The other night, on Sunday, to be specific we had an ice storm that came through our area. It began with cold rain, and I noticed after a while out the window that it had turned to a slushy ice mixture. The above photo is the next day looking out to the west on the highway I live on (I live outside the city limits). The photo below that is looking up my driveway. I took it after I got out on Monday to retrieve the mail.
I really didn't think too much about it at the time. I was inside as snug as a bug in a rug, watching the Oscars, and then later switched channels to catch the next episode to The Walking Dead. I'd made some chili that morning so all was fine with me and I was set for the night.
Later that morning, however, I was still in bed, still about halfway asleep. I remember I heard this weird swooshing sound, and who knows, maybe a kerplunk as well. But I was still drowsy, and paid no attention to it, rolled over, and went back to sleep a bit more. Whenever I finally did get up, and went into the kitchen to start the day and make my morning coffee, which is my routine, I looked out the kitchen window, and saw the downed pine tree. Like my father was apt to say a lot in his older years, "Always something."
Our weather here has been on this seesaw effect. It will get warm for a day or two and then plummet to around freezing again, and that will last for about three or four days. I guess it could be worse. I don't know how people further up north, like in Chicago or Minnesota deal with such frigid conditions. At any rate, last Friday, when we had nice weather, I had to get out and take some paperwork downtown, so while I was down there stepped into the library. I found a copy of Jeff Smith's graphic novel, RASL.
RASL is a fifteen issue comic series now collected into a nice hardback book that deals with a dimension hopping art thief by that goes by the name of Rasl. Previous to this Jeff Smith had done the all ages book called Bone that was a charming mixture of fantasy and a bit of romance that was in the tradition of Walt Kelly's Pogo, Charles Schulz a little bit, and a bit like Carl Barks' duck tales for Disney. It has brilliant artwork, and a cool storyline too. Jeff Smith's art is very sequential, and expressive, which has a naturalistic flow to it that makes it easy to follow and enjoyable. He began his career in animation, and you can tell that influence on his art.
Sometime back I'd read a review about RASL and although it sounded a bit appealing I didn't think much about pursuing it. However, when I saw it sitting on the New Reads shelf at the library, picked it up, and carried it over to a comfortable chair for closer inspection, was won over pretty quickly. The story, as I said, is about a time traveling art thief, and that's the set up. But we quickly get a flashback of Rasl's former life as a physicist name Robert. While he and two other scientist were experimenting in a secret program, they discovered that time travel might be feasible. On the sly, Robert test the jump suit that they had been inventing and discovers that it does indeed work. There are many tie-ins with the series, part of it is about the famed scientist, Nikola Tesla, there's a small part about the Bermuda Triangle and The Philadelphia Experiment. Also we find out shortly in the story, that there's an odd shaped man following Rasl. He sort of has a rat-like face, and at first I didn't know if Smith was just exaggerating his face not to confuse the reader or maybe there's more to it that that (I haven't quite gotten that far into the series yet--I'm about halfway through it).
But we see where Rasl, can jump through these different layers of time. It's sort of like the layers of an onion or a layered cake. In each zone, things are a little bit different from his real world. So far I've seen him jump into three different dimensions. In one world, he notices a Bob Dylan album cover, however, in that world Dylan doesn't change his name, on the album he has kept his real name, Robert Zimmerman. That's another thing. When Rasl does these time jumps, it's stressful and leaves him weak and a bit confused. So whenever this rat face guy shows up, he's vulnerable unless he has rested. Also oddly, he can recharge his energy, through sex.
So Robert or Rasl has abandoned his life's work, and is selling artwork for profit, and now hiding out and running through other dimensions pursued by a hit man. That's really about all you need to know to get started. There's also a little ghost girl that he keeps bumping into in each dimension as well, but what her story is to the overall story, I haven't gotten to yet. If this all sounds too complex to you, it's not. Jeff Smith's storytelling is clear and concise, and he continually draws you in the further it goes. Click here and scroll down, for an excerpt of the story, it's the opening storyline to the title.