Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Books: Elk's Run


Elk's Run
Written by Joshua Hale Fialkov
Art by Noel Tuazon and Scott A. Keating

Available now from Islington Libraries
You can reserve this item for free here:

How much can you trust a recommendation?

Part of what makes the monthly meeting's of the Islington Comic Forum [1] work (for me at least) is that when you're trying to work out which book to read there's always the option of holding up a particular comic up in the air and asking "Is this any good?" Because what happens then is that two or three heads will turn around and offer anything from "Oh yeah - that's the best" to "Oh god no - throw it away!" [2]

But you know: that's human nature - we're all much more inclined to give things a go if everyone else gives it the thumbs up - which I guess is why if I ever have kids I'm not going to rely upon the old cliché of "if everyone else was throwing themselves off a bridge - would you do it too?" because the (oh so obvious) answer to that is: well - if everyone was throwing themselves off a bridge and it was on the front page of every magazine in the country as the hot new thing and anyone who hadn't thrown themselves off a bridge was shunned and mocked as an uncool freak - then: yes - of course any self-respecting teenager would throw themselves off a bridge: the first chance they got [3].

Which is why when I came across this book and looked at the back cover to get a feel of what it was about I was all like - oh - when I saw the names ("Damn fine comic making" Brian Michael Bendis, "Really, really good [4]. The team executes it with great skill."  Warren Ellis and - erm - some other people that I hadn't really heard of) bigging up something that - up until that point I wasn't really on my radar at all. So - what the hey right? - I guess that means it's earnt the time it would take to read: I mean if other people say it's good then it must worth a read - yeah?

Yeah - well  maybe not. I wouldn't say that I hated reading Elk's Run (like: it feel like it gave me cancer or anything [5]) but it didn't exactly set my brain on fire (which is pretty much my baseline for whether or not something is worth the energy that it took to read: if I can't smell something burning and the smoke isn't slowly pouring out of my ears - then I consider it a wasted afternoon - or whatever). I mean: yeah - alright - it does the multiple point of view storytelling thing but not much else: I haven't actually gone to check it out - but I would not be at all surprised if - like The Exterminators - it turns out that this was originally supposed to be a TV show or a movie; because as nicely told as the story is ("nice"? ouch) there's not that much that's really comic-booky about it - it kinda feels more like a storyboard for a Channel 5 movie or something (do they still have Channel 5 movies? Or is that a reference that no one's gonna get?). And the artwork - well - I don't wanna be too judgemental or anything: but some of it is so crude - it looks like it was drawn with the the crayons that you get at the bottom of the crayon box: less pencil-shaped and more like a rock or something.  

But then - well - the thing that makes it make a little more sense is that fact that I found something on The Graphic Novel Reporter website which included Elk's Run on their 2010 list of best graphic novels for teens [6] which - when I saw it - kinda mellowed me out a bit on the whole thing. Because - hey - if it's just for teenagers then that means it doesn't have to be that good - right? But then - back when I was in my teens (not to brag or anything) I was making my way through Alan Moore's back catalogue so - well: yeah - I'll just leave things at that.

[1] I think it used to be that the monthly meetings where what the Islington Comic Forum was - but now with this blog having been going on for a few years - it feels less defined than that. Now it's like the phrase "Islington Comic Forum" designates both the meetings and all the stuff I've written about on here (maybe?): so - I dunno: Half Meeting Half Blog All Comics (or something?).

[2] That would be me if anyone holds up a copy of Fables (god I hate Fables).

[3] Speaking of the teenager / parent dynamic: over Christmas I heard about how when my girlfriend was a teenager she used to own a pair of Doc Martins (because - you know: she was a wannabe rock chick or something I guess?) and - because it was the style at the time (damn you grunge) used to want to get them really messed up and scruffy and faded: so spent every second she could wiping them on the side of pavements and stuff like that so that they would look really worn out. Of course - her dad - who's much more traditionally-inclined - and just couldn't understand why anyone would want to wear boots that weren't properly cleaned and polished was almost weeping in frustration to see such a nice pair of Doc Martins get so tatty. And so came morning when my girlfriend woke up to find her beloved boots (which she had spent months and months getting just right) sitting next to her bed - freshly polished. As you might imagine: she wasn't best pleased.

[4] Although - is it just a coincidence that that sounds like Homer Simpson meeting the patriotism editor of Reading Digest? ("Ooh, I love your magazine. My favourite section is `How to increase your word power'.")  Maybe Ellis' heart wasn't totally engaged?

[5] You know - its not Fables.

[6] If you're interested it's here: The Expanded List: 100 More Core Graphic Novels for Teens.


Further reading: DemoAnya's GhostAmerican Born ChineseMercuryB.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth, Daytripper, A Small Killing, Violent CasesRoad to PerditionThe Exterminators.

All comments welcome.

No comments: