By Dustin Cabeal
To be honest and upfront, I’m not sure I understood this comic book. That’s not something that’s fun to write because any reviewer hopes that they “got” the material so that they can review it properly. The thing with I’m Not Here is that it’s very abstract. It relies on the reader to make their own guesses and assumptions.
What makes the journey worthwhile is the fantastic artwork. It’s photo realistic and reminds me a lot of a style I’ve seen from French artists. I know that that style has a name, but I’ll be damned if I know it or can find it on the internet. I can find a dozen wrong answers, just not the right one. Anyway, it’s a style that is both beautiful, photorealistic and yet somehow still cartoonish with its animated feel. It drives the story while being in all black and white. The contrasts are wonderfully used. That and the range of gray coloring used far exceeds what a lot of other artists manage in the medium.
As for the story. Fuck me; I wish I got it. I can’t tell if it’s about a woman stealing another woman’s life or living a double life. There’s one part in which her mother’s arm is off, but then later she’s using the same arm to eat with, so I don’t know if she’s just that good with a prosthetic or if that was a metaphor. There’s a lot I don’t get, and I read it twice. It’s not that I disliked any of it, but I wonder if it’s perhaps too vague. Part of me wonders if she’s moving on with her life after her mother’s death… There’s just so many ways I feel it can be interrupted and I wish I knew if I was on the right track or at the very least if I knew there was a right track, to begin with. I’m sure someone else will read it, and it will click with them, and I will be envious of that person. Again, I don’t read solicits so this could be answered in the solicit, but for me, the story should be able to tell me that information and that’s it’s one failure.
While the story is very abstract and strange, I still enjoyed it. I may not have gotten the deeper meaning, but I understood what I was reading, and the strong visuals do a wonderful job of guiding the story. It is wonderful to look at which I was reminded of the second time through. Since I don’t know the author’s intentions, it makes it hard to score the story high or low. It hits somewhere in the middle because more than likely others will come out the same, wondering if they got the message, was there a message or was this just some interesting bits of someone’s life captured on the page.
I’m Not Here
Publisher: Koyama Press