Talisman by Carla Speed Mc Neil

Tell me you can’t identify with this:

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.

“Eee! No hook-up!”

5 thoughts on “Talisman by Carla Speed Mc Neil

  1. The illustrations you’ve shown here surely do look lovely. I don’t really read a lot of graphic novels but when I do I can just spend ages looking at each page. I’ve started reading the Sandman novels and again I could dawdle for a long time just looking at the art work.
    Lynn :D

    • Sandman is def the high-watermark in the field. Are you liking them? I found a good portion of the material to be …ah… squidgy. Violent and sad. But then there’s parts that are equally as inspiring and hopeful.

      • Wow, new layout – very nice!
        I know what you mean about the Sandman stories – it surprised me just how dark a side Gaiman has – I discovered it more in a recent collection of his short stories. Some of them I didn’t really like – just too odd!
        I think The Sandman stories allows that dark side to not seem as uncomfortable – not really explaining it very well, but having a scene written down in great detail as oppose to a graphic scene seems more disturbing for me sometimes. I think the graphics in the Sandman are amazing. But, yes, squidgy is a good way of describing some of them.
        Lynn :D

        • yeah, you’re right! This is what I’m discovering about graphic novels overall, the artist/writer will allow the art portion to further inform the story, letting the reader interpret the level of creep-itude.

  2. Pingback: TBR Campaign Initial Sort List | Darkcargo

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