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3 Story: The Secret History of the Giant Man Hardcover – September 29, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
3 Story is a modern fable, exploring the life of the giant man, Craig Pressgang, through the experiences of three women—his mother, wife and daughter. The promotional material claims that Pressgang's life is well documented in his official CIA biography, Giant Man: Pillar of America, and the opening pages present his early life in such a straightforward manner that it is easy to believe it is a real story. As Pressgang reaches extraordinary heights, however, the story takes off into the realms of fantasy. Born during WWII, Pressgang's life serves as metaphor for the American mood over the past 60 years, from the flush optimism of the 1950s to the confusion about the country's place in the world as the 21st century dawns. Throughout, the tale retains an emotional honesty, as Kindt meditates on the nature of love and belonging, the changes one makes in a relationship and the exploitation of anyone identified as different. Kindt's washed-out, watercolor palate helps establish the lugubrious tone; his lovely, deceptively simple style reveals the characters' pain—and occasional moments of joy. The special enhanced die-cut cover is an appropriately elegant detail for this moving graphic novel. (Oct.)
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Top Customer Reviews
I have read it 8 times already, and still kept the same feelings I had when reading it for the first time.
Totally recommend it.
Then you put the SF element back in and nothing really changes. Not for the worse that is. The book still works as a kind of parable and nothing really prevents you from reading it verbatim. It might be that it's even more powerful like that. If you stretch your imagination to encompass a possibility of a giant man and “real life” repercussions of his existence you get a layer that's not present when you take things down to earth.
Matt Kindt writes and draws in simple, broad strokes, sometimes reminiscent of Jeff Lemire's work. This simplicity is deceiving, of course. While ultimately simple in it's “message”, there's nothing simple in evading traps of pathos laid all over chosen path. As far as I can say Kindt managed to evade all of them, making vivid images and powerful emotions in somewhat subdued sepia tones in the process.
We don't hear much from the Giant Man himself. We see him as others saw him, we look at ripples his presence makes in the pond of reality, in the lives of people closest to him. At the end of the book he is almost as much a stranger as he was in the beginning. Somehow this is fitting. Both as an SF move (how man people can really understand something so alien) and as a metaphoric move (hinting on and drawing power from the way we experience our own reality). After all, this wasn't his story to tell.
“The Secret History of the Giant Man” is best when it takes its time. When it 'wastes' panels to deliver emotion. Every now and then Kindt rushes a book (third story feels particularly rushed) and this sounds out of tune. Fortunately, these are rare events and magic of storytelling remains unbroken most of the time. This is not a landmark book, nor will it be remembered as particularly important in the cultural landscape inhabited by American comic book artists of late 2000's. It is, however, one of those hidden gems that you don't hear much talk about. Just laying there, under pile of worthless dirt, waiting to be discovered.
3 Story is split into 3 sections from the points of view of the women in Craig's life with the first told from his mother, which is surprisingly emotional given many pages have little to no text. Craig's mother comes off lamentable, yet very cold especially once Craig leaves home for college. The detachment of Craig is already present at a young age.
The second story is told from Craig's love interest Jo. This section gives you a good feeling on how living with someone so large can be hard on not just the giant. Craig continues to become more and more remote with his affections and humanity. One of the most interesting aspects is that as Craig grows his hearing and eye sight change with him. Especially, when he has delayed responses to touch and pain as his pain receptors are further removed from his brain. During this time we're also treated to Craig's involvement with the CIA as a supposed secret agent. Keep in mind most of this section takes place during the cold war times of the 1950s and 60s.
The 3rd part tells of Craig's time out in the wilderness as he faces his imminent demise from the point of view of the daughter he never really knew. This section is the shortest, which could have been longer, but that was my desire for more. The melancholy ending is more than fitting to this sad life story.
Overall, Craig is a very difficult character to understand, but Kindt gives you a view from the outside instead of the inside on what it could be like living with a giant. Surprisingly moving, 3 Story is one of the better liteary graphic novels I've had the pleasure of reading. I give 3 Story 9 out of 10 Hats. Kindt is best known for Super Spy, which has been lauded by most as one of the best graphic novel in recent years that I'll now have to check out. If 3 Story is any indication of Kindt's talent he'll be here for a long time.