I imagine there’s a lot of overlap between record collectors and comic collectors — the compulsion of collecting is not too far removed from addiction, after all. There’s a dopamine hit of finding that issue or that EP, and it’s all the better if it’s rare or niche, something you love that truly speaks to you.
So it doesn’t hurt that not only does What’s the Furthest Place From Here? have a rare 7” record attached to it — and that there are only so many of them to go around. But that’s by no means the only joy of the book, which celebrates the sort of love for art that feels essential in your adolescence.
In a back-of-the-issue interview, writer Matt Rosenberg puts it this way: “What bands you like, what songs you care about, those are some of the earliest moments where you define the ‘me’ to a larger world.” For those of us who mail-ordered a Jets to Brazil t-shirt, both proud of our refined taste and hoping for connections with other indie rock kids, Rosenberg touches on something felt but not often expressed.
The comic takes that feeling and ratchets it up to an extreme: in the post-apocalyptic world of Furthest Place, a tribe of youths takes refuge in a record store, and a rite of passage appears to be selecting a record as your own. Is it as a totem, is it as a coat of arms? The book doesn’t quite explain it yet, only that our primary character Sid is seeking out her own.
It might seem a little on the nose, but the book never seems ham-fisted. Instead, it becomes an emblematic shorthand as the older Prufrock takes on the familiar role of music’s Elder Guide — that more knowledgeable punk who recommends the records that are often a kid’s stepping-stone to their own sensibilities.
Being the end of the world, this record stuff isn’t the central action, but a powerful and relatable, well-loved concept to serve as the book’s central hook. In a genre flooded with zombies and viruses, the musical underground gives Furthest Place a singular tone and one that is so clearly emotionally lived-in.
The actual apocalypse appears to be a Children of the Corn meets Logan’s Run, where kids live in tribes until adulthood, after which they get excommunicated; there are consequences for harboring adults.
A tenuous pact of peace exists between our crew of record collectors and a frightening crew of kids in pig masks, and the stakes are fatal. The issue lingers in its own novel mystery, never wanting to provide too quick an answer. Instead, horrifying things are hinted at, and the reader is given ample time to get to know the punk rock oblivion culture of the crew, if not the characters within it.
The utter care for the world, that culture, and music presented by both Rosenberg and artist Tyler Boss are so evident, so exacting, that there’s barely a barrier between the reader and the world presented; you become instantly invested because it’s so clear that the creators are.
It’s a book that might mean more to those who know distinctly what Hüsker Dü songs are on that immaculately presented 7″, and for whom contributing musician Blake Schwarzenbach (whose work inspired the book’s title) already means a great deal, but it is by no means an exclusive party. Rather, it means that Rosenberg and Boss might just be those Elder Guides for their readers, ones with much wider and more forgiving tastes than some of the rigid, too-cool-for-school kids we might have dealt with.
What’s the Furthest Place From Here? is cool, but not too cool to care; it’s a destitute apocalypse that begs the reader to explore not only its mysterious world but also all the possible joys of its obscure musical tastes. It’s the sort of comic I wish existed when I was seventeen.
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