and perhaps even gain strength in the vacuum of legitimate authority. Military figures with angels' wings (above) wreck vengeance on the unfaithful practicing "black" magic. Militiamen calling themselves "God's Faithful" decide who lives and dies based on their personal creed. In these passages, Munroe and Douglas reveal the roots of the destructive tendencies of the Christian Right in America and their ties to other wings of conservatism such as the militia movement and just how deep those roots go. Of course, Therefore Repent! is fantasy, but only in fantasy can you find the license to connect the dots in such profound and illuminating ways. Therefore Repent! is social commentary disguised as fantasy literature. "It's just a comic book," they say, allowing these ideas to get under the radar in a way that more mainstream media no longer provides.
Therefore Repent! begins by quoting the Bible passage from which the title is taken. "Therefore repent!" says Revelations 2:16. "If you do not, I will come to you soon and fight against them with the sword of my mouth." In Therefore Repent!, Munroe and Douglas use the "sword" of their mouth and pen to fight against those crippling America under the weight of their right-wing prejudices codified in religious language. Those who need to repent are not the sinners but the "saints" who have taken their country down a very strange and twisted path leading to the violence of illegitimate wars and legitimized torture. In Therefore Repent!, we receive a valuable Bible lesson that questions the nature of what it is to be God's chosen and who has the right to do the choosing.
Labels: News, press, repent press, reviews, Therefore Repent
posted by max at 3/21/2008 05:36:00 AM
011 of Dream Life
posted by max at 3/20/2008 01:01:00 AM
finally got a bit of coloring done on dream life today. been so crazy busy, so many emails to get back to, stuff to mail out....ack....
Labels: "Dream Life", ack, Art, Comics, illustrations
posted by max at 3/14/2008 10:54:00 PM
A slide show of the working folder for batch of historical morality tale illo's I'm working on right now.
Labels: Art, illustrations
posted by max at 3/02/2008 04:55:00 AM