Here (Pantheon Graphic Novels)

by Richard McGuire

Hardcover, 2014




Pantheon, (2014)


"Richard McGuire's Here is the story of a corner of a room and the events that happened in that space while moving forward and backward in time. The book experiments with formal properties of comics, using multiple panels to convey the different moments in time. Hundreds of thousands of years become interwoven. A dinosaur from 100,000,000 BCE lumbers by, while a child is playing with a plastic toy that resembles the same dinosaur in the year 1999. Conversations appear to be happening between two people who are centuries apart. Someone asking, "Anyone seen my car keys?" can be "answered" by someone at a future archeology dig. Cycles of glaciers transform into marshes, then into forests, then into farmland. A city develops and grows into a suburban sprawl. Future climate changes cause the land to submerge, if only temporarily, for the long view reveals the transient nature of all things. Meanwhile, the attention is focused on the most ordinary moments and appreciating them as the most transcendent"--… (more)

Media reviews

The Comics Journal
I tend to think of it as a comics truism that the shorter way is always, always the best way to tell a story, but maybe Here, six pages that became hundreds, is the exception that proves the rule. By patiently teasing out a more or less complete historical and poetic context for the patch of land
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he sets his story down on, returning to characters and scenes again and again while simultaneously showing us the circumstances that brought them forth, McGuire transcends the quick, “gotcha!” feel of the original short and turns a formal exercise into something as rich with character and anecdote and forward motion as any more traditional novel.
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User reviews

LibraryThing member detailmuse
I received this yesterday and opened it last night, just to look at the first pages until I could read it properly later ... and (sigh) after a couple hours of fascinated immersion, I turned the last page. Wonderful. It’s an entirely graphic (well, maybe 1% words) exploration of what might have
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happened on the site of what is, in 2014, a corner in an American home’s living room. It's presented in a non-linear / non-chronological narrative from the gassy soup of 3-trillion years ago through extinct animals to a future (no spoilers here) 22,000+ years from now. Numerous cultures are touched upon -- e.g. natives and colonials, but the emphasis is on the 20th-century -- all replete with period clothing, furnishings, language, technology and activities. Little plots develop through short vignettes, but there is much to miss and much to catch on a second (or tenth) reading.

I grew up in a hundred-year-old house and now live in another one, different city, different state. I often wonder about the previous occupants and furnishings, most recently about those in the time of WWI. This book inspires me to turn my curiosity into action by looking at local historical records.
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LibraryThing member gendeg
Back in the pre-digital camera days, keeping photos was an archivist ritual. Mine were always scattered in old, musty albums or clipped together in random piles with rubber bands and tossed in shoe boxes hastily labelled, to be forgotten and discovered and forgotten again. Things were in no
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particular order; sets were often shuffled together like playing cards. Today with Instagram and Flickr and all sorts of similar services, it's easy to create slideshows and to categorize everything using tags and hashtags, and location markers. It's easy and orderly, everything marked in its place. I sort of miss the old way, the scattered photos with their intimate chaos.

Here by Richard McGuire takes that concept of chaotic chronologies and fragmented memories and creates an intriguing, high-concept graphic novel that captures that shifting, fluidity of time. He does this by telling the story of what happens in one room, in one location, in one house throughout the ages. It's a weirdly compressed, claustrophobic focal point and setting, which is ironic because McGuire takes us traveling through time even as we stay within the walls of this room. We get snapshots—literally as if someone were standing in one spot and snapping photos—from every age imaginable: 1971, 1957, 1999, 100,097 BC, etc.; early man, the colonial period, the fifties, the seventies, the eighties, the 'present,' and so on. McGuire gives us easter egg glimpses of these moments and as the panels build, they build in temporal complexity too. You'll see one spot of the room set in 1933, and another set in 1979.

What's so thrilling about his visual style of storytelling is how the narrative busts out of the familiar left-to-right/up-and-down tracking. Your eye is forced to roam and—if you have a good visual memory or a knack for time traveling detective work—to keep track of all the different, ever-shifting moments. Time shifts not only year to year but over time within those years. To make things easier, McGuire uses consistent color schemes for particular time periods. The drawing is done with colored pencils and water color; in fact, it feels almost rushed in parts. Stylistically, I prefer more detailed and lush work, but aesthetics aside, this graphic novel is so conceptually innovative that it could have been drawn in stick figures and I'd still have been entranced.

Expect 300-plus pages of compounding, intertwining, and fused lifetimes and stories. There's a kind of echo-chamber aspect to it, too, that's hard to describe, a thrum that's supposed to embody life from both a historical and poetical standpoint, I think. It's both distant and intimate. The cast is an ensemble, so we're not meant to focus on just one POV. It's just us, I think, our viewpoint as readers.

