The Fiction #1
Written by Curt Pires (@CurtPires)
Illustrated by David Rubin (@davidrubin)
Colors by Michael Garland (@MichaelGarland)
Letters by Colin Bell (@colinbell)
Review by Joey Braccino
##TALKING COMICS BOOK OF THE WEEK!!! Be sure to check the podcast for the gang’s review, too!!!##
“WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?”
Cold open: a man, Tyler, clad in pajamas, slippers, and bathrobe returns downstairs to lock up before going to bed. A mysterious book floats in the window, spewing dark magic. The book opens, pages flip, and Tyler finds himself chanting lines to a story unwritten. He disappears. The book falls to the floor with a TAP!!
And that’s the hook for The Fiction #1, the latest creator-driven mini-series from BOOM! Studios. Written by Curt Pires with art by David Rubin and Michael Garland, The Fiction is a story about storytelling, the literal power of narrative to transport people to alternate realities and dimensions. I say “literal” because, in the case of The Fiction, this strange, mysterious book literally transports our protagonists to strange, mysterious alternate dimensions. After the intense, riveting cold open described above, Pires takes us back fifteen years to introduce us to a young Tyler, along with his childhood friends Kassie (our narrator), Max, and Tsang, as they hang out in the attic of a huge house. Their parents argue downstairs about mysterious, “very real” repercussions to some unknown issue. Once we get through the expected conversation about “troubled youth” and “suburban problems” of absentee parents, general malaise, etc., Tsang stumbles onto the very same book from our brief prologue.
And then the fun begins.
What follows is a gorgeous montage of dreamscapes and fictional worlds (with some cameos from your favorite literary figures), sumptuously illustrated by David Rubin and Michael Garland. The aesthetic here is best described as Hernandez Brothers meets Michael Allred as pulpy realism intersects with pop art surrealism. The montage is over before it begins—only about 3 pages in total—but we the reader are left wanting more of this fantasy, which Pires wisely parallels to the desires of the children as well.
Of course, the reason for the children’s escape from the fictional world is tragic, and it is obviously no mistake that tragedy again brings them back together again fifteen years later in the present. Tyler’s disappearance is the stimulus for Kassie (our narrator) and the others to both reevaluate their current lives and interact with the fiction once again. By issue’s end, we’re left with a very promising, very intriguing mystery. And I want more.
This, of course, speaks to Pires’ gifts as storyteller in his own right. The operant theme here is disillusionment vs. desire, and the fictional worlds and fantasies of youth quickly translate to envy and disappointment in adulthood. Kassie and company are clearly bored with their normal lives as adults, and the opportunity to revisit the fiction (despite the tragic circumstances surrounding the book) is enticing. Pires wisely allows his art team to tell much of the exposition and backing story through illustrated, silent montages, eking out just enough to keep the reader informed while allowing for a lot of space for future reveals. Some readers may be turned off by just how much is left unsaid and implicit, but given the fact that this will be a mini-series, I have a feeling The Fiction #1 will demand (and warrant) multiple readings.
And finally, I would be remiss if I failed to commend Colin Bell on the lettering. The shifts in text between the standard caps world bubbles and the inverted, antiquated lettering of the mystery book are brilliantly executed, and I’m a sucker for italicized narration.
Check it!!! The Fiction #1 is in many ways a masterclass in storytelling about storytelling, which is about as trippy as the comic itself. Well-written, well-illustrated, and well-lettered, The Fiction is another winner for BOOM!