by Rick Mazumdar
Imagine you're in a room. It could be any room. Imagine yourself sitting there in the room. That space in the room could have been a source for a million different experiences for you, it could have a place where you had a dinner party or where you sit down and watch television or where you made love for the first time. Now imagine what would it be like if that corner you're sitting in were to be moving through time. Imagine your surroundings changing. Imagine that you're sitting there in that corner, the walls disappear, the temperatures fall and the year is 1,00,000 BCE. It's a cold world. The Earth is very new, and you're the first observer, and you're sitting in the corner, watching, waiting for something beautiful to happen.
Listen to this song Deep Blue by Arcade Fire while reading this article, it might augment your reading experience,I put this in because of the lyrics.
HERE was first published in the year 1989 as a six page comic in Raw Magazine, Volume 2, #1. It was republished as a graphical novel in December 2014. HERE was written by Richard Mcguire. The full color edition took eight years for Mcguire to re-create. The full color version is much different from it's 36 panel black and white version, but it maintains it's aura and mystique.
What is it about this book that drew the attention of comic book writers? And why did I choose to write on it?
It is difficult to encapsulate what HERE is about, it is a metaphor for the obliviousness of Time and Space to be vague. For me it is a juxtaposition of various eras melded together by the use of beautiful illustrations and minimal dialogue/monologue between characters/character having little or no consequence with characters or themes in the following pages. The corner of the room moves through time from a range of 3,000,000,000 BCE to 2300 CE. The events occurring in that space is captured in frame. The story of HERE doesn't have a conventional plot or protagonist, every character is the protagonist it would seem, every character has his own story and the main plot is driven by simple questions as " Why did I come in here?", "What's going on?" and "What comes next?" (McGuire envisions a near future in which the sea has risen to cover the main room - a shark swims where an upper molding once was, and a distant future in which four-legged ape like creatures have evolved). Small stories carry out for a few pages, on one page you could find five different eras merged together. Some of the juxtapositions are beautiful : One spread combines five different time frames so the colors and lines form a web connecting people in the throes of different emotions (crying, embracing, texting).
This is one such spread showing 3 different eras.
There is an air of subtlety to HERE, it does little but it's effect is huge, as you move your eyes from panel to panel and frame to frame you experience a joy and a certain melancholy, you would be experiencing grand events and you would experiencing everyday events that would tug at your heart strings, a Native American couple making love in a forest, a group of aged people telling jokes to each other, a wife reflecting on the mistakes she's made in her life, are some of the things we see while moving through the pages.There are a lot of scenes of photography, and with all the inset pictures it resembles an album. At other times it feels like some weird machine, because of both the boxy structure of each set of drawings and the mechanical feeling of jerking one's eye back and forth and here and there.
This is one such example.
McGuire uses these miniplots throughout the course of the book to make mundane everyday events seem grand, he does this using the art by placing everyday scenes trapped in tiny frames onto a spread where the background could be prehistoric times or somewhere in the future.
These are examples of such.
The nature of HERE sometimes feels that the events taking place are happening simultaneously that every timeline or era is static. I think this is where you would see the difference between a film a book and a comic. The presentation of simultaneity is beautifully represented in HERE, a book would generally complete a certain event and would move on to the next thus would not be able to establish this effect and a film would overdo this effect and make the presentation incoherent and would be overdoing it. This is where the brilliance of the comic book medium lies, It does enough, just enough for the audience (the reader) to appreciate the work, the writer and artist show you exactly what he wants you to see.
These are possibly my favorite two spreads,it shows the year 2213 where this hologram of an Indian lady shows how people in the previous centuries used and handled items.
HERE is truly a revolution in the comic book medium, it gives you an idea of what eternity could look like, while being intense family drama, the use of mundane imagery to describe grand events can be related to that of the film "The Tree of Life". The art in which the use of hard lines is similar to the likes of Edward Hooper. I found a lot of similarity between the paintings of Hooper and the illustrations in HERE. Especially the use of light, color and frame.
Chopsuey~ Edward Hooper
HERE is an absolute wonder to read, you would feel that the trillions of stories were left unanswered but you would be completely content with not knowing.