Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Finder Library Volume One

You know how you’re aware of certain things, but you’re not really ‘aware’ of them.
There are a lot of comics (both in print and web form) out there. A LOT.
So it is pretty easy to overlook stuff. Maybe because you just don’t know quite enough about some projects or you think you know enough but you really don’t, so you end up not really paying attention to a lot of stuff.
And in a lot of cases, you’re probably not really missing much. Certainly nothing life changing. Or nothing that would necessarily stand out in any special way.
But then sometimes, there is one of those projects that actually delivers something really special. If you only were to actually give it a chance and sit down and read it.

I’ve heard of
Finder before. I wasn’t unfamiliar with its existence. I knew it was a comic by Carla Speed McNeil. But I didn’t really know anything about it. Certainly not enough about it to make me seek it out.
And it has been around for a quite a while. Since 1996 in fact. So it isn’t some flash in the pan project.
It is one of those project you keep hearing good things about, mostly from other comic creators or maybe the occasional comic blogger.
Not to mention it is an Eisner award winning series.
I just didn’t know enough about it to know that I really should have been reading it).

So along comes Dark Horse. They are putting together a brand new collection for the series. The first volume came out in March or April. The fact they have made it available in a reasonably priced package (616 pages for $24.95) enticed me to finally check it out. So I bought the first volume and it has been sitting on my coffee table for the last month or so (along with a handful of other unread trades/graphic novels and a small stack of comics).

I noticed the second volume was solicited in the May issue of Previews (for products that will be shipping beginning in July). So clearly I needed to make a decision as to whether I would be ordering that volume as well. In order to make that determination, I first needed to start reading volume one. That would be the best way to see if it really was worth the time and money after all.

So I started reading it last night. It is a fairly large collection (616 pages as I mentioned). This first volume appears to contain three story-arcs. The first is Sin-Eater, and it is by far the longest of the three (coming in about 380 pages). I got through about six chapters (plus one interlude), which marks Part One of the story (and comes in about 210 of the 380 pages). I wanted to keep reading, but it was past 3am at that point and I really needed to shut it down for the night.

All I can say is 'Wow'.
Okay, I can say a lot more really. I think I knew about part way through chapter four that I would definitely be ordering the second volume, no doubt about it. And maybe I knew even before that.
I'm not going to give a synopsis of the story or anything like that here. You can find more detailed reviews in other places for that if you really need it. What I will say is that this story is outstanding. It kind of jumps all over the place early on, but all the little pieces start tying together and it really makes for an amazing tapestry. The characters are all incredibly interesting and intriguing and mysterious and just all around compelling in their own individual way. Some characters (through part one of the story at least) only appear briefly while others have more significant appearances in the story, but you want to know more about every single one of them. The women in the books, music, and miscellany store, the blur men, the First Church of Huitzilopochtli, the captain at the police station, Jaeger's moving buddies, and every other minor character you run across along the way. You just know they all have some interesting tales to tell if given the spotlight. And then you've got the more prominent characters: Jaeger and Emma and her three kids. They've got even more stories, bigger stories, to tell.
The art is quite good as well. Carla Speed McNeil does a really good job with facial expressions, and that really helps to sell the characters. It brings more emotion to the images and action on the page. Whether it is someone with a smirk on their face, or a smile, or just a calm look in a moment of relaxation, it really brings the characters and story to life.

You need to buy and read this book, simple as that. It is one of those special projects that you need to give a chance because you absolutely won't regret it. I'm not going to say it will be the best $25 (plus tax or shipping) you've ever spent in your life, because I don't know what kind of amazing (or not-so-amazing) things you may have purchased in the past for $25 (plus tax or shipping). It will be a *$25 that you won't regret for a minute having spent however. As far as entertainment for your buck goes, it is going to deliver and then some. Dollar for dollar, you will be hard pressed to find this degree of quality entertainment in this bulk anywhere else.

So seriously, let me be the last person to tell you this is one of the most amazing series that you haven't yet read. Let me be the last person to tell you that before you've finally discovered it for yourself.
Go buy the book. Read it. You will be glad you did. And then maybe you can be the last person to tell someone else so they can discover that as well.

The Finder Library Volume One

Carla Speed McNeil's Finder

* currently has The Finder Library Volume One for $16.49 (so you don't even have to spend the full $25 to find out how great this series is)