Sunday, July 08, 2007

Farewell, Moonshadow

First, a little history.

20 odd years ago, Epic, a mature imprint of Marvel Comics, published a 12-issue series, which was a coming of age sci-fi fantasy fairy tale for adults - Moonshadow. Created by writer J.M. DeMatteis and artist Jon J Muth, the book helped, along with its Epic brethren, to redefine American comic books and spearheaded the fully painted comic story, something that came to be en vogue a few years later. It was a difficult project to pigeonhole into any one genre and the creators operated under very few restrictions since nobody knew exactly what it was they were creating. As a result, what is arguably one of the finest comic book works to ever be crafted on this continent was produced, packaged and sold with little fanfare.

On a personal note, at this time I was just discovering John Byrne's Superman revival and the creation of the new DC Comics Universe post-Crisis, so I, unfortunately, missed this landmark book on its release. Not being a complete cloth-eared nincompoop, however, I did eventually discover it in the back-issue bins (through an ad in the back of an issue of Elektra: Assassin, I'm sure) and found myself drawn, first to the beautiful painted covers by Muth, and then to the magical, heartfelt and inspired writing of an author who's work I'd only ever seen in the pages of Marvel Team-Up, The Defenders and Justice League. This was good stuff. I made a point of buying up every issue I could find.

Before finally completing my Epic run it was republished for a new audience to discover with new covers, better paper, and supplemental material at DC's aforementioned Vertigo imprint (something DeMatteis and Muth apparently lobbied for). This was followed shortly thereafter by its sequel, Farewell, Moonshadow, which featured the original creators, DeMatteis and Muth, reuniting to tell the final chapter in the life of the young wanderer. Not a comic book, per se, the story was told in prose and comic format with spot illustrations and panel work done by Muth. It's a powerful, enchanting tale of found and lost love, and how an individual's journey to awakening never truly ends.

I just completed reading the maxi-series yesterday and about a half-hour ago I finished the sequel. I'm going to risk some cool factor by saying that the saga as a whole deeply touched me (as it has since the day I first laid eyes on it) and had me a little teary by story's end. I hesitated to put the book down for a few minutes because it would have meant the end of something that I wasn't quite ready to let go of just yet. I wanted to hold the moment for a few seconds longer, then proceeded to tell Jen that she should read it, too.

The only thing just as good as experiencing it yourself is seeing someone else going through it as well. Just as I encouraged Jen to try it, I throw out the invitation to you. Find a copy, crack it open, see what you think.

And if J.M. or Jon happen to stumble by this post, a humble and profound thank you to the both of you.

I'm going to leave this post with one of my favourite images from Farewell. It's a spot illo from a dream sequence and it features Moon's mother and the hat of his best friend, Ira. Both figure and object carry greater meaning when you've read the previous work but I think it's striking, poetic and just plain beautiful to look at. I want to make prints of them all.


1 comment:

Allen said...

Hi Mike
Thank you for the wonderful review/comments about "Moonshadow". I am Jon J Muth's agent and worked with both he and JM DeMatteis to help keep the "Moonshadow" Graphic Novel alive. Moving it from Marvel to Dc was just the beginning.
Keeping it in print at DC still hinges on sales. So having people like you find and recomending it is very important.
Allen Spiegel