Comic Review: Girls, The Complete Series (Part 1)

Image result for girls by the luna brothers(WARNING: MINOR SPOILERS, ADULT LANGUAGE, AND ADULT CONTENT AHEAD)

Girls, by the Luna Brothers, is over a decade old. The series was first published in 2005-2007, a total of 24 issues. Now the complete series can be read by Comixology Unlimted subscribers. I’m a little over half way through–I think I’m on issue 16, so here are my thoughts thus far.

Premise: Ethan is a city boy. He moved to Pennystown for a change of pace and took a job at the local grocery store. When he goes on a sexist tirade at the local tavern he ruins the good faith he’d build up over the last year or so. After being thrown out of the tavern, while sitting in the gutter he screams a primal “FUCK!” to the world and a giant boom shakes the town. It’s so loud, this boom, that it breaks windows, makes glasses fall off shelves, things like that. Typically, I wouldn’t bring up a character in the premise of a piece. The premise of any fantasy or science fiction story is typically independent of the characters, then the characters are added in and the author (and reader) see how this fantastical or scientific element makes them act. However, I think it’s important to start with Ethan because his sexist tirade, while literally unrelated to the subsequent events, is the metaphoric catalyst for this whole comic, as is his sexual frustration, having broken up with his girlfriend six months earlier.

When Ethan is driving home (yeah, he’s driving home drunk) he slams on his breaks See the source imagewhen he sees a beautiful naked woman step out of the woods. He gets out of his car and covers her up with a jacket and tries to get some words out of her, but she won’t speak. He takes her home and makes her food. He tries to give her close, but she doesn’t seem to want to keep them on. She seduces him, even though she hasn’t said hardly anything, he doesn’t know her name, or where she came from. All he knows about her is how beautiful she is.

The next morning, when he wakes up, she is in the bathroom moaning as though she is sick. He goes to get help, finds the one, and only, police officer, Wes, and together they go to Ethan’s. When they open the bathroom door, the beautiful woman, still naked, has laid about a dozen eggs all over the floor. Some of them have grown really large, like armchair large. Then they begin to hatch and exact clones of the woman emerge. A crowd has gathered in front of Ethan’s. A bunch of townsfolks want Wes to kick Ethan’s ass for his sexist remarks the night before. But then the clone girls burst from the house and begin attacking the crowd. Later it is discovered that these beautiful clones only attack the women, trying to kill them. When Wes, the police officer, tries to evacuate the town, they are met by an invisible wall. They are stuck. It’s a bit like Under The Dome by Stephen King, but with egg laying supermodels that take only 12 hour gestation period. Furthermore, these women aren’t really people, either, they’re more like animals, they can’t speak their own words, they only mimic what they have heard in the last few minutes. They also eat the dead and small animals. It’s a clever twist on zombies, without being zombies.

Characters: This is where this comic REALLY thrives. While it all starts with Ethan he is, in no way, the sole protagonist. He may be the main character, more or less, but he certainly isn’t always the focal point of the emotional plots crisscrossing these pages. There are just a ton of characters in this series and they all have their own baggage, motives, personalities. At first, they seem like caricatures of people who’ve probably met, but the farther into this comic you go the more complex you’ll find everyone to be. The Luna Brothers are absolute geniuses in terms of visual storytelling. Characters who seem two dimensional at first end up making decisions that are interesting and surprising, but also feel completely rational and earned. I can’t stress how difficult it is to create See the source imagecharacters that readers will say, “Wow I did not see that coming, but now that is has happened it makes total sense.” Characters in this comic make surprising decisions that feel inevitable. This is just a masterful piece of storytelling.

Themes and Subject: On the outside, this could be called literature of the absurd. The plot is bizarre, the images are wild and puzzling, the plot is addictive. But the truth this comic tells and the themes involved are much more literary.

This story focuses on much of the animalistic nature that we, as a society, deny ourselves. The desire to fuck indiscriminately, anyone we want, is not socially acceptable and is dangerous due to STDs. Many of the male characters in this comic know they shouldn’t find these alien egg laying women attractive, but they all do. Despite the fact that these women aren’t actually human and are trying to kill the human woman of the town–many of the men simply can’t resist the temptation of beautiful, and dare I say fertile, women. Women who have one purpose in life, to become impregnated. On a biological level, procreation and the survival of our species is the only point of existence. That’s what the girls in Girls represent. Survival. The drive to survive. The drive to eliminate genetic competition from the world.

