I was not expecting what The Loop, had to offer. I didn’t expect to have my mind fucked with in the most interesting of ways. I didn’t know what to expect from The Loop and that’s what made it so enjoyable. One of the single greatest pleasures a comic book reader can have is going into a story and having no idea what it’s about. Perhaps a synopsis was read, but that is the story boiled down to its simplest form… it doesn’t capture the feeling or tone of the story and its only goal is grab your curiosity. I remember one of the first comics I blindly grabbed was Blue Monday: The Kids Are Alright #2; I had no idea what it was about. I knew that J. Scott Campbell had drawn the cover, but that I liked the art inside a hundred times better. This is nothing like Blue Monday, but it gave me that same sensation; that same “high” as I read it. I became so entranced with this book that when my wife began telling me something I eventually failed to answer back and then failed again to repeat back what she had said. That’s right, The Loop causes petty arguments in relationships if you’re not careful.
I had to re-read the opening because it’s so out of context from the rest of the story. It’s not that it doesn’t make any sense; it’s just that it’s starting at a point in the story in which the main character already has more information than the reader and he’s not catching us up. I love a good story that can just begin without you, but you eventually catch up with towards the end. Literally you’ll have a moment where everything in the beginning that confused you, but still convinced you to keep reading… becomes clear. The seemingly random events become clear.
Sean’s story begins with his first week on campus. It begins with his mailbox, which once belonged to his predecessor and friend Russ; he’s found it feathered. Now, I’ve never heard of this, but essentially a cube of glued feathers has been placed in the mailbox to block it. As Sean removes it he’s startled from behind by Thad. Thad is a former cop and now works in the Sociology department; he tells Sean not to tamper with the evidence. Thad leads Sean around by the nose (not literally) for some reason and they run into someone Thad introduces as Johnny Law. Thad and Johnny end up wrestling on the campus lawn and Sean tries to excuse himself to see the Campus Police. He’s fairly certain that Thad is the one that feathered his mailbox anyways, but when he tries to leave, Thad insists that he come to his office first.
That turns out to be more shenanigans between Thad and Johnny. Sean finally makes it to the Campus Police who are as useless as Thad and Johnny said they would be. He finishes off his day at school by running to the housing office only to discover that they don’t have a house for him, leaving only the house of the man whose job he’s taken. Sean feels very weird about it, but he heads to Russ’ house anyways. Once inside he discovers that nothing has been packed. He says screw it and packs everything up in one corner and as he does he learns about Russ. His final discovery for the day is that there are no lights in the place. Every bulb or lamp is missing. Sean wanders around flipping switches until he finds a basement light that turns on and suddenly it’s like a supernova. A circle made up of around thirty lamps surrounds a black pod.
At this point we’re not even a third of the way into the story. As Sean begins to take over Russ’ position at the college, he also begins to piece together what Russ was into before he died. Every answer provides a new question and just as the story is getting great… it ends, leaving you craving more. There is a huge mystery around Russ and his final years of life. The friendship between Sean and Russ is also very strange and it’s pretty clear that they weren’t on speaking terms, but it’s not clear as to why. The story is enthralling and once I began reading it, I couldn’t put it down. What helped is that it’s a very fast read and has incredible pacing. What I found particularly interesting was that Russ’ name is used and said more times than Sean’s name. I believe there is a psychology behind this, but I’m not sure what it is yet. Is it that in some weird way Sean is becoming Russ and so we’re intentionally hit with Russ’ name more often? I don’t know and I could very well be wrong, but it seemed very intentional.
I’ll be honest; some people are going to be turned off by the art. I didn’t fall in love with it myself at first, but after you get to Russ’ house you’ll see the charm of the style. For me, the way I judge art for any book is not if it looks like Alex Ross’ pencils with Adam Hughes coloring, but how it works with the story. The art for TheLoop has this realistic nature to it. The body language plays a huge role in this as the characters sit naturally in chairs or bend over objects. While the art probably not suited for your traditional superhero title, it is perfectly suited for a mind bending experience such as this.
Indie books have it rough; some people go easy on them because they figure it’s not a “professional” production, so why bother. While others treat them as if it did have corporate bucks producing it and they expected more. Personally, I like to judge it based on the content. Did the story capture my attention and play with my imagination; did the art fit the story and did the visuals support the narrative. The Loop is sure to be overlooked by some people, but that is their loss. I’m eager to finish reading Sean and Russ’ journey and discover the final mystery that everything else is leading up to. This is a fantastic read and I hope that you’ll give it a read and join the journey.
Writer/Artist/Creator: Bo Bigelow Self-Published Price: $19.99 Release Date: 4/1/13 Website: WhatistheLoop.com