First, I want to remind you that Fantasy Book Cafe is running a month long feature of Women In Science Fiction and Fantasy. The list of books to read is absolutely monumental. Go. Read that Awesome Sauce over there. http://www.fantasybookcafe.com/
To tangentially add to Fantasy Cafe’s month long celebration of Women in SF&F, I wanted to share a serendipitous find from the library.
I’ve been idly picking up and flipping through graphic novels lately, thanks to encouragement from Chuck Parker and also a barrage postcards from Kathleen in addition to her post last month.
This one! This one is the One For Me!
Carla Speed McNeil writes a comic strip called Finder. It has been going since the ’90s (!). To boot, it’s a science fiction! How much more delicious could this get?
The first book by which I discovered this artist was Talisman. I spent a long time reading and digesting this relatively short graphic novel, figuring out who this author/artist is, getting my bearings in this Finder Universe. It was so cool to …read isn’t the right word… to be a tourist in this book, to generate a mental map of McNeil’s universe and bibliography. I’ve since read Voice and have found a copy of the doorstopper Finder Library Vol 1.
When Marcella was very young, a friend of the family read a story to her over and over again from a book he gifted to her.
The book is later lost, but she can’t let go of the magical transcendence of that story. It becomes an obsession for her, a Palace of Memories.
Her bi- or maybe trans-gender brother/sister Lynn is her guide and wise-one in this quest to find her lost book.
Turns out that she’s going to have to write her lost story, and she has to re-connect somehow with her childhood magic to do so, not unlike the science fictional element of hooking-in to view a movie or other entertainment.
In Marcella and Lynn’s world, paper and handwriting are a relic of the past, and thus the very tools with which she must reconstruct her story are parts of the Palace of Memories.
I like McNeil’s clear drawings, her consistent and relentless references to other works of science fiction and fantasy, and her way of telling a story through both comic-style panels and large, full page …ech, I dunno what they’re properly called…illustrations, collages? Anyway, they’re cool.
I love, too, McNeil’s notes in the back. Here, she reveals insider info about her own train of thought when composing a sequence, details about this futuristic universe she’s created in Finder, and citations for the quotes throughout.
Graphic novels are not Books With Pictures, and this Finder series by Carla Speed McNeil really takes storytelling to a whole other level, making the art part of the language of the story.