Stephen Burger’s “TALK!” is a self-published dissection of a typical comic book. It proves that not all books need to have action to remain interesting. It fails to move past low-level commentary but remains undeniably visually interesting throughout. Stephen Burger is one to look out for, as his dialogue is razor sharp, and his art is even better.
WRITTEN BY: Stephen Burger
ART BY: Stephen Burger
GET IT HERE: http://www.stephenburger.com/
“TALK!” aims to be something different than the competition. It aspires to be a dissection of the genre, and participator at the same time. The narrative spun on the pages deals with the lack of good dialogue in comics. While also following a protagonist who seems to be out of good comic ideas.
Sadly I’m not a fan of material mirroring the genesis of an idea. Writing a comic book about a person having a conversation about writing a comic book of conversations is uninspired. It is ambitious, but the ambition falters when the end result never amounts to anything greater than the proposition. Which is to say, “TALK!” never rises above its concept.
The dialogue throughout the book is casual. It weaves around the pages like a snake, and feels incredibly at ease. While this is great, the conversational aspect feels monotonous and struggles to tread new ground until the end of the book. In the end the narrative splinters, providing the most interesting pages. Burger throws some riddles on the page, only to brush past them. Finally he ends with a disconnected time traveler just trying to get some help at a store. It’s ambitious, but doesn’t really save the book. In the end it’s still just two people talking about the inception of the book you’re reading. Hardly some Charlie Kaufman level of insight, which it seems to believe it is.
Few pages break the monotony of the conversation, but do so in wonderful and dynamic ways. Color is dotted throughout, which gives some pages a more unique visual flair than those that surround them. Burger’s art is the strongest part of this book. Facial expressions are drawn with incredible detail. The lines in the character’s faces tell us everything about what they are going through. The panels that break from the conversation are incredible and much needed. While the panels focusing on art-house angles and visual flair fall flat because they are so disorienting, and because Burger draws so much attention to them.
“TALK!” is communicated with such a callous voice that Burger seems to know what’s best for comics everywhere. The unfortunate thing is, he does nothing to remedy the problems he outlines. He offers up dialogue as the remedy for comics, but writers like Scott Snyder, and Jonathan Hickman have been giving us this remedy for years. Instead Burger focuses on a story that is self reflective and so full of criticism that it collapses under its own weight. The art is beyond amazing, and Burger would be a great asset to any book out there. Surely with a little more focus and insight on the issues that are important to him Burger could have something really imperative to say, but as it stands he’s not quite there.
Rating: 2/5 skulls