& Review: Here by Richard McGuire

Here by Richard McGuire. Graphic Novel. Publisher: Hamish Hamilton

Here by Richard McGuire. Graphic Novel. Publisher: Hamish Hamilton

The Book Itself: Rather an ominous window for a book that isn’t in itself, incredibly spooky or ominous. But it’s certainly eye catching in its minimalism!

My Review: Richard McGuire’s groundbreaking comic strip Here was published under Art Spiegelman’s editorship at RAW in 1989.

Built in six pages of interlocking panels, dated by year, it collapsed time and space to tell the story of the corner of a room – and its inhabitants – between the years 500, 957, 406, 073 BC and 2033 AD.

The strip remains one of the most influential and widely discussed contributions to the medium, and it has now been developed, expanded and reimagined by the artist into this full-length, full-colour graphic novel – a must for any fan of the genre.

Note: this book makes no sense if you just open it randomly without reading the description. I did this a couple of times at the store, where it just looked like a completely random selection of sketchy people and landscapes and interior shots.

Fun fact: knowing what a book is about really helps you enjoy it.

Now that my brain has truly been expanded, let me tell you why you should “read” a book full of pictures of the same corner of a room over thousands and thousands of years.

Answer? Because it’s actually really awesome.

One of the six original pages of "Here" From this blog.

One of the six original pages of “Here”
From this blog.

Here is just that: the corner of a living room, in its many forms from prehistoric times (in 80,000,000 BCE, a T-Rex stomps through the jungle that will one day become said room), to far in the future (an android tour guide gives a tour of the former site of the room in the year 2213).

And it’s still a story. Multiple stories, actually. Several pages are dedicated to a picnic on the lawn in 1870. In the first few pages, a joke about a doctor, told from the couch in 1989, takes a twisted turn. In 1986, a historical society announces connections to a Native American past, while on the same page, a panel depicting tribe members seems to observe them from a forest in 1622.

It’s a study of the lives that touch a room, and the life of the room itself, even before it’s constructed (in 1907, in case you’re curious). You can tell the thought and attention that went into this collection of art, and it’s truly impressive. You have a portfolio of beautiful hard work in your hands when you hold onto this book.

And a page from Here as it is today. Image credit here.

And a page from Here as it is today. Image credit here.

It could take you the space of one short afternoon to read it. After all, there aren’t very many words. It could take you as long as turning each of its 304 pages to read it cover to cover. But hopefully, you’ll pause like I did, admiring the sunset on the horizon in 1307, or the family gathered to watch a projected movie in 1973. I found myself simply grinning, going through this book, thinking about what an awesome idea it was, and how cool it was to read.

My Grade: A

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