We got the luxury, here at AiPT, to review some older novels by Pantheon Publishing. When scrolling through the list, Here by Robert McGuire caught my eye with its truly abstract nature and perspective.
Published this past December, Here transcends time in examining a fixed point of space throughout millennia. McGuire first published Here in the form of a 36 page submission to the journal, Raw. Now, complete with 304 pages of watercolor artwork, Here can be enjoyed for readers with a taste for abstract and thought provoking graphic novels.
The novel is an introspective piece on life and relies more on the artwork than it does the writing. It lacks plot and the dialogue is sparse, but the pages are packed with meaning and emotion. It’s not the type of book you can read some of during a lunch break, or thumb through during a car ride. Here should be read through in one sitting and it’s then that you can appreciate the full effect of McGuire’s work and understand the piece’s messages.
Every page features the same physical perspective with windows into different time periods, whether it’s in the past or future. For example one page may depict a colonial setting while the next may show a couple watching television. The artwork is wonderful and the design of each page is truly innovative with some pages referencing up to five different time periods. The timelines compare and contrast how vastly human’s daily lives have changed, while other components remain constant spanning generations, whether it’s a dog barking at the door or a family posing for a holiday picture.
McGuire appears to understand the emotions the pages elicit as his work builds upon itself to create messages out of the images. Superficially, the novel may appear to be a random assortment of images and time periods, but each page is purposeful and bears significance when read alongside the other pages, similar to a music note. As you flip through the book you’re filled with this melancholy nostalgia as you witness life’s worst and greatest moments as an omnipotent spectator to generations of families.
I especially enjoyed the fact McGuire included panels that depicted the future as well as the past. It plays into the theme that life is constant that the world will continue to spin even when humans die off. The juxtaposition of Halloween costumes and elevated water levels contributes to McGuire’s “big picture” message that stays with you long after you’ve finished the piece.
Is It Good?
It’s fascinatingly inventive and one of the coolest concepts I’ve seen in a graphic novel. The artwork is beautiful and the writing is simple, but poignant. It’s extremely impactful and therefore should be read when you have an afternoon by yourself so you can fully appreciate McGuire’s work. I’ve read it three times already and I seem to find a new message or detail hidden within McGuire’s work.
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