Here is a bold vision, a matrix of histories and futures, something we never really take the time to grasp—the continuum of it all—and here it is tackled in a graphic novel of all things. This book will make you feel small—in a good way. Our individual place in time is just a combustible moment, and yet it matters. Places and things existed long before us and will go on and persist long after we're gone.
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LibraryThing member chrisblocker
I wrote off Graphic Novels years ago. Clearly, the illustrated genre is dominated with do-gooders in costumes performing ridiculous feats and that's just not my thing. But to write off all graphic novels was perhaps a bit short-sighted of me. Likely, there are some fabulous stories I am missing out
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on because of my prejudice. So, in my continuing quest to open my mind, I have decided to finally give Graphic Novels a fair trial. Over the next few months, I intend to sprinkle several graphic novels into my normal reading fare. I suspect I shall find elements that confirm my suspicions that Graphic Novels are not for me, but I anticipate many pleasant surprises. First up, Here by Richard McGuire.

Here is a wonderful concept. This is a story about place. Throughout its 300 pages, the setting is a living room, from 3 billion years in the past, to 20,000 years in the future. Perhaps this isn't so much a story of place as it is about time. Time is the primary character here. Jumping back and forth in time erratically, each page highlights a specific year with many insets of what that same space looked like ten years earlier, 10,000 years earlier, thirty years in the future, and so on. Sparse in text, Here captures the mundane moments that make up our lives. It's a wonderfully fabulous idea, but trying to make sense of a story or piece the various fragments together is fruitless. At the very least, I hoped to track the house's occupants throughout several decades, to divine some continuity, but with only a few exceptions, I didn't see a thread connecting the years. Who occupies the house one year bears no resemblance to the occupant of the next year, and so on with the following year. With all the various pieces, it may just be that I missed linking elements, but it seemed to me that either this house has had many occupants, or the author didn't have a concrete history of the house's occupants in mind.

The illustrations were relatively simple and lacked some detail I would've loved to have seen. For one, in the room's two hundred years of standing, it was never once messy or cluttered. Not once, even when the occupants seemed to be primarily children, did I notice candy wrappers or used tissues or a stain on the carpet. Not once did the mantle become overpopulated with kitschy knickknacks and family photos. And there I go, over analyzing a comic book. Pssshhh.

So yeah, superb idea. Implementation was good, but not enough to win me over. Given the lack of a traditional story and my inexperience with the genre, I offer no rating or recommendation. I guess if you like books with pictures that are big on concepts, this is a satisfactory choice.

Superhero Count: One if you count a masked cowboy; two if you include Benjamin Franklin.
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LibraryThing member albertgoldfain
Juxtaposition of times in a fixed space. Beautiful artwork. Has a lot to say about recurrence, memory, and correspondence, but says it in the most succinct form possible. A must read.
LibraryThing member viviennestrauss
Happened upon this book today and loved it! What a beautiful idea with really poignant illustrations. Always a fan of parallel lives/time travel and this is a truly unique way to depict it.
LibraryThing member Sullywriter
It's like being Billy Pilgrim tripping through all time.
LibraryThing member ivan.frade
Overlapping different times in the same place is an appealing concept. It is actually very well done and the first pages are impressive... but it fails to deliver real content.

