Written and Illustrated by Carla Speed McNeil
Published by Lightspeed Press and Dark Horse Comics
There are comics that I read that I am almost afraid to write about. They are so good and my words can not come close to doing them justice. Finder is one of those books. It’s an amazing work that feels greater than a ‘mere’ comic.
Douglas Wolk puts it beautifully in his introduction.
“Finder is another story you can fall into, a story not just to enjoy once but to explore. Whatever obstacles have kept it from you since it began in 1995, the last of them has just been removed.”
We start by meeting Jaeger, who is asleep in a large bowl, cupped in the hands of an enormous statue of Ganesha, somewhere outside the city of Anvard. The city is covered by a huge, decaying dome, pieces which sporadically fall off to the hazard of any bystanders. We are in the far future of our own Earth, in a society very different from our own.
Jaeger is a charming rogue of a character, generous yet dangerous and he ties the different tales in the collection together. It’s obvious he is well-known in Anvard, and to the Grosvenor-Lockhart family in particular. This is where things get interesting, as the books develop we learn much about his history with this family and through that the social dynamics of the world.
McNeil is a hell of a cartoonist and one of the cool things about this doorstopper of a collection is that you get to see her evolution as an artist, (the series began in 1995 and there must be six or seven years worth of work collected here). She has a great grasp on the technical aspects of cartooning and crams a ton of story on to the page. The characters are well-defined and given great expression through movement and wonderful dialogue. The art has a clear, European feeling but with moments of slapstick comic ferocity that come straight from manga.
As science fiction I find it fascinating, it’s not just our modern-day morals with jetpacks, but a genuinely different world and society. There are animal based tribes and people, clans composed entirely of women and future technology mixed with hunter/gatherers (McNeil calls this ‘Aboriginal science fiction’). And none of this is handed to you, as the story develops and unfolds, the characters and their relationships are so truthful that you follow happily along, building the world as you go.
This Library volume collects the first four trade paperbacks and the covers to the individual issues. It also has a notes section at the end that add further explanation to various pages and scenes, describing the history or inspiration for characters or places. I only discovered this after finishing the book and immediately wanted to start again. It’s that kind of book. You can’t read it all at once, it is far to deep and dense to smash through even in a few days, this comic needs time to digest. And that is a refreshing drink of water to this comic reader.
Should I buy it? Now this is tricky, I can see Finder as not being for everyone. If you like science fiction, a strong story telling voice or want to learn and be challenged by a book then grab this now. I doesn’t ‘feel’ like a comic even though it is a great one, because it is unlike any other comic you have ever read.