Review – Monolith (2021) #1
Written by ROBERTO RECCHIONI & MAURO UZZEO
Illustrated by LRNZ
Published by Magnetic Press
Volume 1 Issue 1 Available: 30th June 2021
Full 192 page Hardback Available on 3rd August 2021 (at Waterstones)
A taught psychological thriller written by famed Italian screenwriter Roberto Recchioni (ORPHANS) and beautifully painted by artist LRNZ (GOLEM). With a wide range of visual styles mirroring the changing psyche of the main character as she deals with her looming dilemma, this book is a cinematic feast for the eyes.
Sandra is a young mother still adjusting to the responsibilities of parenthood after a life filled with bad decisions. She has made the most responsible decision to drive the safest car ever built, the Monolith, to protect her infant son, David, from her own accident-prone nature. During a trek across the desert to visit her husband in LA, they are stopped by a collision with a deer in the middle of the night. Checking on the damage, she accidentally locks herself out of the car, with David trapped inside. Now, isolated from civilization, she must save her son from a car designed to be an indestructible vault on wheels. The sun is rising, heating the car’s interior, and time is running out!
Written by ROBERTO RECCHIONI & MAURO UZZEO
At the start of the book, Recchioni tells the story of how the whole story of Monolith came to him overnight and that the hard process has been negotiating with studies and publishers to get his idea moving forward.
I can really relate to Monolith for a few reasons, firstly I worked for Jaguar for about 5 years in the early 2000s and part of the induction is called “Green-Blooding” where you are indoctrinated with the history and prestige of the marque over a few weeks giving you an almost cult-like devotion to a brand of car or model. I can still bore people with stories of the 24 hour Le Mons victories, the Lions Line hand-drawn on every car and others of useless facts. Secondly, I’m a terrible driver I get distracted, look around and find myself driving for ten minutes on autopilot, I now drive an electric car with collision alarms, lane control and adaptive cruise control all to deal with my bad driving.
So a comic about an all-powerful car that turns on its owner is right up my street. The issue starts with a classic car advert, all flashy shorts of the family, the engine and inspiring flyover shots. Panning out we see David watching the advert while his parents are fighting. Sandra is furious her husband Carl is spying on her and walks out with David. She doesn’t deny that she’s doing wrong things, it’s that he’s controlling and spying her.
She takes her crappy old car and immediately thinks Carl is following her distracting her from the road. A near collision with a lorry show Carl is following in his shiny black Monolith but he offers this as a safer ride than her car and shows her how to work with the car’s AI system via his phone.
Taking the car and phone, she starts to relax but asks the car to turn off tracking as she’s sure Carl is monitoring from his laptop. At a petrol station, she fills the car and flirting with a handsome biker, decides to use him to relieve some tension while putting David in the car. Wracked with mother’s guilt she drives away after the quickie towards her sister. but as usual, Sandra gets distracted and hits a deer.
Recchioni’s and Uzzeo’s simple but relevant message about broken human’s and perfect machines hits a nerve with many as the issues in Black Mirror become less Sci-fi and more Sci-fact. Sandra is not likeable, but neither is Carl, they are obviously not good for each other… or David. The Monolith seems a better parent than either of them but how do you break into the world’s most secure car?
LRNZ’s work is breathtaking. Each fully water-coloured panel belongs in a gallery. The first few pages, showing the TV advert, are straight out of a marketing agency’s pitch and could be used to storyboard any number of adverts. There are no lines, just colours allowing the work to feel light and more human.
Sandra’s expressions are so emotive we feel her guilt, anger and frustration even though most times she’s the engineer of her own downfall. I can’t wait to see this as a movie but until then the stunning work by LRNZ is more than enough for this story. You can actually feel the crack of the animal’s bones when you read this panel.
Speaking to Magnetic Press LRNZ said
I tried to recreate a cinematic experience, rather than using my usual synthesis of stylized graphics. Except in some very special sequences, reality in Monolith is rendered with no visible line art, with colour alone. The main reason behind this direction is because Monolith became a live-action movie while I was working on the book! I became involved with the film as a visual supervisor and travelled to the USA to oversee all of the production design. I tried to convey all of the experience gained from working on the set of the movie, focused on recreating what I actually saw out there in the Utah desert, without letting any European clichés or visual culture alter the many vivid memories of those beautiful, amazing new placesLRNZ, Magnetic Press
I can see why so many people loved this idea when the writers pitched it to various studios and it’s so disappointing to her it languished for years waiting to be greenlit. Thankfully Magnetic Press and Kickstarter have now brought this to life and i need to get the next issue as soon as possible.
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