Friday, January 10, 2014

Everything Together - Sammy Harkham and another small update
I'm late to the Harkham party. I didn't discover his works until mid-2012? I think. But it was a revelation and I made a huge effort to try to find and read everything by him. Then PictureBox stepped into the equation, heard my call for a collection of his works, thought it a good idea and did it. I bought it when it came out but I didn't read it until the end of 2013. The reason for that is....... I don't know but I'm glad I finally got around to reading. Together is a collection of Harkham's comic short stories. In this collection, we read stories about a relationship that's at the peak of its downfall, Napoleon trying to make a funny strip, the daily life of a religious scroll writer, and a number of other down-to-earth mixed with absurdity stories. As you can read, the tone and mood of these stories can vary  heavily.

I'm a huge fan of short stories. A lot of the prose I read is short stories, so I was excited to delve into this collection. I think short stories are a form that is very hard to master. It demands a lot from its writer: being economical with you plotting, your words, your characters your ideas/themes and distilling them into their essentials while giving them a nuanced and complex take. Harkham is able to pull all that off with ease. Some stories only take a whole page while others take only half a page or less.
A good amount of his stories seems to jump right in the middle of change. Whether that's change in a character's relationship with someone else or to the world around them or within themselves. These changes bring a lot of strong emotions, and we get to see those emotions/changes play out. But Harkham doesn't elevate or melodrama them. He makes them very down-to-earth and makes them feel like every day. That these feelings and changes are a part of life and that we shouldn't be surprised by them. That's this is life and these things occur to everyone. I enjoy that subtle and subdued take on situations in which other writers would heavily dramatize them.

Harkham's linework is a treat for the eyes. It's great to see his linework and his ability to express his character's inner turmoil and more nuanced feelings get better and better with each story. We're reading a cartoonist hone his tool kits, his narratives, and characters, and distil them to their absolute essentials; it's beautiful to see.

A small update: I'm trying to post as much as I can but school is going to be starting up soon. So, my posts will be a bit few and far. What I mean by that is instead of trying to do every day, I'm going for once or twice or three times out of the week. I'm going to do my most damn to keep this blog alive because there are numerous amounts of books and comics and film I want to share with you all.

So I leave you with some Kris Kristofferson and do yourself a favor and go buy Everything Together

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