My main attraction to stories is the mythology… I love the worlds that writers can create, and how they choose to populate those worlds. I adore works like Lost and Twin Peaks, and anything Kurt Vonnegut has written. Mystery! Intrigue! Doppelgangers! I don’t want to say I’m attracted to gimmicks, but a rich setting can really hook me on a narrative.
I was talking to Justin Madson at SPX a few weeks ago, and he sold me on his series Breathers almost instantly. I think his exact words were “Something’s happened to the air, and it’s not safe to breath anymore.” And my response was probably “We could have a beautiful life together if you’d run away with me right now.”
What happened to the air? Was it some sort of weapon, some naturally occurring event, or just an accident? How do people deal with that? They have to wear these gas mask things that are pictured on the cover? Like, all the time? What happens when they do breath the air? Do they EXPLODE?! My brain was freaking out, and I bought every issue and read through them almost immediately.
Interestingly enough, this series is really good. Premise, characters, art and writing all deliver, which I’ve found to be quite rare in self-published books. Each issue of Breathers is broken up into several loosely connected vignettes. I think this is what hooked me: each character is exploring a different aspect of the world, so a single issue touches on many different themes. There’s a detective who is addicted to hallucinogenic filters for his breather, a suicidal woman who believes the air is actually safe and the whole mess is just a conspiracy, and a young girl who focuses on escapism with the help of her (partially) imaginary dragon companion. This is the rich stuff One Eyed Willy was talking about!
There’s also a lot of smart people junk going on in this story, but this is Stresslines, where we take everything at face value. That last sentence was probably the nerdiest joke I’ve ever come up with, and if you don’t get it, consider yourself lucky. If you do get it: you’re in too deep. Stop reading comics immediately.
Breathers is allegedly wrapping up with the forthcoming fifth issue. I really recommend checking it out, and not just because it’s self published. This is better than most of the monthlies I read from DC and Vertigo, and I hope that everyone gets a chance to experience it.