Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #45 by Drew Barth
I love, and always will love, short works. Blasts of story and character that know the precise moment to end with the biggest impact possible. Warren Ellis in his newsletter years ago ruminated on the idea of a graphic novella that would fill this purpose: short bursts of story that can be picked up and read by anyone in a single sitting. Some works like Crécy, Frankenstein’s Womb, and Aetheric Mechanics had shown this basic idea of graphic novellas at work. Some ten years later, we now have the beginning of another graphic novella idea from Matt Fraction and Elsa Charretier in their new work, November.
November is a story in three parts that focuses on three different women over the course of a single night—the night before Halloween, or Devil’s Night. And this Devil’s Night is on the cusp of massive disaster. All three women are somehow connected to the disaster. One through a shady deal in a greasy diner, another through being a 9-1-1 dispatcher as the city burns, and another through the a serendipitous gun in a puddle. Each strand of story twists and ties together under the machinations of someone known only as Mister Mann.
What makes November so interesting in the scope of new graphic novels out this year is the collaboration between Fraction and Charretier. Fraction’s previous work on Hawkeye, Sex Criminals, and Casanova establishes November among his pantheon of wonderfully executed crime stories with interesting characters who can’t seem to stop fucking up. When tsuch storytelling is combined with the incredible art of Elsa Charretier—strengthened further by Matt Hollingsworth on colors—the hard noir feeling of November flourishes. And that noir feeling is hard to miss with a story so masterfully paneled and paced. Shadows abound for the dramatic shrouding of corrupt cops, but showing panels slowly crush characters as the city around them begins to violently erupt only bolsters that feeling of tension.
November is only the first part of a three-part graphic novella series. Fraction and Charretier are working toward what Warren Ellis had been theorizing about graphic novellas, but also working in the same vein as the Vertigo crime graphic novels from a decade ago. When thinking of ways to get more readers into comic shops and into comics in general as this is another good example of a new series being both fantastic in its storytelling and presentation as well as being something new for readers to look at on store shelves. November is another shot in the arm for comics,
Get excited. Comics evolve.
Drew Barth (Episode 331) is a writer residing in Winter Park, FL. He received his MFA from the University of Central Florida. Right now, he’s worrying about his cat.