When you look at the comic book industry as a whole there’s really a strange occurrence in which a pool of creators all seem to come up the ladder together. In a way it’s like a class system in which you could say, “this is the class of 2015.” I’m not going to sit here and list them all, but Curt Pires is one of those creators that seems to be doing a lot of work this year. He is also unfortunately a creator that is more miss than hit with me. In fact, he’s pretty much all miss with me, but I continue to try out his books because he’s too new of a creator to just write off. As Ira Glass once said, you have to get through a lot of bad writing to get to the good, so I tend to try out a writer I don’t particular care for more than a few times before writing them off completely.
Though I’m having a harder and harder time doing that with Pires’ work.
The Fiction should be really good. When David Rubin is your artist, it should be fantastic. Even on Rubin’s worst day he’s still an incredible talent and the main reason I wanted to check this issue out. Unfortunately, he’s not a good pairing with Pires and ultimately Rubin’s art couldn’t save this issue.
The series is being billed as in the vein of Locke & Key and The Unwritten and really as a friend pointed out IT to a degree as well. The problem is that it doesn’t successfully do anything like the aforementioned titles. Whereas Locke & Key built a deep family mystery that built upon a shared tragedy, The Fiction introduces a bunch of families that are friends of one another and then pushes them from the pages for their children instead. Whereas the The Unwritten dived into literature in an interesting and captivating way, The Fiction uses a literary device in a very obvious and surface level way. Now as for the IT, The Fiction is about four friends that explored these literary worlds together, but after losing one friend they buried what happened to them and moved on with life until faced with the danger yet again as adults.
The main problem is that the story comes across as Pires having pre-written the series without an artist in mind and then after hiring an artist he never adjusted the script. Enter Rubin who illustrates things that Pires then reiterates in the narration. You ending up being shown and told the same thing which becomes more than a little redundant. For instance, when the kids are exploring different worlds Rubin illustrates pages being turned over and over alongside the different panels of adventures… and then Pires narration explains the very thing you’re looking at. You end up wondering why you’re being told something you’re actually looking at. I don’t know what the process of pairing these two together was, but my gut tells me that it wasn’t a collaboration, but rather a work for hire which is a damn shame because Rubin could have made this script sing.
The art is so good that you could mostly understand the story from just the art. I say mostly because Pires storyline jumps around so much that even with the narration you can end up confused or at the very least left wondering why the hell he decided to do unnecessary setup only to quickly rush away from it. In the end the art just isn’t enough and it’s unrealistic to ask you to not read the story and just look at the art.
At the end of the day The Fiction isn’t the worst comic I’ve read. It’s not even that bad, but it’s frustrating because it could have and maybe should have been really good. There’s just no harmony between the story and artwork and in comics you need that. Otherwise you end up with a frustrating mess of… fiction. The only upside to this series is that it will introduce readers to David Rubin and that’s a very good thing.
The Fiction #1 (of 4) Writer: Curt Pires Artist: David Rubin Publisher: BOOM! Studios Price: $3.99 Release Date: 6/17/15 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital