Apr 8, 2015

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 43: Etc #1, 1989

As I mentioned while re-organizing my collection, I became (or re-became) aware of Etc through an ad in the back of an issue of Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children. I don't remember at this point exactly what the ad said that intrigued me, but when I came across the first issue while re-organizing my comics, I pulled it out to give it a go.

I was wary at the very beginning. The prologue of the piece seemed to me to be some really sloppy comics writing. The caption boxes told a story and the pictures illustrated that story, but the two were simply relaying exactly the same information, rather than playing off one another to build a story. I'm not at all familiar with Tim Conrad's writing, but this beginning did not bode well.

But thank goodness I got past the prologue and into the story proper. Set an unspecified distance into the future, we are introduced to this environment through a confusing mix of reports about the events of the prologue. And it's an appropriate way of introducing the world. I suffered a bit of culture shock until I was able to assimilate the way that information (not actually that far off of the way our contemporary information is filtered) was conveyed and understood in this world. I almost feel like this story could be taking place somewhere in the world of Ellis and Robertson's Transmetropolitan, at least from the way the setting is described in this first issue.

Davis's art is ethereal and strange. Everything is suffused with a glow, as if we're seeing the whole story through a mist, except the occasional official investigator, who is drawn in thin ink lines. There's a commentary there, I'm sure, but I'll see if it's continued through the rest of the series. Which, as I only own issue 1, will have to be tracked down. I had really hoped this wouldn't happen.

I continue to be impressed by Pirhana Press's output. I think the only one of their publications I haven't enjoyed that much was one of Marc Hempel's Gregory books. But I'm sure I'll go back and give them another shot. I suppose that part of the appreciation of these titles is reading them in context. They were coming out at a time when artists like Todd McFarlane and Jim Lee were beginning to dominate mainstream comics, and the boom and then bust of the 90s was just around the corner. Yet here was a small corner of the mainstream, more an indie imprint with major publisher push behind it, turning out some bizarre and innovative pieces of graphic fiction. If you're drifting about looking for something new and weird to read, you could do much worse than picking up something published by Pirhana Press.

See you tomorrow.

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