I’m loving Concrete Park, fucking loving it. Not least because it’s got a map, and these geographies are so familiar:
Looks hell of familiar, as do the faces and the slang and the ways of being of most of the folks in these new graphic novels. The need to name them all off, to describe a wide cast of players and the power they wield over their little piece of the city they have built — a little confusing, but it makes it feel more real because of that I think. That familiarity again, the kind too many of our kids’ survival depends on as they navigate their city.
I was worried it was all a little too familiar, I mean, you imprison all these people from inner city LA and similar neighbourhoods from cities all over the world and ship them off to work as slaves in the ice mines and they reconfigure the gang culture they all grew up with. A little fucking sad of us, right? All that same old shit about turf and respect and power and product, like there’s nothing else for us. But a lot more mixed up, a crazy diverse slang that brings together hindi and arabic and spanish and cantonese and more because of how people were mixed up together working the mines and their loyalties shifted just a little…I love that, you know I love that. Still, there is initially nothing outside this world of gangs — both the good and the bad of them. The way they take care of their own, the way they kill each other. Nothing outside of them except cops.
It’s pretty descriptive of reality for a lot of kids, and some of those adults that keep wearing their tube socks up to their knees and their pants sagged and hobble up the hill home, their bones all tired from methadone. I guess all those veteranos died in the mines, or back on Earth.
Anyway, I like that Erika Alexander and Tony Puryear are writing something that will take us beyond that. Same old on a brand new planet — that’s how it starts. But all that’s about to be radically challenged by a world of crazy technology and older gods, older magics. It’s also about to run out of food and water, get cut off from its supplies and that looming environmental catastrophe is pretty damn familiar too.
And then from page one there’s been a voice calling for rising above all that shit, creating a new world better than the old. Is Chavez named after Cesar or Hugo or both? Is this voice on the radio talking up the revolution for good or ultimately evil?
Who knows, but damn I’m looking forward to the third book. Especially as the ladies are kick-ass in here, my only wish that they challenged a little more than white stereotypes of beauty. But I suppose it’s all right that everyone is hot … as is the website, with translations of the robot’s speech so you find the subplot, and the playlists, and the science behind it all.