See the source image Humanity is better off people to suppress our survival and domination instincts. Tribalism is normal. Living in harmony with people unlike you, from different backgrounds, cultures, and worldviews–that’s something new. It goes against the human-survivalist nature–the one that saw tribes kill and enslave each other, Europeans eradicate indigenous populations. It’s what pitted Athens against Sparta, The allies against The Axis, Capitalism against Socialism (because let’s face it, they can be married to good effect, but the two have had tribes form around them). While this can be seen on a huge scale it can also be seen on a much smaller one. Real Madrid vs Barcelona, Red Sox vs Yankees, Packers vs Vikings. That’s what this comic is really about when extrapolated.

Well, I’m not going to touch on the art in this post. I’ll save that for Part 2, once I finish the series. As of right now, entering issue 16, I would recommend this to anyone who likes complex characters and bizarre premises that touch on the deeper truths of human existence and nature.

 

How Routines Can Break Conventions

Routine is important. especially for a writer. If you don’t write, around the same time each day, you simply won’t write at all. This can feel conventional, and I think the best writers try to break free of convention, but this convention breaks itself. In fact, I believe all conventions break themselves if they are purposefully created and maintained. While building a routine for your day is a convention that most, if not all adults, thrive on, once the routine has been kept for a certain amount (a long) time, it is no longer convention as the routine you have built has taken you so deeply into your craft that you are discovering more everyday–and so the act of the routine is confined to convention, but the honing of your craft, which is a convention in and of itself, breaks down the deeper into that craft you go.

Think of it like this: A convention is something many people do. Right. It’s conventional, it’s the norm. Someone might say, “I go on a run everyday,” and that seems like a normal thing–many people run everyday, or at least try and sometimes they miss a day and that’s fine. But if someone says, “I go on a run everyday, and I haven’t missed a day for three years,” suddenly that normality has been shattered. The same can be true of any routine when it is taken to extremes. Extremes break convention whether it means meditating for 365 consecutive days in a row, or writing for ten minutes on a “write or die” style word dump program like I’m doing right now everyday. Of course, I’m not writing everyday. Not on this blog, anyway. I’m the runner who misses a day now and then, and it’s not a setback, it’s not a bad thing necessarily, but what does extreme lengths of repetition do to conventions? My understanding is that it makes you a master at the craft you’ve poured your heart and soul into. It makes you an expert at whatever it is you love.

Normal People and Not-Normal People

Even though I couldn’t read well when I was young I can now. Obviously, right? But now it’s often all I want to do. I love stories and characters and adventures. Sometimes I like adventures more than characters and other times characters more than adventures. I think this is why we have genres in fiction at all. People are multifaceted so they need thrillers and fantasy and science fiction, and some even need romance, and on the other side of all those things they also need literature.

It fulfills similar needs, but different aspects of being human. It’s like this: great people do profound things that change the world, but profound things happen to normal people all the time in the quiet of their own little lives, and these profound things and important moments for “normal people” are just as interesting when it comes to a study of the human condition as is the profound things geniuses do. That’s why stories of grand adventures and magnificent people are popular, but it’s also why the man who sips his tea and goes through an existential crisis at the same time in literary fiction is just as valuable–maybe more so.

I think, sometimes, it’s those little moments that feel the most momentous to normal people like myself. I don’t know if you’re normal or not, but if you are then you’ll understand, and if you’re not normal, then congratulations for not being a conformist. I don’t know if it’s good or bad to be normal–normal people can understand each other in some ways and not in others and I think not-normal people sometimes (but not always) can’t understand anyone ever. Or at least less frequently. But, you know what’s really funny? Nobody, normal and not-normal people, can understand themselves at all. So in the end everyone has this one thing in common: we don’t understand why we do what we do or why we feel how we feel. But a lot of the time we can understand why other people feel a certain way, and sometimes we might even say this, but rarely, and even more rarely the other person we can understand might actually believe us.