I have been busy switching back and forth between reading two things lately: Guardians of the Galaxy to prepare for my LitFlix, and the item that showed up like magic from a library in Pennsylvania: The Incal.
I found out about this comic thanks to the documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune – check out my review of that here. The crazy and visionary mind of Jodorowsky never really returned to film after his attempt at Dune – he turned to comics. And his great saga, along with artist Jean Moebius Giraud, is The Incal.
I’ve read up through the first part of the collected edition I got, so through what was called The Black Incal. It’s been an interesting read. I have a deadline to get through this that’s stronger than the ones even for my LitFlix – it’s a library book! It has a due date! So I thought I would share some initial thoughts on the comic, as I continue on my way to the ding of “Achievement Unlocked: You Read The Incal!”
For me, the ambiguity started in the introduction to this volume, by Brian Michael Bendis. At first, he delighted in being able to write the introduction – he got an excuse to go back and read one of the most important comics he’d ever read.
Then, when he was actually reading it, he found what he was expecting – and then some. He remembered that it seemed like a lot of things he had seen/read since had drawn on The Incal for inspiration, but in re-reading it, he describes his anger at just how much of this comic has been used by others in their work.
Bendis closes by challenging the reader to read careful – to read on, and not copy what they see and read in the pages that follow!
I knew going in that there were issues like with The Fifth Element – which they sued (and lost) for being too close to the comic. I also know that I regularly watch things and respond “It’s Just Like Dune! (TM)” No, I don’t know why there isn’t a blog post by that name yet. Or a series. I just don’t know. But see, I am beginning to think that so many things are “Just Like Dune” because they’re like not only the novel, but Jodorowsky’s vision, which has touched so much of science fiction as well.
So it is with trepidation that I read this comic, both in wanting to avoid copying it, and to avoid feeling like I know it too well, from the things it is similar to – despite coming first!
The comic itself has been pretty good so far. Possible aliens, mutation, class differences, a mystical artifact that provides prescient powers… the makings of science fiction (and of Dune!).
The art is good. I’ve seen a few of the scenes that I recognize from Jodorowsky’s Dune – of things they dreamed up for the film that never happened. Buildings, mostly. The fun thing with the art, though, is that each page (almost) is signed at the bottom “Moebius” – the artist marking his work. They’re more than just comic panels, they’re art.
While I haven’t actually felt too much of Dune yet, other than some of the really basic frame type stuff, I am getting a lot of Fifth Element vibe – starting with falling from flying cars, towards a lower city where no one really lives or can live. John DiFool might be no Bruce Willis, but a lot of the scenes do track. Not in the same order, necessarily, but they do.
The hard part reading The Incal: I’m just so busy comparing it to other things, then trying not to, then doing so again. It’s hard to read a lot of it at once. But I’m enjoying it, and definitely want to see where this is going – because there’s a lot left! And we’ve only just barely met the Metabaron, and he seems like an amazing, Dune-like character, for sure!
I think I can already say, if you’re interested in the way this comic has shaped what came after it, definitely give it a look! I mean, I guess, start with Jodorowsky’s Dune to see if you’re interested, but then yeah, The Incal for sure.
There hasn’t been a printing of this in a while, it seems, nor is there a digital copy. That means it can run close to $100 on Amazon from third parties, so I would suggest hunting it down like I did – through the library! Your local library might not have it (my local consortium only had The Black Incal), but through Interlibrary Loan you should definitely be able to find this. Don’t believe me? Here’s a link for The Incal on WorldCat: https://www.worldcat.org/search?qt=worldcat_org_all&q=the+incal