Hope For The Future issue 13 and issue 14 (plus #1-12 whilst I’m at it….)
“Hope For The Future is an ongoing comic book series in which three ordinary twentysomethings attempt to avert the impending apocalypse, defeat the forces of chaos, and get drunk on a student budget.”
I’ve not read any Hope For The Future before, and had absolutely no idea what to expect. There’s 12 issues before this and although most of the story is now online, I figured I’d wing it and see what hits me as a first time reader of the story. Is this a stupid move? (edit… yes)
So, let’s discover together……
I get the feeling Perrins wants this to be some kind of intro issue anyway, as he opens with a neat 1-page text recap; chronicling the bizarre misadventures of the series’ protagonists Hannah, Lee, and Greg. The final entry reads:
“Lee acquires tickets to the Lizard festival. He and Greg run into a psychopath, and find Hannah has disappeared.”
It starts absolutely brilliant with five pages of two characters (I’m assuming it’s Lee and Greg) car sharing their way to the Lizard Festival. That first 5 page section absolutely sets me up for what I’m hoping will be a full issue of the same; great to and fro banter, funny dialogue, and a twist at the end that reminds me that this may not just be a simple character thing and may have a heavy dose of interesting weirdness:
Okay. Two blokes in a car on their way to a festival, huge whale appearing out of nowhere. Funny characterisation and weird shit happening. This could be bloody good.
Except from that point onwards it went a little downhill. Too much backstory taken for granted, too little explaination, too much chat, huge chunks of overly clunky dialogue, too many unknown characters. Yes, it may be daft to try and jump into issue 13 of a series, but honestly, with a little more thought about the ways to get a reader settled quickly into your story, that simple stuff such as actually naming your cast and reminding us every so often who they are, then I might have gotten more out of it.
So after that great start we’re dropped into a festival, where everyone seems to be equally interested in partying and sharing stories of the weird and wonderful folk tales, myths, legends, and out and out horror stories. We have a Loch Ness monster thing, a bit of Bogeyman, some Arthurian-ish cursed knights, and more.
Then we have the girl left behind. She calls by a flat and prepares herself for a night of seduction soundtracked by Louie Louie. Again, great art, bit of that Philip Bond bloke creeps in perhaps? There’s a nice bit of comedy in the to and fro conversation, it looks really, really good, but again, I was just left wondering who the hell these people are.
Then it’s back to the festival, where Lee and Greg find themselves on a long, long beer run, get lost and stumble into something like the village of the damned, and all the while we’re expecting some kind of mythical sasquatch-ish thing to appear (you know, like that one on the cover).
In the end, some 40 pages later I just finished it with a sense of frustration. There’s some great art in here, really nice clean stuff, lovely lines, but the story had me questioning myself. Maybe I was missing something, maybe it really did all tie so many plot strands together and maybe I needed to go back and see what I was missing….?
So I did. I went right back to the beginning and caught up. Issues 1-12 are all online at the Hope For The Future site.
At this point I did have a lot more about words about reading the first 12 issues, but I junked it all. Suffice it to say the very early issues are really, really ropey and the just for the web colouring is an assault on the eyes at times.
I wouldn’t honestly recommend reading much of the archive like I did, skip forward to issue 9, where the storylines get a little better, although still seem to be striving for some reason to actually exist, and the art’s much improved. Even better, Perrin seems to like the artwork as well by this point, since he stops trying to obliterate it with hideous colours and instead settles on a simple tonal palette that doesn’t make me want to figure out how to set my monitor to black & white.
A reread of issue 13 after my trawl through the archive and it’s still confusing, albeit a little less so; those first few pages still impress greatly, and now I’m a little more into the rhythm of the thing, and I can really appreciate how far Perrins has come with his art.
My big problem is still this meandering, unclear, unfocused story…..
But wait, that’s not the end, keep going…..
Which brings me to Hope For The Future issue 14.
That came to me yesterday. And it’s like the veil has been lifted from my eyes. Suddenly Perrins seems to be drawing it all together. The art is really lovely, he switches styles back and forth, but here it never jars like it did with the early stuff.
Issue 14 is all about the missing Hannah, whose past is the thing that’s going to tie it all together. She’s been exploring, here and possibly back when she was a child – it might be just memories, it might be a dream, hell, it might be some weird, magical, time travel thing, whatever it is, it works, it really bloody works….. and she’s come to some very important conclusions….
So, FINALLY, I get it, FINALLY it comes good for me.
Read issue 13 on its own and it’s confusion and frustration. Read issues 1-13 and it’s confusion, frustration and a lot of bad storytelling and art before it gets good. But read issues 13 and 14 together and it works. It doesn’t completely make sense yet, but it doesn’t frustrate either, it intrigues, it makes you want to know what’s going to happen next, it hooks you in. And on top of it all, it looks bloody lovely.
And here’s where I’ll say something Perrins may hate me for. If you’re new to Hope For The Future don’t do what I did. DO NOT GO BACK.
Treat issue 13 as your start point, and ignore everything that’s gone before. Sure, you’ll be scratching your head in frustration through issue 13, but by the time you finish issue 14 it not only sort of makes sense, but you’ll feel like you’ve read something packed with potential.
If I could tempt Perrins’ wrath a little more, I’d even go as far as suggesting that he scraps issues 1-12 altogether, treats them as a form of comic apprenticeship, lets the books go out of print, re-labels issue 13 and 14 as Hope For The Future Volume 2 numbers 1 & 2, writes a couple of pages of prose introduction and catch up and just gives himself a fresh start.
Because if he did that, he’d have the start of something really very good. It’s light, it’s funny, it’s beautifully drawn now, and there’s a storyline developing across these two issues that I really want to keep up with. It took a while, and frankly it’s been hard work getting here, but moving forward to issue 15 (Volume 2, issue 3 in my head now), I’m really thinking he’s got something good.