Thursday, April 3, 2014

Review - How I Made the World


"Another semester begins, and I'm already exhausted. Here I am, a grown adult, and I can't even choose my own courses. I've been trying to get into this poetry class since I got here, but it's always full."

Recounting one's times at college varies greatly depending on who the narrator is. Some will say it was fantastic, others will say it was stressful. Just about every college student will tell you though that at one point or another they went through a time where they weren't really sure what they would do with their life after (or during college). It's a pretty deep topic that's tackled somewhat in How I Made the World. The book is broken into two stories and both "The Monster" and "Catman" are written by Liz Plourde and illustrated by Randy Michaels.

In "The Monster," Liz is a college sophomore trying to find her way in life, but not quite having the traditional epiphany that some students tend to have. She's committed to pursuing an English concentration, despite its popularity and frequently full classes. That pushes her to a ceramics class, where her art project becomes an obsession that spins her life out of control. "Catman" delves into a child believing a lie and doing so with a nod toward imagination.

"The Monster" gets the majority of the attention in How I Made the World and it's actually a pretty heady story. Liz's tale is one that most readers can pretty readily relate to, as she struggles to traverse the unfamiliar waters of being in college. There's a lot of uncertainty that comes with being in college, primarily owing to the societal pressure to "find oneself" in that time. Plourde really taps into that sentiment, presenting Liz as a character who really wants to do well, but struggles to focus simply because she's not really completely into the ceramics class. It's a pretty powerful story that's really well done, save for a lot of dialogue and narration which really slows the pacing down significantly. It doesn't hurt the story necessarily, but it is a very lengthy read. "Catman" is a lot shorter and lighthearted, presenting a child's amazement at a lie simply because she wants to believe it.

Michaels' art is all black and white, yet capable of telling Plourde's tale. The characters have a newspaper strip feel to them, as Michaels doesn't rely too heavily on an excess of detail in their expressions and looks. The simplicity still allows the characters to look unique though, so there's no issues with discerning one from the other. Blacks are used to pretty great effect as well, providing a stark contrast to the otherwise bright, white characters and scenes. There's also some varied panel layouts throughout that keep the reader's eyes moving well, enough so that they can successfully keep up with the story itself.

How I Made the World is a pretty serious tale that's masked by the otherwise enjoyable experience that is college. It could be argued that everyone's college experience is very similar, which is what makes the book so appealing and easily relatable. Plourde uses a very accessible story that is delivered with great ease thanks to the common sense dialogue, while Michaels' illustrations effectively reflects the tone of the book as it progresses. How I Made the World requires that the reader at least think back to a time in their life where they were uncertain about something and how they managed to work their way through it. Because of that, the book really offers a tale that anyone can read and relate to.

How I Made the World is a 32-page black and white comic, that will retail for $2.95 and will be listed in the April issue of Diamond Comics Distributors’ Previews under Diamond order code is APR141257.

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