I’ve not mentioned it on the blog before, but myself and Loretta both enjoy the TV show Mad Men. It’s a joke between us that we have no idea why we enjoy it. It’s just people talking and living their lives, but it’s brilliant. Why the hell am I talking about Mad Men in a comic book review? Well, I was reminded of that same sort of feeling when reading How i Made the World #1. A semi-autobiographical issue about a young woman at college, written by Liz Plourde and drawn by Randy Michaels, there’s no big twist or flashy surprise, it’s just incredibly engaging.
The main story in How i Made the World #1 follows Liz in her sophomore year of college. Her entertaining narration gives us an insight into her thoughts as she goes about her day and comes across a challenging assignment that’s tougher than she expected. Although the main focus of the story is her attempt to overcome this obstacle, we also meet her roommates and fellow students, who all feel as authentically real as Liz herself.
There’s a soulful honesty to the issue that really shines through the narrative. I don’t know how much of Liz’s story is real and how much is fabricated, but I could absolutely accept the whole thing as truth. The narration feels so genuine it brings a warm and relaxed tone to the story, I don’t know the real Liz (beyond a very brief e-mail exchange anyway) but after reading this you feel like you’ve gotten a proper glimpse into a real person. It doesn’t feel self-indulgent at all, it’s actually the opposite, it feels vulnerably honest. Anyone who has been to college/university will find a familiar environment here, seeing the student life on page doesn’t feel cliché, it feels real. I laughed a couple of times while reading at the less than glamorous depiction of what it means to be a student. If you never stepped into higher education you’ll still be able to relate, what Liz goes through is far more familiar on an overall level. Sure, on the surface it’s about completing an assignment, but look harder and you can see it’s about much more. It’s about being young, it’s about friends, it’s about the pressure to succeed, it’s about being different, there’s a lot packed in here.
Speaking of the length, I was pleasantly surprised how much content is actually in here. There’s a meaty amount of story which translates into more pages than you’d get from a traditional mainstream comic. Since there’s plenty of dialogue throughout it also takes a bit of time to get through so you won’t be breezing through it. This is something you can sit down and really get into.
The black and white art by Michaels is a perfect match for the steady pace and thoughtful story. It’s got a realistic, but simple, depiction of reality that helps add to that grounded feel of the book. The art is also very clean, it’s a joy to read because you can simply flow through the art without any messy or difficult panels to speak off. Every panel is essentially spot on, backgrounds are equally as detailed as characters. The contrast between black and white is used creatively to differentiate from daytime and night scenes too, there’s one page in particular that shows a wide view of the stars amid a pitch black sky and I literally just stopped reading to take it in. I really can’t imagine the series having been illustrated any other way.
There’s a short bonus story in the back which is so charmingly adorable it’s almost worth getting the issue just to read it. While the main story is an honest introspective look at a time of creative struggle, the backup is about the wonders of childhood imagination. To be blunt, it’s hilarious. I’d be amazed if you could read it without being sent back to your own childhood and remembering all the silly things you wanted to believe. Young Liz’s expressive little eyes and lanky limbs perfectly capture that energetic feeling of youth. The art is so slightly shifted in style that’s it’s hard to notice, but the effect means it changes the tone to fit the goofier premise. I felt like I was seeing it from young Liz’s point of view, it’s that wonderfully warped look at the world that children have, which is so subtly portrayed here in both the writing and the art.
Overall, How i Made the World #1 is fantastic. It’s honest, it’s funny and it’s got heaps of charm. This is a comic that is absolutely worth checking out. The deadline pre-order date for the comic is closing in and if you know anything about comics you know that series’ live and die on pre-orders. If you want to give this new indie gem a look, then check out the website for more information or head on down to your shop and pop in an order, better if you can do it before the cutoff on April 23rd. If it feels like I’m being rather direct there it’s because, truth be told, I want this comic to succeed, after reading it I wager you will too.