Independence Week: Day 4 – !

All this week we will be celebrating the true spirit of independence with self-published comics.    These brave men and women have broken free of their corporate masters and have taken on all the risks and responsibilities of publishing their own books.  Some will be successful.  Some will not.  But all represent the true spiriti of independence!

Today’s book is ! by Tymothi Godek.

I first learned about the book ! by Tymothi Godek when I was researching my story about the largest comics published. It came in a handy 5th place on the list at 35′ 5″. But, as the old adage goes, size isn’t everything. The real question is, how good is the comic?

Luckily, ! is as good a read as it is a measuring tool for the Olympic Triple Jump.

! is a complex love story that is told simultaneously from multiple perspectives. With the story flowing along such a massive canvass, the characters can physically and metaphorically move through the day, making decisions that alter their paths and bring them closer or further apart. There is also a message abut assumptions, over reactions, and lack of communication. Oh yeah. And did I mention there are robots and giant monsters?

This is a story of boy-meets-girl.

Some stuff happens before that, of course. And then some stuff happens after.

That’s how these things go.

This is a story of convergence and dispersal. It is a bout loneliness and expectation, action and chain reaction. This is a story about how everyone’s choices have consequences for everybody else and how the simplest intent can lead to unintended, sometimes dire result.

It’s also got a robot in it.

And a monster.

So that’s kind of cool.

Yes, ! has giant monsters, and flying robots, but is still, at its heart, a love story. Best of all, ! works on all of those levels. As a love story, the reader cannot help but hope that the two strangers’ paths eventually cross and they find the love they both need. The art is deceptively simple, with the characters not much more than stick figures, yet they are full of personality. The reader quickly empathizes with them and can feel their sadness and longing through the body language.

Normally the reader would also rely on the words of the character or the narrator. However, ! is entirely silent. The characters converse in symbols and gestures which are universally understandable. This just plays in to the universal message of the story. Sometimes we may misread someone’s intentions, or set something in motion that we did not intend, but love and longing are universal. Even with the flying robots and giant monsters, the story of ! is one with which everyone can associate.

I really liked that Godek took risks with the format. He didn’t just tell a story in one continuous strip of paper. He took a look at how he could best use the format and made something that could not be recreated in any other format. If this was just a standard comic, the story would not work as well. ! uses the massive format to its full advantage and creates something even better than a standard comic.

You can (and should) purchase the book directly from Godek. Click here to do so!

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