Required Reading is DoomRocket’s love chest, opened twice monthly to champion a book that we adore. This week Arpad recommends ‘Mirenda, Vol. 1′ TPB, in comic stores November 7 and bookstores November 13, from Image Comics

Mirenda Vol. 1

Cover to ‘Mirenda, Vol. 1’ TPB. Art by Grim Wilkins/Image Comics

by Arpad Okay. A vision. A dream. Mirenda is sacred calligraphy, a story of knots and patterns that circle round to come back together. A curse, a quest, prophecy, friendship, and fulfillment. Ghosts give bad advice. The pilgrimage does not end predictably. Context is everything and the plot reforms as more lore is brought into it. Legends, told and retold, lose accuracy, gain endurance, defy time.

She is a girl with a demon in her leg. As if that isn’t bad enough, rumor has it the cursed-leg is a harbinger of the apocalypse. A warrior is charged to stop her. Heroes of a sort overhear her plight (as do mercenaries) and intervene. Her search to fix herself is a thread, the history of her affliction another, the warrior, the trio: a braid.

Mirenda is a fantastic convergence of stories. Like Mervyn Peake, a fantasy tale of unlikely characters meeting at even more unlikely crossroads. This book is wordless but hardly silent. There are a wealth of images to draw conclusions from, an unspoken logic that turns the wheels, but it’s up to you to make of Mirenda what you will.

The utter lack of text necessitates Grim Wilkins to employ some really creative framing. The book is visual montage. Every story is told in images so that now and then, here and there, you and someone else flow into each other. Like tributaries into a river, that is Mirenda. Tales being told within tales.

It’s a technically fascinating work. Illustrations, not lines, serve as panel borders, with the content regularly leaking out of the frame. Expect serious, intentional breaking the rules of composition. Panel insets and speech bubbles full of imagery overlap and superimpose. Sometimes the story follows a line of action, sometimes the typical left-to-right reading style, sometimes none of it, details cached everywhere like Toland deep focus. Let your eye wander across the whole page and then put the story together.

Mirenda is beyond the modern wave of Glen Ganges, Jim Woodring, or Inio Asano, where hyper-detailed backdrops clash against cartoonish, simplified characters. Wilkins works both character and world so that they fit together. Dense and uncluttered, busy and clear, Wilkins’ artistic alchemy is dynamic polarity. Mirenda has an open, gestural style akin to the freedom of sketchbook drawings, not fleshed out and finalized so much as captured in color and ink. Detailed but never overworked. Copious contrapposto contours, unobtrusive textures, two worlds reflected in each other.

One is a quest. Travel. Adventure. A video game world, always clear, clean, colorful. Jungles, plains, oceans, it’s Hyrule. It’s Vance and Tolkien. A society of castles and monuments buried by nature and time, as witnessed from the dawn of a new age of man. Spots of lost significance whose power is retapped. The mystique: can this happen to us? We too can fade, but will the world we leave behind regrow? No more stone. No more trees.

One is the body. A demon house. For all Mirenda’s world exploration, the explorer is even more omnipresent in the art. This isn’t a journey, it’s hers. His, too, and theirs, and others through time. The garb. The marks. Characters made distinct from the magical world that holds them. Without ears and mouths and hearts and minds, there are no stories. Without her, the book collapses.

Mirenda is bodies, and it dances with and studiously subverts the trope of lady in a loincloth. Constant cover up is comedic, thoughtful, respectful. And celebrating the body, this adds value to its survival, adds value to the demon possession as an invasion of sacred territory. It’s not cheesecake, but it ain’t shy either. Mirenda is more sophisticated, for this reason and a million more, than its Métal Hurlant roots.

Mirenda is more like found tablets. It starts before it begins and ends long after the last page. Mirenda is a visual feast, worth reading for its rulebook rewrite alone. But it also stands as a work of fantasy that stretches back through the ages of the genre. Rare, ancient, post-modern, and timeless. More. A modern primitive work that moves the marker for possible depth of the new wave.

Image Comics/$17.99

Written by Grim Wilkins.

Illustrated by Grim Wilkins.

Lettered by Grim Wilkins.

‘Mirenda, Vol. 1’ TPB hits comic shops November 7 and bookstores November 13.


Enjoy this five-page preview of ‘Mirenda, Vol. 1’ TPB, courtesy of Image Comics!

More Required Reading…

Leong’s ‘Prism Stalker’ a beautiful, turbulent vision of resistance and individuality

Humor and happiness inform ‘About Betty’s Boob’, a story of strength in the face of defeat

‘Cold War’ an awesome study of avant-garde megaviolence