Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Shoot Your TV. Read Comics.

That's the slogan for Lost in the Dark Press, publisher of the Fragile Prophet GN. Which I recently read. And am now going to discuss. So, here goes:

Fragile Prophet
Written by Jeff Davidson
Drawn by Stephen R. Buell

The plot: Jacob has Fragile X syndrome, a disorder that not only causes autism, but grants him prophetic abilities. When he makes a prophecy that doesn't bode well for his future, nor that of his brother Esau, Esau does everything he can to prevent it from coming true.

I'd read the book's first issue last year when it debuted and absolutely loved it. I was extremely disappointed when I learned that it was canned and would later be published as a GN. Mostly because that usually means I'll never get to read it, but I was extremely excied to see it show up in Previews a few months back, and even moreso when I opened up a box of comics I recently recieved and found it inside (I had pre-ordered it, of course, but it still made me happy). I read it in one sitting, probably the first non-floppy I've read in over a month, and I loved it.

Davidson's plot is a breath of fresh air for me after reading nothing but 32 page capes books for so long (my own fault, I admit). Yeah, he does have some sort of "power", but the book is less about Jake's gift and more about the love he shares with his brother and addresses the eternal question of fate; can that love change the fate Jake has forseen? Buell's art is fantastic, though the "horseface" look of the characters originally took a bit of getting used to, but it's never distracting. I was amazed at the amont of character devlopment Davidson crams into a relatively small book, and without slowing the overall story down at all. In fact, if anything, it's too quick a read.

In his introduction Davidson says he'd originally invisioned it as a film, not a comic (and it does have a bit of a Rain Man vibe too it, something I hadn't thought about until now, and a bit of Dreamcatcher as well...the book, which was only slightly better than the shitty film...), and it does read like a movie. The art has a cinematic feel, the dialogue is crisp (despite one annoyance of a left out word).

As I said, my one complaint about the book is it's short length. We get very little background on Jake and Esau; about their life before the death of their parents, about how they came to the circus or even how Jake got his own TV show. But, it is a story that can be read and re-read; each time you see a little deeper into Jakes confusing world, picking up pieces of the puzzle you might have missed previously. A bittersweet read that looks into the mind and life of an autistic child without the kid gloves, a book that works on many levels, and definitely one of the best comics of the last year.

You can read the first few pages at the LitD website and decide for yourself.

And for anyone interested in Fragile X (yes it is a very real disorder), you can discover more about it here, including characteristics, theories on the cause, and ways to support awareness as well as donate to the cause.



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