At times it can be easy to forget that the comic book genre isn’t just about your favourite superheroes in tights or a trip into a idealistic or dystopian world. The genre is a unique platform to tell an engaging narrative, as well as to fit the pictures to the themes being expressed, getting the writer’s true ideas across. And this one is no exception. All My Ghosts offers a brutal slice of reality that offers a unique reflection on our current climate and how we act as well as how we wish to act towards people and events. Jeremy Massie has weaved an intricate world that raises questions about identity and family that most artists may be hesitant to attempt to present.
This tale focuses on Joe Hale, an editor in chief for a small newspaper in a small mountain town. Joe is dissatisfied with the job he was forced to inherit from his father, and as the years has passed he grows distant and emotionless towards his staff and writing for a paper he never wanted. As the economy has worsened and the entire town feels the pinch, he is forced to sell the newspaper that his family has run for generations to another corporate shell that “flip dying papers” for the modern population. While most would see this situation as losing their livelihood, Joe sees it as an opportunity to embrace the sense of freedom that has always evaded him and to reconcile the relationships he has long since abandoned. As the day to the sell draws closer, Joe begins to recklessly enjoy his life much to the displeasure of both the new owners and the town population through his opinion articles and his reckless antics. And its not long before the ghosts of his own past start to haunt him and question the future he has set…
Jeremy has managed to construct a world that heavily reflects upon our own. The economy and the need to stay afloat often means making sacrifices and putting your own dreams on hold. You instantly relate with Joe right from the start as he is just an ordinary guy tired of his job and forced to stare at the same four walls. He has become emotionally numb and stuck in the same routine day in and day out, that is until an opportunity for change (and an encounter with a young bass player) causes him to re-evaluate his priorities and embrace what life has in store. This is just one of the themes touched upon in the narrative that come together to question identity and who you want to be against who you need to be.
However, alongside the strong tone of freedom is the message to appreciate the people and things close to you, as the buyout gives him the funds to reconcile with family members that he just didn’t have time for. Whether it is to bury the hatchet with his brother, or to better improve the future of his daughter, each experience changes him more into the man he wishes to be and not the former shell he once was and we see this change every step of the way.
The art style on show here is highly professional and shows great passion and effort from someone that clearly poured his heart and soul into the project. Right from the start with the opening shot of the antique newspaper printer, it carries the high level of detail and consistency throughout. The use of onomatopoeic words sprinkled through the panels adds flow and motion to the art and breathes life onto the page. What you see is a bustling city, full of people affected by Joe’s erratic behaviour and major corporations slowly taking over their means of livelihood. The highlight of the design comes from the ghost apparitions that strongly live up to the title. These spirits flood the pages causing fear and doubt in Joe’s pursuit of freedom from his workaholic life. The ghosts of his past weigh heavily on his mind, his father a shadow unhappy with what his son is becoming. Fading into nothingness near the legacy of his family portraits. What kind of legacy is Joe leaving behind?
All my Ghosts was a deeply moving experience that hits heavy themes and feels relatable right from the start. Joe is a common guy given the chance to live an extraordinary life, despite what others think and say and in a work-eccentric society, that is something many of us would desire. The narrative is strong and steady with the beautiful imagery weaving a tale of internal conflict and personal identity. This is a must read for those that want to witness a piece down to earth and heavily thought-provoking. And looking further into this, it turns out this was the product of a successful Kickstarter project that definitely delivered on its promise.
What do you guys think of All My Ghosts? Did you help fund the title? Sound off in the comments or send us your thoughts on Twitter!