Monday, 20 April 2015

The Escapists by Brian K. Vaughan

This review is brought to you courtesy of Melissa, who has taken full advantage of my declaration that putting a physical book into my hands would put it on my immediate reading list. With two copies of this, she loaned one to me, one to our friend Colin, and then I took it home and read it.

I was particularly glad to do so because of how much I had loved The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, which I'm not sure she has read, having come to it as a huge fan of Brian K. Vaughn. I am a moderate Brian K. Vaughn fan (Saga is amazing, I can take or leave Y: The Last Man,) but loved the book it's riffing on.

We kicked it off with a short story by Michael Chabon, about how a young unathletic Brian K. Vaughn met Sam Clay by accident in a hotel, and that sparked his love of Kavalier and Clay's The Escapist comics. That was delightful.

Then we delve into full comic territory, as a young man in the present dreams of being a comic book writer, and is particularly attached to The Escapist. Hebuys the rights to launch it for a new generation, with the help of a talented and attractive young artist he helps get out of a stuck elevator, and his athletic best friend, who has been into lettering forever.

As the best friend dons the Escapist costume for a publicity stunt as they launch their indie comic, however, things start to take more serious turns.

What I liked about this the most was the melding of story and comic, as we get snippets of the new Escapist comic, but often with the dialogue of the characters who are writing it, juxtaposing a comic book background with more mundane dialogue. The different visual styles, and the idea of mixing fiction with, well, a deeper layer of fiction on the page is really quite brilliant, and the melding of the stories within the Escapist comic and those happening to the people creating it is amazingly well done.

We can go to comics for escape, something that Chabon defends in his novel, but Brian K. Vaughn has made them intertwine with the day-to-day life of the fictional creators of the new comic in such interesting ways. I really loved this.

I also feel like talking about it is convoluted, while on the page it's quite effortless. And the final message of the entire thing is kind of beautiful. Making your own art while still loving your source material strikes me as something that is right in tune with Chabon's book, and this is a worthy tribute to that.

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