From time to time Andrew slides a bunch of comics in front of my face and says “read these”. As I am a man who loves his graphic storytelling I’m more than happy to oblige but the resultant experience is a crapshoot on the level of watching a mystery Nic Cage movie at random. Are you gonna get Raising Arizona or are you gonna get crazy woman bear puncher? What I’m saying is sometimes the books are fantastic, oftentimes mediocre, and on select occasions they should only be used to line the baboon cage at the zoo.
Now a few weeks back one of the aforementioned “times” arose and Andrew presented me with a stack of books. Unfortunately, I only recently had the time to review them and I’m a little upset with myself, to be honest, as I could’ve been telling you all about how brain-seizingly awesome the subject of this week’s column is a whole whack of time ago and we could be sharing our thoughts about it with each other right this very second over some delicious scones or something more my speed, like a garbage bag full of barbecued side ribs, because I’m a weirdo and really like ribs.
Rather than that delightful exchange, you instead get to read me ramble on. It’ll be a rather one-way experience. I apologize.
WRITER/ARTIST – James Romberger
What will happen when the ice-caps melt? When the oceans rise, and reclaim the land? What will happen to the world’s great cities and the people unfortunate enough to be left behind in their ruins? Will the world become as the great prophet Kevin Costner predicted? Covered by endless oceans and ruled by oil-obsessed madmen? Or will it be more as was foretold by the sanctified Sun Tots? Covered by endless oceans and ruled by… oil.. obsessed… madmen…
With POST YORK, Writer/Artist James Romberger says nay to both as the book contains neither oil nor madmen… at least so far. Rather this is the tale of a New York City that has nearly been swept away by the deluge and the hearty (or just plain stubborn) citizens who remain in their beloved metropolis. This is the story of life in the shadow of an environmental apocalypse and the strength and resolve of the people who not only manage to somehow survive but also carve a semblance of their past lives from their harsh new reality.
In POST YORK the city so nice they named it twice is now a half-sunken, Venice-like ruin best navigated by boat. Unlike Venice, however, NYC was never built with such an existence in mind and so the pressure of the waves has washed half of the buildings away while the other half precariously awaits the the same eventuality. Refusing to abandon the city they love, survivors remain within the waterlogged mausoleums. The lives they lead are simple, and fraught with their own unique dangers, but still possessed of small moments of happiness.
Whenever James Romberger produces comic work it’s a rare treat, and POST YORK is no different. His personal stake in the work and how much of himself has been poured into each panel makes the experience resonate far beyond the turning of the last page. The level of panel-to-panel storytelling is just spectacular and, as a testament to Romberger’s skill at the drafting table, the sparsity of dialogue never becomes a detriment. In fact, one of the tale’s greatest strengths is just how closely a reader will be drawn to analyze each frame, inspecting the small environmental details and subtle facial acting as well as the bigger, more obvious moments. When I did my first read through of the book I didn’t even notice how much I was doing just that until I reached that final page and realized I’d been pouring over the comic for thirty minutes. Given that issue one of POST YORK is only 37 pages long that’s saying something.
Beyond the traditional comic art lies even more cool as Romburger has teamed up with his son Crosby to make the book into a multimedia experience. To that end, Crosby contributes a pretty bad ass hip hop tune that works as a soundtrack to the comic and can be heard on a flexidisc that’s included with the book or online at postyork.com. Played as a backing track to the read, the music creates a unique experience that actually generates a very different mood from the traditional silent one. I recommend both.
POST YORK is a portent of what awaits mankind if we continue down our current path unabated but never comes across as heavy-handed. At it’s heart, it’s about perseverance, strength of will, and in a weird way, adventure. If you ever have the good fortune of seeing Romburger at a con, I highly recommend you pick this up, but if you don’t you can always order it through postyork.com.
A drowned-Earth tale with neither a Dennis Hopper nor Smoggie in sight? You’re so WEIRD, Multiverse!
…and that’s why I love you.
Remember, if you’re gonna GEEK OUT, GEEK HARD!
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