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27 June 2011

WYSTERIA by Brad McGinty (Hardback.)

Hand made hard back graphic novel.
196 pages.  Black and white.  Color cover.

This is not a review so much as it is me flat out commanding you to go buy this book.  I'm not going to say a lot new about the comics in this book here because I already reviewed four sixths of it in this extensive review of the original minicomics.  In that review I talked about Brad's wordless epic.  Here are some things I said for those of you too lazy to click the link:

Brad is creating a world here that is an abstraction of reality allowing the reader to translate every scene and even every panel based on their own intuitions, free of being directed what to think by dialog or narration. The abstract world and the heaviness of the silence force a more intimate connection with the character and the story if for no other reason than that you are forced to think more about each panel's meaning than you would be if you had the context clues of text. Silent comics can be a challenge to follow but Wysteria has the right combination of pacing and dynamic art to keep you engaged. 


The art is fantastic and is probably what has kept me reading and re-reading it. Brad has a huge range. Scenes range from the lushness of Disney's Snow White to the psychedelic madness of Zap era Robert Williams or R. Crumb. Brad's inks are bold and fluid but can also be appropriately abrasive during scenes of violence. There is a consistency in the characters and the world he creates here that you seldom find in mini comics.


Brad has broken down the hero's quest in to its most essential archetypal elements. It is almost a story about storytelling itself. What is a story? The character/situation starts out one way and ends up another. The end. The character exists and then changes. Failure then redemption. Birth then rebirth. It make sense that our hero in Wysteria transforms into a sort of all-culture all-religion looking tribal mask totem creature because the story itself is about stripping away the character's flaws and reducing the character to his purest/primitive form while the storytelling is a study in the most essential basics of visual storytelling. 

Sounds pretty good huh?  Well it is.  It's great and now it's even better because it has an ending.  Reading it through as one book is a trilling experience.  Despite already knowing the gist of most of it I was still turning the pages furiously to find out what was going to happen next to our little bird totem guy.  It's a fun read and sets the imagination on fire.  
All of which is plenty enough reason to buy a copy but I also want to talk about what a great art object the thing is.  This is a hand bound book and it looks and feels great.  You can tell that it's hand made but it is made very well.  It looks great.  It feels great. It's just right.  I've had my copy on my kitchen table for almost a month now and I still want to pick it up each time I see it.  It's just a fun thing to look through and I expect to enjoy going back to it again and again for years.  

Brad has posted a great summary of how he made the books on his website.  Check that out and also watch the video I posted above for nice flip through.  Notice how black the blacks are.  So black that they look wet.  The print job is fantastic.  

So yeah.  Wysteria is a great looking book full of great comics.  Brad McGinty's art in this thing is amazing folks.  You are going to read through it over and over.  It looks like making them was a lot of hard work so you probably want to go buy a copy before Brad keels over. 

Your best pal ever,
Shannon Smith

p.s.  Did I mentiom "great"?
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