A graphic novel with a twist, or two…
I’m back from vacation.
Time always goes by way too fast when you’re having fun. But alas, only five months till Christmas and our next big trip… During the first days of our vacation I met a guy named Alex Woolfson on a panel at RainbowCon in Tampa, and he was there with his work. I’m not usually a big fan of comics (no, don’t go away, hear me out!), but these are comics which are very different from what I read as a kid. Okay, I didn’t read many comics as a kid either, largely because we couldn’t get our hands on the Marvel and DC stuff, so it was mostly European comics or Disney. I grew out of it eventually.
Adult comics seems to be a bit weird, and even though we had shared the same room for three days, it took me another couple of hours after serving on the same panel (about social media) with Alex, and realizing he was a perfectly normal person, before I approached his table at the con. He was standing next to another (very nice) comic “person”, the known comic artist Adam DeKraker, with whom he also writes the gay super hero series The Young Protectors.
I bought Adam’s book, out of sheer curiosity, unable to resist the combination of comic, sci-fi & gay romance. To top it off, popping the cherry so to speak, the main character is an android, a Mr. Data from Star Trek of sorts. The story line (don’t worry, I won’t give it all away) centers around Deacon (our android) and a young man called Jeff who meet on a far-away planet. Deacon and his co-android soldiers were sent there on a mission. The book itself starts with Deacon in detention for that mission having gone awfully wrong, and he’s being probed by a psychiatrist, Deacon’s foe in this book, Maven. She’s a feisty one…
First of all, let me say that I really enjoyed this book, both reading it and looking at the panels. I had first given it to a close friend of mine, and she flipped through it in ten minutes and said “nice” (having focused mainly on the sex scene. Yeah, there’s that, too!) I took my time and really read the dialogue, which is written by Alex. The panels were designed by him, but drawn by visual artist Winona Nelson. I sometimes reacted to how some of the facial features were distorted in certain panels, as a sign of strong emotional reactions, but I guess that is normal in comics. Mind you, I’m almost a virgin when it comes to reading them. It’s been over thirty years since I last read one…
The story is very engaging, the characters, including Deacon, very believable and likable. Now there are limitations to what you can do in a comic, and one of them is how you describe characters. While books rely entirely on words, and leave it to the imagination to fill in the blanks, allowing us to create real flesh and blood people in our minds as we read the stories. In a comic, that doesn’t happen. Deacon and Jeff never really become ‘human’, they remain in their comic-like realm, with pinkish skin, their sometimes distorted features etc.
One minute cute, one minute freakish. That makes it a bit more difficult for me to relate to them, take them seriously as persons, like I would with a character from a novel. I can’t see myself interact with Deacon or Jeff the way my mind allows me to interact with well written (duh!) characters in a novel. This is by all means not a reflection on Alex’s work, but on the comic genre per se.
The story ends sort of open-ended, in a way that reminds me of my writing (unconventional happy ending) and even Alex admits the potential of a follow-up. While I’m not a big fan of series, that’s what most comics are, some for decades running. I’ll just say that if Alex ever puts out a follow-up, I’ll be reading/looking at it! If you want to give Artifice a try, you can read it online, right here.
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You all have a wonderful weekend.