I'd been waiting for this one. Epilogue is the final part in a sequence of comics from Northern Ireland artist Stuart McCune and his Millicent Barnes imprint and it was worth waiting for.
His words, mainly a first person narration, are carefully selected and at
times have a strange formality to them. This is a comic that benefits
from a re-reading or two. The ending changes much of what has gone
before. What seemed superfluous, sometimes meaningless dialogue, gains
significance and at least one phrase which I took to be a mistake on first
reading suddenly becomes an early clue to the twist in the story.
It is not a one-dimensional piece either, Stuart weaves multiple themes into
this comic. There is the story itself, but then there are little asides
about the nature and artificiality of art. At one point one of the
characters insists that sometimes it isn't enough to consider a painting on its
own, but that we should look at the actual paint. An
interesting idea in terms of a comic which I find myself picking up to look at
individual pages separate from the whole.
The whole tenor of Epilogue is oppressive, even when the characters are in a
boat on the open sea, a dark sky gathers round them closing their world
down. Some of Stuart's previous comics have made great use of open space,
with areas of solid colours giving the pages an out-of-doors, open
feeling. Not so with Epilogue. The colour palate is dark and
oppressive, with strong reds and a sickly yellow standing out against browns
and other earthy shades Even the decision to print this book at the
smaller A5 size seems to add to the feeling of claustrophobia.
Epilogue was funded through Kickstarter, Stuart's fifth campaign. As
ever, everything was completed on time and perfectly presented. It's a
stunning comic, something very special and I've not done it justice here.
I said in my previous post that the Millicent Barnes books have been among
the highlights of my exploration of the self-published scene. I shouldn't
limit my praise, they are among the highlights of my comic reading. In
the eighties, when comics creators, and readers were trying to prove that graphic
storytelling was a legitimate art form there was too much pretentious attempts
at doing something different. Most of the attempts were incomprehensible
or ugly and boring. Epilogue achieves all of those artists’ aims by being
what it is.
You can buy Millicent Barnes Comics from Comixology or Big Cartel and its worth checking out the Millicent Barnes Tumblr site.