I read recently about a “new” comic arc written by Neil Gaiman. Being a big fan of Gaiman’s writing, I inquired about it at the local comic store. The owner said that it was originally written in the 1990’s and only part of the series was ever published, and that they were finally releasing the rest of the arc. He got the six original issues for me and said the first “new” issue is scheduled to be release in March.
I really enjoyed this first installment. It is classic Gaiman writing, rich in mystical symbolism. The writing is augmented nicely by Mark Buckingham’s artwork, which feels surrealistically modern, yet appears classical in style.
In this first issue, four pilgrims are climbing the stairs of a massive temple to reach their god, Miracleman, where they can pray directly to him. The climb is symbolic of the struggle one must take to attain a spiritual goal, where each level represents a stage in the spiritual ascension.
I ache all over. The rhythms of the climb begin to imprint themselves on my consciousness. Step after step after step, hour after hour, until we reach the next floor. Then we walk around the inside of this tower of miracles, through hall after hall filled with oddments and delights of every shape and kind, until we reach the bottom of the next rung of stairs. And up.
One of the floors of the temple is a hall of mirrors. The mirrors symbolize the stage in the spiritual quest when one begins to examine oneself through the lens of altered consciousness, seeing yourself in new and myriad ways, catching glimpses of your subconscious mind.
I don’t know how long we spent on the hundred and fiftieth floor in the mirror halls. We must have walked for miles, looking for a way up, or a way out, finding only mirrors. Regular mirrors, row after row of them. Distorting mirrors, that made us look fat, or thin, or twisted. And other mirrors. Taipek said he saw an angel in one of them. I didn’t see any angels. In one mirror I saw myself naked. In another I was looking out at myself, but I was holding up a piece of paper.
I love a graphic novel that uses visual art and written word to explore the intricacies of the mystical and the subconscious. This clearly falls into that category of graphic novel. I am eager to delve into issue 2.