Saturday, May 2, 2009

Phonogram: The Singles Club #2

Written by Kieron Gillen
Art by Jamie McKelvie (with Emma Vieceli and Daniel Heard)

Phonogram is to music what Local was to cities. Where Wood's and Kelly's masterpiece inserted Megan, its protagonist, into a locale, and used that environment to complement the changes in her character and life, Gillen and McKelvie are using a static environment - a particular club on, it appears, a particular night, where the changing music becomes the key into a group of characters' psyches.

In this issue, Marc (or Marquis, as the protagonist of the first issue calls him) reminisces about a lost love, to a soundtrack that is melancholy only to him. I don't know anything about the music discussed in this comic (okay, I know who Kate Bush and Diamanda Galas are, but the rest is totally unfamiliar to me), but that doesn't detract from the story. Marc visualizes the girl that he met in the same club a few years before, and sees at the same time both the good and the bad times of their relationship.

The story-telling in this comic is quite complex. The layered flashbacks within the same panel reminded me of techniques used in Brian Azzarello's fondly remembered, short-lived Loveless series, and the creators here pull it off very nicely. I also like the ways in which this issue runs parallel to (and in-between) the story told in the first issue of the series.

I think that Gillen is on to something in his Proustian evocations of music and its ability to trigger memories and melancholy in people. This 'music is magic' concept is very fertile ground. The back-ups are nice additions, but ultimately aren't that memorable.

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