May 29th, 2002

"The Best Comic You Haven't Read..." writes Scott McCloud.

He's talking about Carla Speed McNeil's Finder, a series of sequential art SF stories about life in a world very different from our own. I've mentioned in previous LJ entries my difficulties with tomorrows that are todays with the serial numbers filed off. That's certainly not the case with McNeil's world building. Like Warren Ellis' Transmetropolitan or Jack Vance's fiction, Finder is set in a future so far removed from our own that we're nothing but mythology. Humans have become speciated (probably a result of forgotten genetic manipulations) and split into specialised clans, leaving a fragmented world of small settlements, domed cities and nomadic tribes. It's a world that's also shared with other intelligences - not just the ubiquitous AIs - but also dinosauroids, uplifted animals and the leonid Nyima. Civilisations have risen and fallen, there are hints of transcendences, lost technologies and offworld emigrations (as well as immigrations).

There have been three main story arcs within Finder to date (we're now 3 issues into the fourth), along with some associational material published elsewhere - including the delightful Mystery Date series. The first arc, Sin Eater introduces us to the world, along with one of McNeil's main characters, the eponymous Finder, Jaeger. But this isn't a typical adventure comic. This is a story of a dysfunctional family coming to terms with abusive relationships and loss, as well as the little issues of life in the city. Collected in two volumes, Sin Eater was followed by a shorter arc King of the Cats, an episode from Jaeger's earlier wanderings which explores the complex life of the Nyima clans. The third arc, Talisman is probably the best known, as it's here that McNeil tells a story about stories, about growing up, about discovery. It's one of the best pieces of sequential art around, showing just what the medium can do...

You can start reading Finder on the Light Speed Press website, where she's published 3 issues (including the first issue of the Talisman arc, which was what got me into Finder in the first place), as well as a delightful short set in a bookshop...

(So why am I writing about Finder? Well one way of supporting Carla Speed McNeil is to buy her self-published work directly from her website. It's well worth doing - my copies of Mystery Date arrived this morning, bundled with two small photocopied booklets of extra stories and footnotes. While those were expected, what was a lovely surprise was the pencil sketch for a page from the current Finder arc, Dream Sequence and a sketch of Jaeger on the compliments slip!)
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