The Human Beings – Issue 3
Created by SJ McCuune
Published by Millicent Barnes Comics – 24 pages – full colour
Sometimes, I like to get a press release. Often they are a handy explanation of a plot and a history of the creator or creators. It is an easy short cut when you are posting a review or a preview. However, when it comes to anything by SJ McCune, I would never read such material and I am glad that he never sends one or would consider he has a work that would or should be explained.
You see, The Human Beings is a story that is a four dimensional jigsaw puzzle. I read and re-read Issue 3 with a furrowed brow, intent on working out the plot strands and pulling them together. Some I catch, some I wonder if they are just my interpretation and some… well, I’ll never find out. This is all part of the joy of reading a book that is written for clever people and in itself an experiment in art and its transition into a real, palpable event.
The Human Beings is a mystery in so many ways – in both the traditional and “freaking so out of the ordinary” sense, leaving your head reeling. It delivers both mood and facts in a way that forces you to try and think like both Columbo and Jerry Cornelius, in equal measure, to work out what’s going on. It’s a trans-dimensional, creepy, whodunnit that moves between the most unsettling of worlds. I relish it appearing with every single instalment.
So, what is this series? Let’s try and explain it in more simpler terms. It is an anthology of short stories. The stories range from horror, to sci-fi to biographical. Yet they are none of that and all of that at once. This is also a series that is regularly Kickstarted by the creator. He has a a strong fan base and his work usually gets funded in less than 24 hours – and rightly so. You know if you back one of his projects that you’ll have it through your door or in your inbox promptly, along with a mess of extra material.
The cover of this issue was an image that SJ teased early on in the creation process and shows how some hard shadows of the world crash into the light. Impenetrable in their darkness, hiding the truth. A cover that looks like a holiday snap crossed with an Argento movie still. It cunningly laid up the series to come and is echoed in a story called “I am Tomorrow” that appears towards the end of this issue. More on that in a second.
“They can both run, run, run …. and they should … because this is my work now.”
I am trying not to spoil the story or the things that appear within the narrative that hint at other events. I want the reader to experience and extrapolate for themselves, as that is where the joy exists in these comics. All the way through his previous series Monologue, and through this, you sense something clever and knowing that will all be explained (maybe).
“I just never notice myself”
SJ plays with your reading experience. For example, the story “Windows” involves some unsettling visual imagery, some echoing words, some cute female friend interplay and some chatting backstage at a stripper bar. It is purposely counter intuitive, yet playful. The peeled off strippers underwear for example shows a playfulness and may (perhaps) have a revelation metaphor included.
But… more than ever I sense the autobiographical crawl out from under the bed and look up at you. Comments on how “jazz makes it easier” and the story “I am Tomorrow'”, where a man walks through sunny streets with the phantoms of his past all around him, make me think we are seeing reflections of the creator everywhere in this comic. The strings are being pulled together, the world is unfolding and we will be shown the creative and real soul of this comic book maker.
The last but one page also shows a painter as an easel. They are painting the face of a character in the story… perhaps I should have been a detective?
But then again I could be way off the mark…
“I walk out amoung them, among Human Beings and I remain a phantom.”
(Notice the capital letters in that line of dialogue…. he is his story.)
Many thanks for reading.