Here (Pantheon Graphic Novels)

by Richard McGuire

Hardcover, 2014

Status

Available

Publication

Pantheon, (2014)

Description

"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 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.

User reviews

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 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.
… (more)
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 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.
… (more)
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 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.
… (more)
LibraryThing member jasonli
A graphic novel set entirely in one corner of an apartment building – but it offers many moments from different times whether it's the prehistoric past, the 1900s, present day or the far future. Be warned however, the story is non-linear and lacks a sequential plot or steady cast of characters.
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 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 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 Sullywriter
It's like being Billy Pilgrim tripping through all time.
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 to be on the dissimilarities between events and lives. It'll bear numerous re-readings!… (more)
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 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 JamesPaul977
An interesting concept of the history of one spot on Earth. Easily read in one sitting.
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 changes over hundreds of years. Tired a little of it by the end though.… (more)
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 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.
… (more)

Language

Original language

English

Barcode

10493
Page: 0.2477 seconds