Pills and Police State in Continuity
Interesting premise and acceptable cover art were the main draws for this book, which was released back in 2006 by a San Francisco publisher I’m not familiar with: AIT/Planet Lar. It’s penned by Jason Mcnamara and drawn by Tony Talbert.
Upon opening to the first page – wasn’t quite sure if I could continue forward. The art on page one was incredibly busy, to the point where the lines almost didn’t make sense. It takes your eyes a second to adjust to what’s happening on the page because there are several hundred incredibly dense lines it has to formulate into recognizable shapes.
I’ll admit right now – I like my lines clean, sharp and minimal. So what’s in this book is de facto not going to appeal to my specific tastes. Which doesn’t mean that it’s BAD per se…just completely contrary to the style of comic book art I prefer.
However – the story was able to whisk me nicely away from the visual chaos on the page, and I was transported into the world of the main character Alicia, who is first introduced as a pregnant pill-addict on the run in a futuristic environment. She meets up with a sympathetic psychiatrist to whom she tells her sad story.
Turns out that Alicia is like many suburban teenagers, unhappy and filled with inner turmoil and outer conflict, so she escapes into her dreams to take away the pain of her ordinary existence. But the two begin to merge and then things that happen in her dreams start to change the reality in which she and everyone else lives. Sometimes with decidedly negative consequences.
Her best solution is to stop sleeping and dreaming. It’s a great concept and I want to like this book more than I do.
My immediate thought after discovering her upset over altering reality during sleepy-time…why doesn’t she attempt to control her dreams? Many people can learn the craft of lucid dreaming and manipulate events if things start to go sour.
Obviously, this idea was never explored because that’s how the author wanted it, but I would have thought this could have at least been considered. The concept was more about escapism through dreams, drugs and eventually death versus how we might assert control over these things. I suppose however, the idea is that a pregnant, homeless, runaway teen girl doesn’t feel she CAN control anything. Which makes for intriguing social commentary, but also lends itself to a rather depressing story filled with needless violence. The idea of a pill-filled police state led me to assume it was going to be more about addiction.
Of course I was digging on the female main character, and her vigilante style heroics in her altered world were quite thrilling. This might be a book you could pass along to a teenage girl struggling with some of the same issues Alicia faces and have a good conversation about the social commentary on the pages. But I wouldn’t say Alicia is exactly a heroine in a conventional comic book sense – and I’m not sure if teens will be able to see much of themselves in her once her reality becomes so hopelessly distorted.
Regardless – there is a lot of depth, interesting moral ponderings, and futuristic metaphors to chew on here…but as I mentioned before, the art keeps this from being a truly compelling book, and merely makes it passable brain food.
But if you are into the future, nihilism and the pitfalls of escapism, this might be the graphic novel for you.
Interview with Jason McNamara about the intention behind Continuity here.
*Apparently this book was offered by the publisher FREE online in it’s entirety before the scheduled release date and stirred up a lot of drama. You can read a discussion thread about it here.