Finally…a graphic novel that explores the full range of possibilities of the medium — and does it well. Shutter is so packed with creative bizarre-ness that it will most likely be confusing to most readers. And truthfully…if I were to read this by the individual issues as the come out on the stands, I probably wouldn’t be able to get in to this. It’s sooooo out there that the reader needs to be able to put his hands literally or figuratively around the whole of the book to know that there’s more to the story than just the moments that he’s reading now.
Like some of the best speculative fiction authors (Zelazny, Ellison, Pullman, Dick), we are tossed, unceremoniously, into the middle of a story in a strange world, and left to fend for ourselves. We can either buck up and try to learn as we go, or we can forever be lost and not bother reading. But I’ll warn you…choosing the former path won’t be easy. Author Joe Keating and artist Leila del Duca have combined to create an utterly phantasmagorical world where anthropomorphic animals wield swords and mega-blasters and ride triceratops’ while hunting down a human girl and her alarm-clock cat side-kick.
This book is hard to describe. It can’t be read… it must be experienced! From the opening pages, where the creators’ names appear as if they were intercut motion-picture credits, I was captivated. I knew that this was going to be something very different. And since we start with a father showing his daughter the moon — while ON the moon (and of course a young child just finds it boring because there’s nothing to see but rocks) — we know that this is a different time, if not a different world than our own. Establishing the father/daughter relationship also brilliantly sets up the rest of the story.
Twenty years later and we learn just what sort of world it is through some great visuals from Del Duca. People sitting casually on a patio with scaly green arms and a tail while a tattooed human casually walks a dog nearby. A pterodactyl in a nest along the abutment of an apartment highrise. A dirigible floats over the modern-looking (to us) metropolis. Our young girl (now in her late twenties) riding a subway alongside a man in a full astronaut spacesuit and a minotaur reading a newspaper. Yeah…this is the world we will be in for the rest of the book and this visual set-up really sets the tone well. Expect the unexpected.
That’s easier said than done, of course. When purple ghost ninjas who can only utter the word “kuu” attack, we are reminded just what ‘unexpected’ means.
There is a story here. A story of Kate Christopher, a renowned explorer, forced to explore something she’d rather not … her history. Despite the apparent ramblingness of the book, it DOES make sense. Yes…there are flashbacks that we aren’t specifically TOLD are flashbacks, but the savvy reader will pick up on this.
I am a huge fan of this art. The ‘look’ is every bit as important as the words here and Del Duca approaches this like an expert cinematographer. Owen Gieni’s colors and Ed Brisson’s letters make a positive impact on the over-all look of the book.
Looking for a good book? Shutter, Volume 1: Wanderlost is one of the most original graphic novels I’ve read. It isn’t easy to follow along, but it’s worth the patience!
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Shutter, Volume 1: Wanderlost
author: Joe Keating
artist: Leila del Duca
publisher: Image Comics
paperback, 136 pages