Cheeseburger Gothic

Snow, by Benjamin Rivers

Posted March 17, 2014 into Comics by John Birmingham

Friday Night is comic night for JB. I buy a new episode of the series I'm following, reading it along with a couple of instalments of other issues – some one-offs, some long form. How do I not get ahead of myself? Bundles. Because the cost of digitally publishing back issues is zero, most graphic novel publishers are more than happy to release very generous bundles, sometimes as freebies, sometimes as ridiculously cheap deals.

Comixology, one of the best comic book houses, recently offered a huge bundle of a hundred or so titles for less than ten bucks. I leapt on it even though many of them were teaser issues. Some were complete arcs however, and one in particular I enjoyed was an unconventional tale in the sense that it was an entirely conventional story. Snow, by Benjamin Rivers, has no superheroes, no magic, no future tech, no fabled realms. Just a simple story that pulled me all the way in.

Four issues, simply drawn; the tale of Dana, a thirty-something employee of a failing bookstore in Toronto. It’s winter, the city is snowbound. The once groovy street on which Abberline Books does less and less business, while paying more and more rent, is caught in an urban decay spiral. Some stuff happens, Dana copes or doesn't cope. Life goes on.

I’m not sure why I enjoyed it so much, and found it difficult to put down. I think it was the way Rivers managed to capture the characters with such spare illustration and economy of writing. It reminded me a lot of my own time in Darlinghurst in the 1990s, the Felafel period. I wasn’t at all surprised to discover Snow will be released as a film this year. I was sort of surprised to find out it had also become a game, but then Rivers is a programmer of note as a well as an illustrator.

Having enjoyed it so much, and paid virtually nothing, I felt honour bound to point a few other readers in his direction. The page for Snow is here, while Rivers main site is a good place to catch up on his other work, graphic novels or games.

And yes, Orin, I have a few issues of Transmetropolitan somewhere on my pad, and no Orin I haven't read them yet.

7 Responses to ‘Snow, by Benjamin Rivers’

Darth Greybeard has opinions thus...

Posted March 17, 2014

Went to Comixology site. Damn you for pandering to my addiction JB. Now how will I get any work done?

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Halwes has opinions thus...

Posted March 17, 2014

Even after all these years and on the rare times I get to town, I can't walk past a comic shop without looking for old Phantom comics. I cherish the memories of the showbags in the 60's that always had one in them. I wish I'd kept them all now because they are worth big bucks. Another big favourite of mine is Asterix and Obelix. I also found some old Jolliffes' Saltbush Bill and Witchetys tribe books in a really great bookshop in Mackay last year. Expensive but pure gold.

Darth Greybeard puts forth...

Posted March 17, 2014

Boxes of Phantom comics, check. Asterix and Obelix, check. TinTin, check.

Have you read Blake and Mortimer? Despite the names it was started by a Belgian artist contemporary with Herge, and continued by others after his death. I like the "ligne claire" French and Belgian stuff and most by Bilal, Dargaud, Moebius and the naughty one whose name I can't recall. And Alan Moore and . . . damn JB again.

Lulu mutters...

Posted March 17, 2014

Asterix & Obelix and Tintin - check check check. I also have a soft spot for the French series of live action A & O films (with Gerard Depardieu as Obelox).

Halwes swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 17, 2014

I'll check the Blake and Mortimer comics out. The other ones I used to read non stop were the old war comics. I don't know how those krauts even got to the war they were so easy to knock off. Donner und Blitzen, Himmel and Achtung they were a good read. Another one that Aussies may remember was Captain Goodvibes the pig of steel. I've still got the whole world pigalogue which I bought for a dollar in 1974. I've still got a creditable collection of the Fabulous Furry Freak brothers comics ( I must drag them out again and see if they are still as funny) which were banned for a while.

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S.M. Stirling has opinions thus...

Posted March 17, 2014

Interesting comic. I used to live at the other end of that street. Of course, that was 20 years ago, and people then were saying how it wasn't what it used to be... 8-).

John Birmingham asserts...

Posted March 17, 2014

At the end of the iPad edition there's some really cool 'artist book' material which shows just how much work Rivers put into 'designing' the story world, even though it was a real world place.

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