Book of the Month

Book of the Month – 3 Story – The Secret History of The Giant Man

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Size: pages
Price: 19.95

I hate it when I’m late to the game with talented creators, but in the case of Matt Kindt, I was about a year late.  You see, in 2007, Kindt published Super Spy with Top Shelf.  I didn’t get around to reading it until late in 2008, but as soon as I finished it, I could see and agree why it was heralded as one of the best graphic novels of 2007.  When I spoke to Kindt at the Emerald City Comic Con and found out his next graphic novel, 3 Story – The Secret History of the Giant Man, would be published through Dark Horse, I made a mental note that I had to read it as soon as it came out.

3 Story was released this past September and I grabbed it and read it as quickly as I could, and then I put it down, went to get a drink, and then came back and read it again.  Matt Kindt has done it again with 3 Story, writing and illustrating a complete graphic novel with such artistry and emotion, that it’s without hyperbole that I can say that he’s one of the most talented graphic novelists out there.

3 Story comes in at just under 200 pages and tells the story of a man, Craig Pressgang, who is born with a problem.  From early in his infancy his mother and doctors realized that the pace he was growing wasn’t natural.  He was growing very big, very fast.  By the time he reaches adulthood, he’s a giant, coming in at about 3 stories tall.  It’s impossible to fade into the background when you’re that tall, and as Craig grows up, he achieves reluctant celebrity.  He gets endorsement deals and is cast into the public spotlight instantly.  This gets the attention of the CIA, who decide to make him a secret agent (based on the theory that the best secret agents are ones who are hiding in plan sight).  He is able to meet a love of his life, marry her and have a child, but beyond that his life is far from normal.  Those are the pieces of a wonderfully nuanced story that develops over the man’s lifetime, where the details aren’t what’s important, rather the manner in which Kindt tells his story.

Super Spy wonderfully wove complicated and intricate short stories into a great plot and storyline that developed like a puzzle in front of you as you read it.  Kindt takes a different approach with 3 Story, with what is essentially a very simple story.  The book is broken up into 3 stories, the first being Craig Pressgang’s early life through the eyes of his mother.  The second story is his adulthood life as experienced by his devoted wife as she tries to build a life with this enormous man.  And finally the third story is told through his daughter, who struggles with trying to understand who her father was, in the fallout of the end of his life.  By telling the story of Craig Pressgang through the women in his life, Kindt is able to keep his protagonist constantly at arm’s length.  We’re there with him as he struggles through his life, but we never get close enough, just close enough to think we know how he’s feeling.  The complexity of Super Spy is replaced with the quiet nuance of relationships and emotions and Kindt nails it.

In addition to the narrative format, Kindt is an amazing artist.  He is able to draw his characters and scenes with an inherent emotion, and the book is layered with sadness as the plot develops.  In addition to his drawn and painted pages, he uses in mixed media to help progress things, as we go from sequential art in a series of pages, to a page from Pressgang’s biography or an advertisement that Pressgang appeared in as an endorsement.  These story diversions are beautifully executed in their graphic design and never get in the way of the story.  Again with delicate nuance, each instance helps to move the story along and is crucial to understanding the life of Craig Pressgang.  The mixed media pieces along with Kindt’s art give the entire book a retro feel that makes reading this book warm and inviting.  

What I find absolutely amazing about Matt Kindt is his imagination and ability to create this character, and his affliction which appears to be simple to understand.  But he really delves into the idea of the real world ramifications of what would happen to man who is this tall.  The science and practicality approach to the book keeps it grounded in reality to a point where I can believe this has happened.  To see the realities of Craig Pressgang in the second story, juxtaposed with the tales of myth and mystery depicted in the third story round out the life of Pressgang in a wonderfully complete way.  Also, apparently Kindt has something for spies and espionage, as the inclusion of the CIA and the secret agent status of Pressgang was not something I saw coming, yet proved to be crucial to the story and absolutely worked.

All in all Matt Kindt with 3 Story has been able to, again, create a world of characters and places that immediately draws me in and makes me never want to leave, or put the book down.  Every page contains some little surprise or gift of story or art that makes it one of the most fulfilling graphic novel I’ve read this year.  3 Story is easily one of my top 10 books published in 2009, which is already a crowded list as this year is shaping up to me an amazing year for graphic novels.  I can’t wait to see more work from Kindt, who is easily one of the most talented creators working today.

Ron Richards
Gotta love a die-cut cover too
ron@ifanboy.com

You can get 3 Story – The Secret History of The Giant Man from Amazon – Go get your copy right now!

Comments

  1. Thanks, Ron!  I’m totally going to be getting this book on payday!  Sounds like it’s right up my alley.

    Good lookin’ out!

  2. My brain just exploded; cause I remember seeing this in September and now it’s just deja vu for me.

    But I love what Kindt did this week with Strange Tales #2. It wasn’t my favorite in terms of story, but I love how his artwork looks like it was done on watercolor/crayon. (I do mean that in a positive light, dont flame me!) So now I got Super Spy and 3 Story to pick up, thanks Ron!

  3. Read this the week it came out and it’s nothing short of phenomenal. I’d read Superspy and thought it was okay but with this book, Kindt’s working on an unbefore expected level.

  4. i am really excited for this book. it looks great

  5. Read it last week and while it looks absolutely gorgeous, I found the story slightly better than average.  Still, points for being different.

  6. Great another good review and another book I have to buy.  Don’t you ifanboy people know there’s a down turn in the economy.  I mean, sheesh.  

  7. weird i just bought and read this over the weekend. loved it. can’t wait to get superspy.

  8. Bought this the day it came out (cost me $1, due to my comic shop’s graphic novel discount program). Finished it this morning — so very good. I think Ron nailed it in the podcast, when he said this was a very simple, nuanced story. Great stuff. Beautifully designed. Matt Kindt rocks. Glad to see this as a "book of the month."

  9. Just blown away by this book, as well Ron. As you know, I picked this up from Matt himself at Windy City and devoured it on the plane ride home. It’s astoundingly well rendered and the symmetry of the book is something I don’t think most writers could replicate if they tried.

    Wonderful stuff, and I particularly applauded the almost random use of realistic faux adverts in the book. To think that a cartoonist with such a distinctive, simple line would also create those realistic parody pieces to break up the narrative really makes you realize how elevated this artform can be in the right hands.

  10. I loved, loved, loved SuperSpy, so I’m definitely excited for this one.  Darn my broke ass!