By Steven T Seagle and Teddy Kristiansen
I’ll get to the point: this is a quite beautiful graphic novel that you should read. Seagle uses a semiautobiographical tone to tell a story that is about the creative process, the analysis of Superman and what he means (this is a Vertigo book, so it’s legal for all this Superman talk without using a stand-in), the nature of relationships (particularly with parents) and the effect of a disease on people and those around them. That he manages all of this and tell an engaging story is a testament to his skill. He has the perfect collaborator in Kristiansen – he’s not a traditional comic book artist, and he employs one style for the narrative but different art styles for each of the one-/two-page Superman analysis pages interspersed throughout (according to the notes, he employed 21 different art styles).
The book is about Steve, a comic book writer who is offered the job of writing the Superman comic; he doesn’t accept immediately, saying he needs time to think about it because he doesn’t ‘get’ Superman (the analysis pages are his notes on his thoughts on the different aspects and interpretations of the character). While he is thinking about what it means to write Superman, he is also dealing with family issues: the knowledge of the presence of Huntingdon’s disease in his family and how it hangs over him, which affects the relationship he has with his girlfriend and their future together. This is a very dry basic description of the story itself, but it doesn’t do the book any justice. It’s a really special book that is absorbing and personal, yet makes you think about the nature of a comic book character and the influence on popular culture. It’s lyrical and beautiful and thoughtful, and it’s something you have to experience for yourself, and I thoroughly recommend it.