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Wednesday, 4 May 2011

You Are Here

Writer and Artist: Kyle Baker
Publisher: Vertigo/DC Comics

What’s it about?
This book is the story of Noel Coleman. A successful painter who lives in the country just outside New York with his lovely girlfriend and endures her harsh mother everyday. But Noel isn't just a painter. He's also an ex-con artist and jewelry thief. Now he's back in NY City to sell his apartment and get rid of his past, all these secrets start catching up.

Once his fiancee arrives his problems are only starting...a serial killer starts chasing him, his friends get mixed up between a fiancee and a killer on his steps...

Will Noel be able to live to see a new day and future with his girlfriend?  Will he be able to tell her the truth?

Will they both survive?
What is good about it?
"You Are Here" is a comical adventure, a very fun and colorful journey through a difficult reality.  Kyle Baker is a well known, talented story teller and a Eisner Award winner (a prize given for creative achievement in comic books).  The story plays with various tropes and clichés about country folk and the New York population.

Kyle Baker style is colorful, cartoony and yet quite expressive and realistic in some places.

It's a fun love story about contrasts.  Contrasts between the living and breathing funny characters and the more realistic backgrounds. Between the nature and the city. Between honest and pure people like Noel's girlfriend and the more grim inhabitants of NY.  Once the prologue has established the cast it's fun, the action never stops and it's well paced.

And the art, let's not forget to mention that.  It's gorgeous, some of the best Baker's done!
The warm and lively tones of the beginning of the book fade to a colder atmosphere as we progress through the plot, thus bringing the visual expression full circle in another sunset at the end of the story.

It's a masterful execution perfectly controlled by the artist.

What is bad about it?
It's kinda graphic, for you see this is a book for a mature audience!

This might be a funny and entertaining cartoony look at relations, an adventure with a love story background..but a mature Vertigo comic book title.

So expect some nudity!

Nothing degrading really, or gratuitous. Just an honest look at what life is (and people do get naked in real life). Noel and is friends live in the "real" life, compared to his girlfriend's more lyrical Disney-like approach to life (she's even seen talking to animals and running in the forest at the start!).

Noel lives a dangerous life, amongst "ugly" people and doesn't just dream of getting out of there, but also aspire to that kinda of happy careless life his girlfriend proposes him.

Also, Kyle Baker is always experimenting.  In this story he didn't use the more traditional speech-bubbles. But all dialogues (and narration, thoughts and mood-settings) are expressed at the bottom of panels. Different, sure, but by the time you've got mid-book you'll be easily used to it.

What’s the art like?
The art, as you can see around this post, is quite colorful. Expressive and cartoony like I said above.  Kyle Baker's art style at its best.  It's not too computerized (unlike his more recent Marvel work on series such as Deadpool Corps).  The best thing is to show you the first couple of pages:
As you can see, it's quite full of life. The natural environment and people tend to be more cartoony and they almost pop out of the pages. The city, objects, furniture become more distant in the background, colder.

It works especially well in this story of contrasts - a story that plays with notions, go on unexpected turns and paths (and ending on a perfectly non-Hollywood note).

Other information
You Are Here
160 pg color - Graphic Novel
Priced at approximately £19.95
ISBN 1-56389-442-4

If you liked this book, be sure to check out other Kyle Baker books such as his famous:
Why I Hate Saturn 
And for superhero fans you can always check out his:
Plastic Man on-going series from DC Comics a couple years back.
Which also showcase some of his best work as you can see here here or here

Or at Marvel, his more recent work on:
Deadpool Corps but his quite experimental, featuring mostly 3D computer models instead of traditional art as you can see here or here.
But he's back to using a pencil in the Deadpool Max series. Here's another example.

And if you prefer similar stories rather than other books from Kyle Baker, I suggest reading Will Eisner books which were without a doubt a great inspiration behind this book:
Like Life on Another Planet for example.
Or other books from the publisher Vertigo Comics.


  1. Now this sounds intriguing - I'd not heard of it. On to the Amazon wishlist it goes ...

    (PS Thanks for the comment re: Tiny Titans - it's not appearing with the others due to Blogger imploding last week. Thanks very much, though!)

  2. Yeah..that blogger thing really annoyed me! Losing posts, comments, and whatnot...

    Like I said, it's a great book. Probably overseen by many due to thousands of superhero books being released (as usual) at the same time. A great read^^