Jul 18, 2016
The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 510: Looking At The Front Door, 2002
Ah. A break from Batman was definitely a good idea. It reminds me that there are comics out there that aren't about grown people in costumes playing out epic struggles day in, day out. Sometimes the epic struggles are uncostumed and internal. Today's comic, for example.
I'll readily admit that the slice of life genre of comics is not always my favourite. Actually , slice of life stories in general aren't. It seems to be to be telling stories about things that I can either feel myself, or wouldn't want to feel to begin with. Not that this is any reason not to tell or read these stories, but they don't spur in me the same kind of speculative thinking that the more highly metaphoric stories I prefer do. And, ironic as it may be coming from a superhero fan, more often than not these stories tend to be about stasis, about the moment of being able to break a cycle that is unhealthy, and the inability to act in that moment. Our protagonist in this comic comes so close to just such a moment. Actually, we're left unsure as to whether he seizes that moment or not, finding himself physically, contemporaneously at that figurative and literal threshold, while frozen in a memory of a better time, a time he himself admits he never wanted to end.
Our memories trap us occasionally. They forgive the present with the remembrances of the past. It's a trap that so many fall into, and so few ever find the strength to crawl from. As an optimist, mostly, I choose to see this young man walking through that front door, rather than simply looking at it, but then I remember the title, and the fact that I've described this comic as a "slice" of life. Because it's a story that's been presented to us, there's the impulse to see it as somehow exceptional in this fictional life. But we've no evidence that the occurrence we're witnessing isn't a weekly one, that the tragedy of the title of this comic is that looking at the door is all this person can do. Actually, considering the very different depictions of the main character between front cover and interior art, I'd say that the whole thing we're reading is a memory of this man gone to pot, sitting, watching his football and holding onto that third date, that memory of better times that will never, ever let him go and find more.
Sigh. Not a happy comic by any stretch. Onward.