Mindless Decade: Finding a Finder

February 25th, 2018

MIndless Decade: Ultimate Classic!

I often find myself being drawn into arguments where I know almost every example of the thing I’m defending is bad yet still feel compelled to argue for what I believe to a worthy principle.

“Text section in comic books” is one example. People can tell me that they’re often bad (they are!) or that good comics writers aren’t always good prose writers (they aren’t!) but no matter how many pointed examples they come up with I’ll still find myself determined to argue that they’re closing off possibilities we can’t afford to lose.

Carla Speed McNeil’s Finder provides a good, if typically atypical, counterargument.  Every time I read the comics sections I find my brain racing in a million new directions, lost, determined to find answers to questions I’m struggling to formulate.  Every time I read McNeil’s annotations I find myself presented with answers to a whole other set of questions, all of which are equally mysterious to me.

This shouldn’t work.

It does.

Finder is two different comics every time I read it…

Being the third of three posts on Carla Speed McNeil’s “aboriginal science fiction” comic Finder…

‘Well, enjoy yourself Lise,’ says the voice on the telephone. Send me a card.

‘Oh, of course,’ Lise says, and when she has hung up she laughs heartily. She does not stop. She goes to the wash-basin and fills a glass of water, which she drinks, gurgling, then another. She has stopped laughing, and now breathing heavily says to the put telephone, ‘Of course. Oh, of course.’

(Muriel Spark, The Driver’s Seat)

I’ve never made a secret of the fact that I hate bildungsromans, but I’m not sure if I hate them because they suggest that life can follow a neatly conclusive trajectory and mine’s hasn’t, or if my life hasn’t followed a neat trajectory because I hate bildungsromans.  Either way, I found myself sizing up Finder: Voice and feeling even more cynical than I did when I first encountered the front piece to Finder: Talisman.

Thankfully, from the cover on in, Voice is a little bit more complicated than that:

Click here to get truly and deeply lost in one of the best comics of the year!

Being: the second of three posts on Carla Speed McNeil’s “aboriginal science fiction” comic Finder…

He did not want to compose another Quixote —which is easy— but the Quixote itself. Needless to say, he never contemplated a mechanical transcription of the original; he did not propose to copy it. His admirable intention was to produce a few pages which would coincide—word for word and line for line—with those of Miguel de Cervantes.

“My intent is no more than astonishing,” he wrote me the 30th of September, 1934, from Bayonne. “The final term in a theological or metaphysical demonstration—the objective world, God, causality, the forms of the universe—is no less previous and common than my famed novel. The only difference is that the philosophers publish the intermediary stages of their labor in pleasant volumes and I have resolved to do away with those stages.” In truth, not one worksheet remains to bear witness to his years of effort.

(J.L. Borges – ‘Pierre Menard Author of the Quixote’)

You find yourself bored and lost in your local comics shop on a crisp Thursday afternoon.  You’ve exhausted all your usual favourites, or at least, you’re pretty sure that you’re not paying that amount for that hardcover collection today.  Thankfully whoever does the ordering for your local shop has anticipated your boredom, and has made sure that one of Carla Speed McNeil’s Finder comics is waiting there on the shelf for you.

You’ve read a lot about Finder and — your friend Cat’s admonition that you “like music that’s fun to read about instead of music that’s fun to listen to” still fresh in your ears — you have to admit that this counts for a lot for you.

The specific Finder comic that’s in front of you is Talisman:

You seem to remember that this is a particularly well-regarded volume. What was it Douglas Wolk said about it in his Reading Comics? Ah yes:

McNeil didn’t entirely hit her stride until the fourth Finder volume, Talisman, and it’s not a coincidence that it’s her most tightly focused story: it’s about a girl who falls in love with a book, loses it, and becomes a writer in her attempts to find it again.

Well, imagine that–a storyteller inspired by other people’s stories!

Click here to watch me struggle to escape from the confines of language as only a comics blogger can!