By Maxeem Konrardy
Commune is a book I acquired in trade. I was sitting at a table, my first con, and its author Max was sitting across from me. I looked awkward and nervous. He looked careless and smart. I figured he must write good comics.
So when he got up to make the rounds and seemed interested by the books on my table, I offered him an exchange. Too polite to say no, but not so guarded as to hide the horror on his face, he gave me the only book on his table and I gave him everything I had. It couldn’t have been enough for a book this nice. I knew it immediately.
Commune is as much a beautifully illustrated comic as it is an environmental statement. The pages and cover are printed on uncoated 100% PCW recycled paper and the ink is vegetable-based. Even the transportation costs were offset by an investment in wind energy. As far as I know, this is the world’s most eco-friendly comic book.
Unfortunately, loving mother earth came with a sky-high price tag. I imagine the asking price for this book ($14.95 US) is not far off from the actual cost of printing, which is only because so few books are printed this way. If you’d like to knock down the cost a little for future generations, contact Tulip in California about printing your next book.
I gave Max a handful of my sketchy, junky first-minis and he gave me something he invested years, money and thoughtfulness to produce. If I can repay him at all, the time is now. On to the glowing, honest review of his book:
Commune is a look into the future that is focused on the experiences of three young children. They live on a ship, where their
parents have brought them to seek out a new, habitable planet away from Earth. Somewhere along in their journey, the ship’s stability is compromised and the adults have been destroyed. The three children, with fantastic, space-age names like “Sandin,” are now running for their lives and unable to make sense of their terrible new reality or the events that have led them there. They are chased by zombies and dark, blob-like monsters. Or are they aliens? Or kittens?
Imagine you’re on the pavement, skipping the cracks to save your mother, or only able to cross the floor of your living room on an island chain of pillows
and cushions to avoid the flowing lava. Commune is filled with the excited confusion of escape and survival that lives in the imagination of childhood, if only as a prelude to adulthood. It is, I believe, the point Max is getting across. His book is so full of mystery and symbolism, however, that I’m not sure I’ll really understand everything it represents. Each new reading sends a different message, and it’s worth reading again and again.
His drawings are beautiful and give the right amount of detail. Small, sketchy lines make out the horizon, which is like smoke billowing in a microchip. The children’s faces are large and circular, unlike the detailed faces of the adults. The emotion is constant and the characters are always feeling something or reacting to their situation. The emotion of the story and the reasoning of the characters never let up. They talk so much about the power at hand, I want to see it completely and know what it is. Max doesn’t show the villain satisfactorily, however. Not until the end, at least.