Comfort Food Comics Read Pile: Solid State by Keigen Rea

EIC Dave Shevlin: Comfort Food usually brings with it leftovers. The stacks of tupperware or boxes that pile up in the refrigerator. The comfort food treats you hoard for a special occasion in the back of the cupboard until you can’t close the cupboard door. Comfort Food Comics are no different. We all have that shelf, that big leaning stack of comics that if you blow on it wrong it’ll collapse all over the place. One thing ALL comics fan have in common is that we all have stacks and piles of books we’ve acquired but we just haven’t had the time to read them yet. Keigen Rea came to me with an absolute gem of an idea. Why don’t we allow anyone who has these piles to start chipping away one column at a time. A massive collaborative effort for each and every one of us to finally reduce our read (“reed”) piles to read (“red”) piles. If you’d like to join in PLEASE hit him up and join us. He will be running and curating this column for forever if I have any say about it. Without further ado, let’s let him take it from here:

Welcome to what is hopefully the first of many editions of Read Pile, a new column here at CFC. Read Pile is all about creating an opportunity to grab a comic you’ve been meaning to get to, one that’s on the “to read” shelf, or stack, or otherwise disorganized pile in your home. This column is about taking the time to sit down with a comic that I’m excited about and getting the opportunity to talk about it. 

This Read Pile is by the column’s founder & curator, Keigen Rea, who writes reviews for AIPT and Comics Bookcase, along with the column ‘Rereads,’ also at Comics Bookcase. You can find him @prince_organa on Twitter. This first Read Pile is about the graphic novel ‘Solid State,’ by Jonathan Coulton, Matt Fraction, Albert Monteys, and Barbaink, edited by Lauren Sankovitch, designed by Gail Marowitz and Ed Sherman. Published by Image Comics. 

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Look at this stupid big book. 

That’s a normal oversized hardcover for reference. This book is a big dumb beautiful square, and it only fits on one of my shelves because they’re made to be aesthetically pleasing and not super functional. I love it. I’m writing this before even reading it since, really, this great big comic is my choice for the inaugural Read Pile because of it’s ridiculous size! I love books that aren’t the usual size or design, so I coveted this one from afar for literal years, until I bought it online this year from Katie Proctor at Book with Pictures in Portland, Oregon. Didn’t even realize what an absolute unit it was. What a lovely looking book! 

Okay, the production value of this comic is beautiful. The pages are so nice feeling, I don’t even know how to describe them. The opposite of a Marvel trade’s pages? Real good. And they smell good! Lovely, weird design all around. I’m really happy I got this in print, and I’m happy I waited to read it in print. Definitely the best way to experience this big book, and I’m normally more of a digital reader. It felt good to read while I was feeling good reading it. 

One of the cool things about the giant page size is that I literally have to spend more time looking at the pages because stuff is physically further away from each other. It’s an interesting effect, especially since I think I tend to read quickly and just glance over art. I don’t think I can praise this format enough, really. I love weird stuff like this! 

It’s also all built on a 16 panel grid, which I’m not normally super into, but since the pages are squares, it looks really weird! It’s interesting here how the size of the book and pages influences the pace of the story. It’s primarily the size that allows for more story to be told, and it feels less dense, but wow, it’s just a fun thing that I really like. More weird sizes!

Now, the main reason this works for me, though, is that this book has the best robots in it. I love them, mostly because, if I got to meet them, I’m pretty sure they’d love me too. 

One of them is Buddy (pictured above), who is just delightful. His whole deal is just being a good friend and helping out. He doesn’t know everything, or even a bunch of stuff, but he’s nice and good and yes, I do love him. 

He highlights a cool thing in comics, too, that I learned from the commentary in the back of the issue. Obviously none of this would exist without Monteys, but his design fed Fraction to make him more important and real as a character. I love learning about these kinds of situations where it’s easy to see the collaboration that is at hand, and how it’s impossible to truly give credit to only the writer or artist. They both affect each other and help form everything else. Buddy is delightful and it’s because of everyone who worked on the book. 

But I said “robots” and you better believe this second robot brought what I’m hungry for to the table. 

Luna is a robot, well, more of an AI, that made herself into a satellite to leave humanity. Everything about her is what I want out of robots and AI in fiction. She doesn’t leave because she’s afraid of killing, or because she wants to doom the human race. She goes, well, because of people. 

It’s not the bravest decision. Or the nicest one. It’s not the most helpful. But it’s also not the meanest decision. Or the easiest. Or harmful.

Luna learns everything about people, all the good and the bad. She loves people, even while realizing they suck. And she leaves. What’s more human than that? 

I’ve said in multiple places recently that Fraction’s writing works best when it becomes personal to me, and I feel like ‘Solid State’ does that with more than one character, but maybe none more so than Luna, especially given my weakness to robots. That idea of seeing all the beauty and hate in the world and deciding to back away from it is simple and bittersweet in a perfect venn diagram where I’m left crying in my couch. 

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That’s it for this one! Thanks for joining, and hey! If you thought, “I can do better than this chump!” please, do better than this chump! If you’ve got a comic you’ve been meaning to get to and you wanna write about it, just let me know (@prince_organa on Twitter will get you in touch the easiest, probably) and we can get you set up. 

Thanks for reading, join us next time for: I don’t know yet!