Concrete Park: apocalyptic, afrofuturistic graphic novel of greatness
I learned about Concrete Park from Calvin Reid, the pioneering comics critic/reviewer who chaired a panel with Scott McCloud and me at the Miami Book Fair last month; Calvin called it the best new afrofuturistic comic he'd read, and I rushed out to get my own copy.
Calvin was right: Concrete Park is outstanding. It's a science fiction story about Oasis, a distant, mysterious prison planet to which generations of the Earth's poor and unwanted have been deported to work as slave labor in frozen mines. The action opens with Isaac, an LA gang-member, who is doomed to be transported to Oasis with Boza, his ruthless rival, who murdered Isaac's little sister Rose before his eyes.
When their transport ship crashes, Isaac and Boza are thrown in among the squabbling, dangerous gangs of Oasis, who supply the freed and escaped ice-mine slaves with the meager necessities of life.
Unluckily for both of them, the fragile order of the gangs is splintering under the pressure of starvation and deprivation, because the transports from Earth have all but ended, raising the question of whether anyone on Earth even knows they exist -- and whether anyone there cares.
Concrete Park is a beautifully told war-comic in the tradition of DMZ and Transmetropolitan, but with an even more ambitious storyline, filled with so many warring factions, crosses and double-crosses, and general badassery that it's a good thing that the creators chose to use such stylish infographics, textual notes, and visual tricks to make sense of it all.
Reviewers justly have praised Concrete Jungle for its diversity of cast, and it's true: it's a future that looks like the present (but not like present-day representations of the present), with a preponderance of Brazilians, Africans, African-Americans, Chinese, Indians, Latinamericans, and other "minorities" whose individual cultures and voices each stand out distinctly and rub against each other in ways that are smart, nuanced and always in service to the story.
Likewise impressive is the central role that woman characters play in the story, standing as some of its principal actors and baddest bad-asses.
Creators Tony Puyear and Erika Alexander have made something special, new and significant in the world of comics. The accompanying study guides and other supplementary materials give a hint at the thoughtful worldbuilding and fiendish plotting sitting beneath this remarkable tale.
Concrete Park Volume 1 [Tony Puyear and Erika Alexander/Dark Horse]
Concrete Park Volume 2: R-E-S-P-E-C-T [Tony Puyear and Erika Alexander/Dark Horse]
More than 8,000,000 people have watched this video of a flashmob choir performing “I Can’t Keep Quiet,” a song by LA musician MILCK, who performed it at Saturday’s Women’s March.
Agent X and Agent Full Stop are a pair of graffiti activists who call themselves Acción Ortográfica Quito: they sneak around the streets of Quito, Ecuador with cans of red spray-paint, correcting the punctuation, grammar and spelling of the city’s prolific graffiti writers, bringing legibility to boasts, professions of love, and political messages.
Section 1201 of the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act makes it both a crime and a civil offense to tamper with software locks that control access to copyrighted works — more commonly known as “Digital Rights Management” or DRM. As the number of products with software in them has exploded, the manufacturers of these products […]
You know as well as I that writing complex, long-long form text requires significant organization. You’re probably also well aware that Word just isn’t up to the task. That’s why I’m a huge fan of Scrivener, the software suite used by best-selling authors and technical writers alike.Scrivener is much more than another digital typewriter. With a […]
Looking to upgrade your weekend? Here are three randomly awesome products on my mind this week.#3 FRESHeBUDS Pro Magnetic Bluetooth EarbudsAs more and more phones and gadgets switch to Bluetooth-only compatibility, you’ll need to get Bluetooth headphones like the rest of us. I’ve been super impressed with these affordable magnetic headphones. Pull the magnetic earbuds apart to auto-connect […]
Traditional folding wallets are designed for paper bills—but these days, carrying cash is rarely a necessity. More often than not, I don’t carry cash at all. This Bogui Clik Wallet is the best answer I’ve found for avoiding the hassle of those tight-fitting credit card pockets.This attractive, minimalist wallet features a protective lip, so my cards don’t […]