Previously published on geekspective.net, a no longer active site, written by Megan E. Pearson
Transmetropolitan ran from 1997-2002 and can be found in trade paperback format. It follows the story of Spider Jerusalem, gonzo journalist, and his “filthy assistants” (as he calls them). Spider is forced back into “The City” in order to produce some works after spending all of his advance without producing a book. His quest is to be an honest journalist, and he tries to avoid the fame that he has earned over the years. It is one of the best stories that I have ever read, and here is why everyone else should add it to their “to read list”.
Spider Jerusalem is Amazing
Really he is a hero regardless of the fact that it’s not a cape and cowl comic, and well that he’s not really a hero. I mean he is a tribute to Hunter S. Thompson, that on it’s own should sing his praises. Spider is on a quest to discover and report the truth. He wants to separate himself from the sensationalized news, and make sure that everything he is covering is a story worth being covered. In the process of doing so he may or may not use a bowel disruptor gun, and could arguable be called a little crazy (completely mad). He is an entertaining protagonist that you enjoy following, and his quest is ultimately a noble one. He balances an insane belief that he needs to do the right thing with his own bitter belief that it doesn’t really matter. He is both depressing and highly entertaining. Simply put, more characters need to be as compelling as Spider Jerusalem.
The Art and Setting is Insane
The graphic novel is set in The City, in a futuristic world. The City is filled with many different types of people and classes. While following Spider you see more and more of The City and realize how complex it is. There are various areas both nice and barely livable. The City paints a very realistic look at the stark differences between how people live based on their circumstances. In addition to being complex it’s also interesting to look at. The background for Spider on his journey is compelling story wise and compelling to look at. Each time you flip through the pages you will see things you missed the last time. The detail and effort put into creating this mega-city cannot be overstated enough. Since it is such a large place it also means that the reader won’t get bored as more of the city is painted on the journey.
It’s Extremely Well Written
Transmetropolitan balances a few different writing styles. There is the conversational tone, as well as Spider’s own writing. Spider is extremely well written, and every time the reader is treated to his insights it is captivating. Yet the way the story is told is a different writing style, but still just as good. This keeps Spider’s own writing separate from the core of the story so that both stand out and neither get flat. The graphic novel also manages to be accessible to many people without dumbing down it’s style.
It Balances Being Funny and Dramatic
Moments of Transmetropolitan will have the reader rolling over laughing, then it will have you wiping tears. The story in and of itself is dramatic and rather depressing more often than not. It’s not wrapped in a completely hopeless or lost package though. The humor that comes from Spider’s over the top antics helps the reader to keep going without being pulled down into a depression. It’s all at once heartbreak and inspiring, hilarious, and tear jerking. The balance used is nothing to scoff at. The overall drama could have easily gotten lost in humor, or the humor could have felt misplaced in such an important story. Instead though it’s balanced and entertaining.
It is Relevant
The need for more honesty in the media is something that we deal with every day. More and more the news has become sensationalized and biased. It’s impossible to really tell what information we are being fed that is real, and what is covered in personal opinion. It’s also hard to know what stories we are missing because they simply aren’t being covered. Transmetropolitan is, if nothing else, about the destruction of that. It’s about the need to report the truth regardless of how the ones reporting it feel about it, and about the desire to make sure all the important stories are being covered.