Tuesday, 9 September 2014

C.F's MERE: Not Reading, Experiencing


I wish I could say I read C.F's Mere. I didn't read it so much as experienced it. One goes through a spectrum of moods, mindsets and emotions while navigating this book. It is unlike anything you have ever seen before.

Mere is a collection of short and mini comics by comic artist and musician C.F. (Christopher Forgues) published in 2012. The now defunct publishing company Picturebox collects 11 comics in this book. Most of them are attempts at genre (Sci-fi, crime, etc.). There are no main characters or storyline, just experiments with form, movement, narrative structure and emotion.

An introduction by Nicole Rudick opens this collection. I have absolutely no idea who she is and no credentials are provided. A Google search directs me to her Linkedin (I hope it's the right person) and it indicates that she is an editor for The Paris Review. Regardless of this confusion, her essay allows the reader to naviguate this storm.

It is followed by shapes and letters made to resemble buildings. There are beds, wells and drippings. It's followed by a short story about a man who is being hunted and is running away from someone. He inhales enough air to blow his pursuant's head clean off.

What am I experiencing? How to combine all of those fragments into a cohesive whole? This becomes interesting as we move away from the realm of comics and into the work of modern art. It's an experiment in developing new ways of seeing genre. It is abstract and the reader must create meaning as it goes. One must transcend what is on the page and the convention of comics. John Berger explains in Ways of Seeing, that the way we see things is affected by what we know or what we believe. We are also looking at the relation between things and ourselves. When we get to the section of the book about Comb (a sci-fi police officer) for example, one expects to see certain convention laid out on the page. Yet C.F forces you to reconsider those conventions at every turn.

As one digs deeper, we are treated to various stories (Cyborg, Frel, Crime, Comb, etc.). Mere manages to evade any classification of storytelling and comics. It is in many ways inexplicable; one must experience it to comprehend, and even then, our meanings will all differ.

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