Loads of Learned Lumber

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Richard McGuire, _Here_

ONE OFTEN HEARS that we are in a (perhaps the) golden age of television. I don't know. I did see all of The Sopranos and The Wire and spent time as well with Breaking Bad, Mad Men, and Orange Is the New Black, and they were certainly worthwhile...but...golden age? Really? I do not regret the hours I spent with these fine productions, but aren't they all a little, I don't know, nineteenth century? They all seem basic model Zola/Dreiser/Howells/Gissing  to me, as if television does not really want to step into modernism. They seem unwilling to match even the Dada goofiness of the last seasons of Green Acres, to say nothing of Twin Peaks.

Now, comics... there we are talking golden age. Take this volume, for example, a survey of the same thousand or so cubic feet over the eons--an intriguing enough idea, but McGuire ups the ante by taking advantage of the medium in an unprecedented way. Each two-page spread presents (in non-chronological order) particular moments from particular years, mainly from the 20th century but reaching back to primordial ooze and forward to post-post-apocalyptic future, yet the real genius touch is that each spread also has windows (as it were) opening up different spots of time within the main frame, glimpses of 2014, 1938, 1869, and 1352 popping into 1986.

Hardly any plot, scarcely any characters, but do yourself a favor, skip the Downton Abbey marathon (Merchant and Ivory, thou shouldst be living at this hour), and taste the true golden age.

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