Friday, May 06, 2016
The Puma Blues: The Complete Saga in One Volume by Stephen Murphy and Michael Zulli [1986-1989] (2015)
Our first selection is The Puma Blues: The Complete Saga in One Volume by Stephen Murphy and Michael Zulli (2015), a comic that was originally published in the late 80s, but brought together for the first time with some supplementary material and a newly written final chapter that brings us up to the present.
The most obvious (but probably not the most important) quality of this book is that it is FREAKING HEAVY. Do not bring this to read on a plane and if you are moving house, wait to buy a copy until you are settled in your new place. I'd say that is an argument for buying the electronic copy, but this is also a damn nice book, so just do as you see fit.
Murphy gives us a prescient narrative that is simultaneously mind-expanding and a little claustrophobic. The comic starts in the year 2000 (which would have been about fifteen years in the future when it was first published). The U.S. experienced a devastating act of domestic terrorism in 1995 when a nuclear weapon was set off in the Bronx. The environment is also going haywire and U.S. Agent Gavia Immer (our hero) is leading a solitary life in the woods tracking mutating animals (flying. manta. rays.) and measuring the ph levels of the water. He fills his time with video phone calls to his mom and some gut wrenching watching of old VHS movies his late father made that explore the existence of alien life forms. The amazing drawings by Zulli [do yourself a favor and check out a little Google Image search] perfectly match the (sometimes pretty abstract) tone of the writing, and his drawings of animals and the natural world are some of the best I've ever seen. The scenes from nature give the sometimes pretty dense narrative the room it needs to take effect, and also give the reader a little time to breathe.
The story is often universal, but sprinkled throughout are pretty intimate-feeling vignettes of lost parents, sexual encounters, weird dreams, and unspoken thoughts. It has a very 80s feel in its politics, technology, philosophies, and sexy ladies, but since domestic terrorism and environmental collapse are still pretty relevant topics, there is plenty to chew on here. This is a weird and wonderful book and I'm so glad I fell into it. Plus my arms are super strong now from carrying it around.