The Middle Ground #42: Voyages Of Discovery
It’s hard to explain quite why I love Kevin Cannon’s Far Arden as much as I do. Is it because of the humor, or the cliches it both embraces and kicks over in a rush to the next part of the story? Is it Cannon’s art, which seems intimate in its lack of slickness, but also offering a complete and believable world in and of itself? Or is it the fact that I discovered it completely by accident, and found myself bowled over despite (or because of) my lack of preconceptions?
Okay, I think we all know that the real answer is “Probably the first and second, with a little bit of the third thrown in,” but sadly for you, it’s the third that is on my mind this afternoon. I’ve previously despaired to myself about the amount of great material that comes out these days. It’s not just that I don’t have time to read it all, but also that I don’t have enough money to buy it all and stick it on a pile to read later (The list of books that await some unknown windfall in my probably distant future breaks my heart, so I’ll spare you this time), and even more importantly, I don’t have the brainspace or time to find out about everything that’s out there and worth reading in the first place. It’s a nice, comforting thought to think that the good will out, and great works will somehow discover champions who’ll get the word out, but that’s really not the way it works (Case in point: Far Arden is so up my alley that I wonder whether I should rename said alley “Far Arden Alley,” yet I can’t think of anyone who’s ever recommended it to me, nor many – if any – lists of Great Graphic Novels that’ve included it).
There’s an upside to this, of course; you can find things by accident – in my case, in the local library – and fall in love unexpectedly, which somehow sweetens the whole experience. It’s one of the joys of backlist, I guess; that material stays out there and available, waiting for some kind of discovery to happen as if it’s fated. And that’s a great thing, truly. There’s something about finding a book (or a movie, or an album, or whatever) that you love completely on your own that makes you love it just a little more, I think, and makes you into the evangelist, telling people that they should really read/watch/hear this incredible thing, and that’s the kind of experience that leaves you with a love for something that never really goes away, and yet…
…And yet, it breaks my heart that something as funny, as confident and intelligent and romantic and and and just plain enjoyable as Far Arden can go unnoticed, and need to be discovered. It breaks my heart that things this good – and, seriously, go and find a copy of Far Arden if you haven’t, especially if you liked Set To Sea by Drew Weing; it’s not the same kind of thing, but it feels like it comes from the same place, and is treated with the same melancholy, in its own way. It’s well, well worth checking out – can slip through the cracks, in part because there’s so much good stuff out there that it can. What else is out there that’s this good, this much fun to read, that I don’t know about? And how lucky do I have to be to find it, just like I did Far Arden?