Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
That’s right, I’ve got my own theme song now (hit it, Tom!). All I need now is my own in-house band to play it whenever I walk into the room. That, or a cartoon adventure show that teams me up with a sarcastic robot monkey pirate voiced by Garrison Keillor, who mocks me consistently but also points out links to the archive.
In other news, it’s Day Three of this Grant Morrison theme week where I take a look at some of his works in the comics medium and explain why they’re great. It tends to involve a hearty mix of slavish gushing and keen analysis. So pull up a chair and pour yourself a glass of Kool-Aid as I discuss another tiny masterpiece from the God of All Comics. Soon to be a major motion picture, it’s…
It’s about time I got around to this one. We3 is easily one of the finest comics of the current millenium, and one of my all-time favorites. Funny how this week has had three of my all-time favorites so far. That’s weird. Hmm. Anyway, We3 was a terrific three-issue mini-series by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely that was published by Vertigo and gave this very blog its three mascots, who have gone on to become Curious Cat, Declarative Rabbit, and Sidebar Dog. It’s now available in handy trade paperback form.
And look at those covers, above. Heart-achingly beautiful and really clever, considering the insides of the book. I teared up when I first saw the third one. Hell, I still tear up at it.
Yep; this comic might make you cry, even if you’re a hard old man.The high concept pitch is “The Incredible Journey meets the Terminator.” Three animals– a dog, a cat, and a rabbit– are turned into cyborg killing machines by the government. The scientist lady in charge of them sets them free, though, and the chase is on. All the animals want to do is go home, but is there a home left for them to go to? And can they make it with the army and its other bizarre animal experiments on their no-pun-intended tails?
The story’s simple, but the effects of the story are tremendous. It’s a brilliant, heartbreaking work, thanks to the ingenious way in which Grant Morrison writes the main characters– and yes, I refer to the animals. They speak, yes, but not perfect English or anything like that. A computer reads their emotions and whatnot and translates as best it can. The dog, Bandit, designated “1,” constantly and earnestly asks questions and seeks approval, trying to be a “gud dog” for his master. The cat, Tinker, a.k.a. “2,” hates humans (“SSSST!NK BOSS!”) and mostly fends for herself, until her friends need her help. The rabbit, known as Pirate and “3,” is not as elaborate in its speech as the others, speaking in short one-word balloons in quick bursts (“No. Grass. Eat. Now. Eat.”) Morrison writes them as the animals they are, rather than as anthropomorphic representations. It’s masterful work. The animals are desperate to find home. They might not know where that home is anymore, but they know one thing– “Home is run. no. more.”
We all know G-Mozz is a fan of animal rights, and you’ll be an activist by the time you finish reading this. It’s a story about humanity’s mistreatment of animals in the name of science and progression that only shows how baser the humans are than the animals they terrorize. It’s also a horror story, though, as the poor animals do terrible things in an attempt to find safety. They’re just defending themselves, but it does get scary. There are twists and turns in their journey, including some frightening bits, some really sad bits, and some punch-the-air hoot-and-holler awesome bits. My only story complaint was that Weapon 4 wasn’t a gorilla, but maybe that would’ve been out of place. Ha.
Quite frankly, Frank Quitely’s art is to die for. He really needs his own Reason entry. His work in We3 is utterly gorgeous. Even the people who complain that Quitely draws ugly people don’t have much to complain about, as the stars of the book are beautifully-drawn animals. The thing that really gets me, though, is how Quitely redefined comic book storytelling with this graphic novella. He actually manages to depict “bullet time” in a static image. He finds new ways to draw action scenes, splicing little details into a bigger image, or having 2 move so fast as to jump between panels, or 1 burst through one panel and end up in another one below it, shaped so that it appears to be three-dimensional on a two-dimensional plane. There are loads of great touches, including x-ray panels and character placement and word balloon experiments.
The memorable escape sequence consists of six pages with an eighteen panel grid, which are all shown from the POV of security cameras. Finally, the reader turns the page and finds a breathtaking double-page splash of the We3 animals leaping through the sky, accentuating the feeling of freedom after the claustrophobic panel layout before it. When Morrison and Quitely collaborate, they produce some of the greatest comic book visualizations ever.
We3 is a terrific comic by two brilliant creators. It doesn’t get much better than this, and that’s all there is to it. Have you read it? What did you think? I think it’s one of Morrison’s most mainstream-acceptable works. Share it with your friends!
Because of its awesome visual style, We3 would make a great movie. Luckily, it’s going to be one. Brendon of FilmIck calls G-Mozz’s screenplay for the We3 film the best unproduced script he’s every seen. You can find all three parts of his script review at this link. I can’t wait. I’ll be first in line. So long as they don’t screw it up.
Lastly, here’s a fun We3 spoof that I found on the internets by Eddie Robson and Si Penter (click to jumbo-size):
Well, that’s all I got today. Join us tomorrow, as I talk about WHAT THE!?!? AAAAAAHHHHHHH
“SSSSSSST!INK BILL!” *splutch!*
Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.