Thursday, March 09, 2006

Review: Ganges #1

Ganges #1
by Kevin Huizenga
Fantagraphics, $7.95

Let's get one thing out of the way: This is the fifth volume in Fantagraphics' Ignatz line and, as such, it's printed oversized with two-color ink and on high quality paper, with a dust jacket no less. Yes, it's nearly $8, but it's an excellent package and well worth the cost--provided you like the material.

So, is the material any good? Yes, it is indeed. Huizenga gives us several short stories illustrating his oft-used protagonist Glenn Ganges and his internal life. If you've enjoyed Huizenga's other Glenn Ganges stories, you'll find much to admire here.

I tend to enjoy novel uses of structure and storytelling in my comics, and at this point in my comic-reading experience I appreciate coming across a comic that plays with the form in new and intersting ways. Huizenga is becoming a master and playing with conventions and using the comics page to explore the relationships between objects, space, time, and thought.

Take for instance the first story, "Time Traveling." It's a quick five-pager that finds Glenn walking to the library on a Saturday afternoon, feeling a sense of deja vu, and pondering the existance of parallel universes. Not a very exciting description perhaps, but Huizenga presents it in a novel way with a touch of humor.

Detractors may claim that the internal life of Ganges that Huizenga is presenting is not terribly original and, perhaps, a bit boring. That misses the point, I think. Glenn Ganges' thoughts and ruminations are of the same kind that most of us have. It is in exploring the common through novel illustration and storytelling that Huizenga's work is strengthened.

As a reader, experiencing these stories illustrates the reach of possibilities of the comics form. The stories that Huizenga tells here are not only effective as comics, but are more effective because they are comics.

Rating: 4.5 (of 5)

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