My only previous exposure to Medaglia was through his philosophical anthology, Wu Wei, and you can see some of that peaceful, introspective, philosophical nature coming out in Seasons, the same sense of calm reflection upon life, of settling back and observing the world and its people is here, as we watch four strangers at different points in their lives and capture just a snapshot of their part in the season cycle.
Well, darling, don’t you ever sit and ponder
(Darling, did you ever think?)
About the building of the hills a yonder
(All this life stuff’s closely linked)
Where we’re going in this verdant spiral
Who’s pushing the pedals on the season cycle?
(Round and round and round and round)
(XTC, The Season Cycle - because it’s what I immediately thought of with the phrase Season Cycle)
Seasons by Mike Medaglia tells a familiar theme, looking at the passing of seasons in the year and comparing them to the seasons of our lives. It does so with four short, poetic tales, just 4-pages long each, that speak a brief, but powerful truth about the moments of our lives. You’ll easily recognise and empathise with the characters here, they’re you, or they will be, these generic characters capture the essence of their particular moment, vague enough to feel universal, but still containing enough truth to seem right.
The passing of time and the passing of the year has always attracted writers and poets across the ages. The trick is to do something with it to interest and excite, it’s far too easy to trot out the same old, same old.
Medaglia’s spin on the old tale is interesting, beautifully illustrated, but just doesn’t quite make it out of good, never quite graduates to great. I wanted something a little more than I found in Seasons, which is little more than a standard allegory of the four ages of man. It’s on the cusp of greatness…. but not quite.. not yet.
Each 4-page tale gives us a simple tale, each of which is certainly done well, so well in fact that we can’t help but fill in the missing pieces of these lives presented to us, both past and future; the young lad, seven years-old, worried about his family, full of childish innocence represents spring and all the potential it brings, all the possibility. The teen girl, young and alive, just starting to discover boys, she’s summer. Two middle-aged men, commiserating with each other about the course of their lives, realising now that it’s too late to change, they’re the epitome of autumn, where winter draws near, that everything is getting colder every day. Which brings us to the end, to winter, as we watch an old lady and her carer, and a moment where the age is forgotten in a white blast of self-realisation.
These short pieces focus on each stage, making us ponder and fill in the character gaps as we read, Medaglia sketches these characters for us, his relaxed, simple artwork laying everything out so easily for us to see, yet his themes so universal we can’t help but let our minds fill in the before and afters.
It’s an emotive comic, giving the reader just enough to form an opinion, to get the briefest of ideas of what these characters are like, and then to move on to the next. The clever part, the part Medaglia does so well is in making his characters interesting enough in just four pages that we really want to invest in them. Medaglia does so much so well here in Seasons, but it’s not quite enough to make the sentimental side of me completely fall in love with Seasons. It has all the right elements that could, if done right, have me wiping away those oh so predictable tears, but it’s just falling short. I closed this one feeling I’d read something interesting, something beautifully crafted, something that will possibly count, in years to come, as the early work of someone great in UK comics. But it doesn’t quite work, or perhaps it simply doesn’t quite work for me?
Seasons is another interesting release from Avery Hill Publishing, who are slowly, quietly, yet steadily garnering a reputation for picking some interesting works. They’ve not quite had something that ticks all the boxes quite yet, but they’re going to one day. Ones to watch for sure.