Portland Memorial 

Local Comics Creators Get Lost in a World of Fables in Memorial

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EM HAS NO MEMORY. She finds herself at a Portland hospital with only a gold charm necklace to give her any clue to her past. Then things get real weird for her, in a land where literary and cultural characters run rampant and fantasy worlds collide. That's the premise behind Portlanders Chris Roberson and Rich Ellis' comic book series Memorial, collected here in a six-issue hardcover. Wrap a whole host of fairy tale characters around that package and it makes for a rich Stumptown-based adventure.

At one point in the story, a character says, "It's an old, old story, but I think you might recognize bits and pieces of it..." How true that is. Memorial has echoes of biblical stories, Greek mythology, fairy tales, and modern comic series like Bill Willingham's Fables and Mike Carey's literary The Unwritten. In fact, Memorial is an almost aggressive mélange that manages to create its own set of rules, even if it's at times confusing what those rules are, exactly.

But don't let me grump on Memorial, because its interior logic gets increasingly clear, and this is a series that promises to get mesmerizing now that some of the backstory has been set. Roberson, of Eisner-nominated iZombie fame, is a crisp and engaging writer, while Ellis' artwork is beautifully rendered, with thoughtfully executed panelwork and good pacing. It's a very pretty series, full of fun Portland scenery executed by local comics creators. Plus, I get the feeling the next story arc is going to really soar now that the world's foundation has been laid.

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