You need experiments like this to progress the comic art, and not all of them need to work.
LibraryThing member TheBookJunky
This was a fascinating way to express the simultaneous histories and hopeful futures, all presented with the poignancy of looking at old photos with the sad knowledge of all their future yet to come. It is a conflation of nostalgic reminiscences with unknown histories, some influential and others
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meaningless, bound up in a sort of omniscient presentation, yet also feeling very human.
The graphic format was the perfect vehicle for this.
Just a very cool idea, to present it this way.
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LibraryThing member lycomayflower
A graphic novel that traces all of the things that have happened over the centuries in the spot where the living room of a house now stands. A neat concept, and the art was great. Some of the images were striking, and it's a little mind-blowing to think about the ways one little piece of land
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changes over hundreds of years. Tired a little of it by the end though.
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LibraryThing member weeta
places are the same regardless of time, mostly.
LibraryThing member FKarr
I loved this book. I don't read a lot of graphic novels, but I've not seen anything like this. Of course, it also appeals to my interest in history and family. I wish I owned this book or could have it longer from the library so that I could read it through and peruse it more thoroughly.
LibraryThing member 2wonderY
Nice try, but I've frankly seen it done better in childrens books.
LibraryThing member NatalieSW
Very interesting, attractive book. It presents one house, and/or its locale and inhabitants over numerous different moments in time. Sometimes similarities in, for example, the house's different occupants' behaviors, despite decades or more between them, are depicted; sometimes the emphasis seems
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to be on the dissimilarities between events and lives. It'll bear numerous re-readings!
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LibraryThing member JamesPaul977
An interesting concept of the history of one spot on Earth. Easily read in one sitting.
LibraryThing member Rex_Lui
A witty attempt to stream the evolution of humanity (even for non Homo sapiens) through series of yearly-dated pictures. But our evolution from heartless beast to compassionate human is way way way more complicated than a hop between two pictures.
LibraryThing member bookworm12
This graphic novel is hard to describe. The entire thing takes place in one room of a house, but over thousands of years. Each page contains a variety of images with the year listed in the top corner. There might be a Native American hunting in the woods in one corner and a young child dancing by a
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couch in another. It's powerful in it's simplicity. I found myself studying ever single detail on the pages. I loved the meditation on time and how things change and stay the same. Just beautifully executed.
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LibraryThing member Carmenere
McQuire's premise is to focus solely on one room, the living room, of a colonial house and the plot of land it was built upon.
The book begins with an illustration of the room in 1957, the next page, in 1942 and the next to the present day. Slowly we are introduced to the people who occupied the
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room. Through decades, the reader sees the events and activities which transpired there, and "hear" the conversations exchanged. Before there was house there was bog and it was inhabited by native american's who called this bog their land and before them prehistoric animals. McQuire also suggests how this land will transform in the future, way into the future.
The author/illustrator's (it's not clear if they are the same) eye for detail enhances each era and, for the reader, ignites memories.
I absolutely loved this graphic novel and for me the one I found I could most easily relate, I believe others will too. How many times have you walked into a room in your house and wonder why on earth did the previous owners do this, that or the other thing to make it a place they could call their home but, for your liking, needs changed as soon as possible? Or, perhaps you mused as to what your property looked like in the past, what the same old sun shined upon before anyone was "Here".
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LibraryThing member b.masonjudy
Richard McGuire's narrative of a specific room exceeded my expectations for a meditation on time and place. Each two page fold changes in time and most often there is an inbreaking of the past, and towards the end the future, into the "current" time. My favorite pages were the lush and
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expressionist scenes in BCE.
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LibraryThing member LibrarianRyan
Have you ever wondered what a house sees or goes though. In this book the reader gets the history of a house and the land the house was built on and all those who lived near it over millennia. This is not a congruent story, but one told with pictures laid upon pictures, laid upon pictures. On one
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page you would have a view from 15000 BC to 2045. Yes even into the future. There are few words and the book plays with emotion and visuals instead of lyrics. And it works quite well.
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LibraryThing member krau0098
Series Info/Source: This is a stand alone book. I got a copy of this book as a gift for my birthday.

Thoughts: This is basically the story of a certain place. For much of the book it is a particular room in a house (the family room) but the graphic novel also ventures into times before the house was
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built and after the house was destroyed. Each page shows you the year and as the book goes on sometimes there are small panels from many different years inserted throughout. The drawing itself is very well done in beautiful muted colors and I enjoyed it.

If I was a more careful reader I would probably try and follow all of the different timelines more closely. The book jumps willy nilly between timeframes and as I said, sometimes many timelines are overlapping. Sometimes I think things are shown overlapped to show how similar people’s actions are across many decades. I also appreciated the statement the book made about how short the timeframe of humanity’s existence has been and how big of an impact humanity has had on its environment.

This was a very quick but very creative read and I enjoyed it. I did think that the book got a bit too chaotic for me at points and I struggled to keep all the different stories from different timeframes straight as we jumped in and out of them. I guess I would have liked this to be a bit more linear, but I do appreciate the art and storytelling that went into super-imposing all these images within each other.

My Summary (4/5): Overall I enjoyed this and would recommend it. It was a graphic novel I can see myself re-reading a few times because I think I will pick up on new things each time I read it. I loved the idea behind it and enjoyed the art style. However, I did find it a bit confusing to keep track of all the timelines. The fact that panels from one time are inserted into panels from another time can be a bit hard to follow. If you are intrigued by graphic novels that push the art style of graphic novels and tell a story in a new creative way I would definitely recommend this.
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LibraryThing member toddtyrtle
Brilliant, clever, and engaging. It makes me think about the stories embedded within my own "here." I couldn't put it down and read it in a single sitting.
LibraryThing member psalva
This is such a dazzling book. The way McGuire overlaps all the episodes on top of one another is revelatory. I love how we can see how much has changed and how much things stay the same all at once. I’ll be thinking about this for a while
LibraryThing member bmanglass
This is the kind of book I would love to make.
LibraryThing member bobbybslax
I wouldn’t give it many points for the quality of its dialogue or even many of the juxtapositions designed here, since it seems to present a simple and not all that novel message by the end, but the novelty of its experimentation with time and space is still very much fascinating for a short 300
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LibraryThing member eldang
The most interesting, mind-bending comic I've read. The basic conceit is that every image on every page is of the same spot, a room in the house the author grew up in, in New Jersey. The time frame shifts from before there was a recognisable earth (possibly before the history of the universe?) to
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some way into the future, and as the book goes on it jumps around more and overlays progressively more stories on top of each other. Some are told in a fairly linear way over a few pages, while others are dropped and picked up later, and others just left to be inferred.

I loved the sense of the hugeness of history and smallness of today that this book conveyed better than I've ever seen done with writing. And I loved the sections where different stories progressed at different speeds.

I read this in one evening, but I know I'll be back, probably jumping in and out in a less linear way. One thing to remind myself as much as anyone else: the book was published in December 2014, which is relevant because some of its storylines are in the recent past or near future.
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