Monday, September 01, 2003

The Center of Creativity

I havenít written much on this Blog about comics and graphic novels, certainly not nearly as much as they deserve. I could go on and on about Frank, Krazy Kat, Sandman, V for Vendetta, The League of Extraordinary Gentleman, Ghost World... But they all step aside when Dave McKeanís Cages walks through the room.

For anyone who ever doubted that a comic book could have the depth of a ìrealî novel, Cages is the one that will change your mind.

The story centers around a cat; a guy who falls out of the sky; a controversial author who has everything in his life that he loves taken away from him, one piece at a time by some very odd men; an artist blocked by doubt; a musician who hears rocks sing and a woman who has in her possession the worlds most extensive pigeon related sayings. But itís more than all this of course.

Itís a meditation on creativity but unlike the sort of gushing verbose decree to create one gets reading Ray Bradbury (which is a great kick in the pants for any writer), this is more sublime. Itís introspective to a degree that few writers are genuinely capable. Thereís a bit of a desire when writing a story to keep your self at arms length from the subject matter, no matter hjow personal.

Reading Cages though, you get the feeling the painter is really Dave McKean. Sure, nothing new here. Isnít the main character of every novel just a thinly veiled avatar of the author? Well, sort of but this is different.

See, the painter, the musician, the nameless fellow who fell from the sky, theyíre not just aspects of Dave McKean. Theyíre everyone whoís ever felt the need to express something form inside but not known just how to go about doing it. So you fumble, you struggle, you find a theme, and pursue it, even if it is dangerous. You look for meaning and hope that thereís some sort of rhythm and structure. Then you fall out of the sky and make love to your neighbor and a cat talks to someoneís personal God and everything folds in on itself. But thatís OK because in the end you realize that youíve made something, an artifact for inspiring thought and creation. And that ultimately, thereís nothing better you can do with your life than that.

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