Richard McGuire’s “Here”

Often, I start my Sunday by reading some stuff out of the “Read/Review” folder in my email, generally including one of Warren Ellis’ email newsletters. I’m pretty far behind in my reading. This morning, I was reading stuff from October 2018, including this newsletter from Ellis, with the second half of a speech he gave at a festival called Thought Bubble.

Ellis’ newsletters make for good Sunday morning reading. They often include links that send me off on little explorations that eat up more time that I intended to spend. But that’s fine, since it’s Sunday morning. In this case, he briefly mentioned Richard McGuire’s six-page comic story Here, which originally appeared in Raw, in 1989. I have that issue of Raw, and would have read it back in 1989, but probably haven’t reread it at any point in the last twenty years. Anyway, I didn’t remember the story or Richard McGuire, so I did some internet searching, and found a bunch of references to it. It’s such a well-regarded story that it has a Wikipedia page devoted to it. From there, I found that McGuire turned the concept from the story into a whole book, in 2014. I saw that I’d already added the book to my Amazon wishlist, in 2015, so I must have read about it at some point after it came out, but I don’t remember that at all.

McGuire is from New Jersey, and the story takes place in Perth Amboy, according to this article. And there was an exhibition at the Morgan Library relating to the book in 2014. And here’s a good review of the book from the comics blog Broken Frontier. So it must have popped up briefly in my consciousness back then, from one of these references, which would have led me to adding the book to my Amazon wishlist, then promptly forgetting about it until now.

It was also available as an enhanced ebook, which might have been interesting, but it no longer seems to be available. There’s a bit about the ebook (and the Morgan exhibit) in this Atlantic article. (Weirdly, I can find an Italian language version in the Apple ebook store, but no English version.) I could go off on a tangent here about the transient nature of enhanced ebooks, vs. good old-fashioned dead-tree books, but I probably shouldn’t.

Anyway, having gone back and reread the original story, I remember it now, and I understand a bit about why it was so well-regarded. I haven’t gone and pushed the “buy now” button on the hardcover book, though. I went on a bit of a comics buying spree yesterday, so I don’t want to get started on another one today. But it was fun to follow all these little threads through the internet and think about the old days of Raw and how one six-page story created in 1989 by a guy from New Jersey can be referenced in a speech given in 2018 by a British writer, at a festival in Leeds.

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