From Sand To Sky – Stylebook
(The whole package, including my carpet, which looks wonderfully clean and new here)
Well, I know it’s Graeme Mcnee but nothing inside this beautiful little lithographed pamphlet tells me it’s him. Well, nothing except his artwork, which I’ve previously seen in the very minimal Minimal Comics and the very enjoyable community based comics An Afternoon In Ueno and Shioya Stories. In that latter comic McNee said he was trying to work more at depicting life in a more figurative style, and this must, I assume, be an extension of that.
22 pages, no narrative, not comics really (although we’ll argue that later), From Sand To Sky’s descriptive subtitle of “Stylebook” really does capture what it is. Simple pages showcase people and their clothes, occasionally expanding to include backgrounds, men, women and children, moms, dads, hipster 20-somethings, rebel teens with retro Sonic Youth tees and Rough Trade bags… all life is here.
It’s really lovely, the artwork showing us (and McNee) that the artist is more than capable at this whole figure thing, details don’t have to mean a loss of the minimal style, backgrounds no impediment to simplicity of form.
The whole package is simply gorgeous, even down to the envelope it came in. Once inside the actual comic is held in a plain brown paper bag, just the title giving you any clue as to what’s inside. After that is the comic itself; a deep black cover where the title is just visible, a frontispiece of beautiful blue, “Spring 2014” atop a simple yet evocative scene of spring in the city, trees in bloom, blossom or birds circling around. And inside that, wonderfully textured brown paper pages.
You don’t get this feeling with digital you know.
(I’m particularly proud of the way my carpet changed colour there)
Now, the whole comic / not comic question. It isn’t. Not really. Or at least it wasn’t on the evidence of the first 10 pages on first viewing. It was simply a collection of images, a lovely collection of art sure, but no sequential narrative.
But then there’s a weird shift, an image so incongruous it leaps off the page, something almost Hernandez Bros about it, the action of adding something or someone really outlandish to a normal human cast.
Suddenly I’m attentive, mind springing into action, questioning, wondering why, and in that wondering there’s the beginning of a narrative, not one implicit on the page but one made from my reactions to what I’ve seen.
Read it again and, with knowledge of what’s to come, my mind was thinking (heck, maybe over-thinking it) about a story from the start, embellishing, inventing storylines and connections, relationships and events. So yes, in the end, From Sand To Sky is comics, or at least it is to me. Disagree if you want, but I’m sticking with it. One thing we all agree on though – it does look ever so good.