Here by Richard McGuire Review

Comics Reviews Richard McGuire
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<i>Here</i> by Richard McGuire Review

Writer & Artist: Richard McGuire
Publisher: Pantheon
Release Date: December 9, 2014

Time is a flat circle, yo. That’s the tl;dr for Richard McGuire’s soft, thoughtful graphic novel, Here. The book showcases various events that have taken place at a very particular location over the course of history, constructed exclusively through 2-page spreads. An expansion of an idea Mcguire pursued many years ago in Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly’s comic anthology, Raw, this book takes 300 pages to explore the same story from myriad angles, rendered in Fairfield Porter-esque colors. If you’re looking for character development or a forceful narrative, by all means direct your attention elsewhere. McGuire’s goal is to make a point about the circularity of existence.

Most of the spreads feature a room in an old house, visited at its construction, destruction and many points between. Sometimes these spreads exist as a single panel expanded over two pages. More often, panels — each from a different time period — overlay upon the backdrop of the room, each panel labeled with the year in which it takes place. Echoes abound. The organization is thematic rather than linear. Moments of anger, love, playfulness and the like are correlated, having occurred over separate centuries (and, sometimes, millennia). A Tyrannosaurus rex stalks the same ground that, millions of years later, will play host to an American Indian couple getting it on in the forest; hundreds of years from that, a children’s birthday party will attend the same spot. The great flood will come again, but humanity will survive it. An undercurrent of resignation permeates this time-lapse epic. Do our tiny lives mean anything? Not really — not in the grand scheme of things, where nature is the head honcho and humans control very little.


McGuire’s great achievement is constructing a metaphorical pair of 3D glasses. One lens shows the grand sweep of time, with humans only occupying a tiny part of what has happened and what will. The other lens takes a more charitable, ant’s-eye view, focusing on minutia and implying the importance of being present in the moment. Just because this, too, shall pass doesn’t mean it is worthless. There is great loveliness in the specific.

Could Here have focused more to establish individualities, rather than general concepts? Perhaps. The problem with a story that encompasses (and goes beyond) the history of the world is that little time exists for any one moment to make much of an impact, which is the point but also a weakness. One can easily speed through the book because it doesn’t make the reader slow down. This stands in contrast to Chris Ware’s attempts to explore similar material, which uses its form to force the reader to focus and unpack its content. Is there enough there there to reward reading Here like a devotional? Only time will tell.

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