Canadian Ben Harvey‘s The New Look is a very particular dystopian Sci-Fi dive into a future where style is literally king. It’s a wonderful piece of art which is actually available for free on Ben’s site Beyond the Last Gate. but you should also be able to find it on the small press shelves of a good sized comic shop. I got mine from Gosh! London.
So I read the paid version, and I’m really glad that I did. It has the typical indie/(very) small press printing, but that’s good, I like that, it makes me feel hipster and cool, so I can flash it like I actually know things about “real” art and stuff. (I really don’t). Luckily I had just the chance to do that in a local drinkery … if only I owned skinny jeans, then the look would’ve been complete. Anyhow, this look, The New Look, had me chuckling crazily aloud whilst I was sat there imbibing, completely ruining the cool that I had originally set out to gain from it. Never have I been so betrayed by comics!
Harvey’s story uses something that you may or may not be familiar as a central tenet of the book, the ‘arcology’. An arcology is (in case you weren’t aware) basically a self sufficient city within a single massive superstructure. Think the “blocks” in Mega City 1, or the Sim City 2000 arcologies … which … were … arcologies.
In this world these are dispersed across a desertous future, with what seems like many, many miles between them. It’s entirely possible that each is driven by its own ID, too, given what we do see here, but that might be a little too much to assume. All the same, as alluded to earlier, in ARCOLOGY-CITY: FUTURIA XI “Style is man himself.”
Harvey’s use of colour only on what’s important pulls you around with ease over clean lines, hipster ruination, distinctive characters, and lovely androgyny.
It’s also a *super* compressed story (and thus shall this review be compared to usual) which ably takes a culture in the worst drought ever and on the brink of death through to a happy ending (if you’re a fan of empires) all within 10 pages.
There’s a slightly black humour to it, too, a po-faced main character bringing you darkly through to the necessities of life. But you’ll really love the timing that comes through that. Brutal fun.
Seriously, I can’t recommend this lovely book enough. I loved reading my copy, and as I mentioned earlier it has a weirdly hypnotic way of pulling you through the pages with the colouring of the principle cast.
Pick this up if it’s in your store, or read it on the website. But definitely read it. Maybe remember it for this years BC awards, too.
Superior storytelling. Want more Ben Harvey, plskthx.
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//comic imagery © 2014-2017 Ben Harvey
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