Can’t Get No TP Vertigo Rick Veitch Sept 11 9/11 NM 1st print


SKU: 15023 Category:


CAN’T GET NO SOFTCOVER – B&W. (Rick Veitch) Corporate exec Chad Roe had the “perfect” modern life. But the trophy wife, the prestigious job and the pills have always threatened to overwhelm him. Reeling from the financial collapse of his business, Chad descends into a night of depravity, only to wake up a “marked” man – literally – his body covered in a permanent tattoo. But Chad will be only one of the many whose lives are forever changed after that Tuesday morning of September 11, 2001. Instead of picking up the pieces, he takes to the road, heading straight into the shell-shocked heart of America on a search for salvation. 352 p. (71/4×51/2). Rick Veitch’s ambitious “Can’t Get No” is not only a landmark graphic novel or, more accurately, a graphic epic poem; it’s also one of the more thoughtful and even satisfying artistic responses to Sept. 11 to date. Taking advantage of comics’ unique ability to suspend and bend time, Veitch envisions an all-American cross-country odyssey with roots in Renaissance artist Albrecht Durer’s hard-core Christian allegories. Graffiti-inspired lawsuits bankrupt Chad Roe, the New York manufacturer of the “ultra-permanent” marker Eter-No-Mark. Roe drowns his failure, passes out and enjoys a full-body tribal makeover with his own product courtesy of a couple of wild art girls who let him join their road trip. The journey stops short at a New Jersey rest stop, where the trio witnesses the destruction of the Twin Towers. Roe proceeds to Atlantic City’s condemned “Bicentennial Land” and, finally, to a version of Burning Man, where he discovers his unique markings have inspired a cult following. There’s no dialogue, per se, only the ongoing Gnostic ruminations of an anonymous narrator who strikes a tone somewhere between poet John Ashbery and the cynical bullet points of “The Colbert Report.” As we ponder a giant bust of John F. Kennedy over several panels, Veitch’s narrator invokes “The Eternal Flame … It comes complete with an intelligence agency. The black-ops kind that runs things out of a secret headquarters … and stands behind every successful man.” Heady stuff indeed, and all the more so thanks to Veitch’s propulsive black-and-white imagery. With icons like the Twin Towers to deploy, “Can’t Get No” may represent his own Eter-No-Mark.

Don’t purchase this book with the expectation that it will “read” like any other graphic novel. What Rick has created with this tale is a new model within the graphic novel art form and it takes a little getting used to. I intended to read it casually over a few days in between other things going on in my life but that didn’t happen. Fifteen or twenty minutes into it I was hooked and my plans for the evening changed. It was that engrossing. I was totally engaged not only in the story but in where the book took my imagination.

To me, this felt like two different books in one package. The images tell one (or multiple) stories and the blocks of text that are superimposed over many of the frames are sometimes narrative, sometimes social commentary, sometimes pure poetry but consistently remarkable – and seemingly disconnected from what the images revealed.

I usually read the text of a comic or graphic novel first as I’m viewing the images but my usual didn’t work with “Can’t Get No”. It was too much of a stretch to approach the book in this way. I didn’t get too many pages into the story before I was forced to adapt my reading style to be able to fully appreciate this unique book. I began to consciously avoid the words and scan the odd-shaped double pages for the images only. I’d do that a few times and then let the images tell me a story.

I’d think about the images for a moment then finally read the text blocks that floated over the frames. What I had first understood was blended with what the text now suggested. Many times, my original imagining was completely different from the viewpoint I moved to by the time I turned the page. It was an surprisingly great reading experience.

Everyone I know was impacted differently by 9/11. I’m guessing most readers will respond as differently to the images and the multiple storylines suggested by this book. When I read it again I’m sure my interpretation and understanding will change.

Save this book for a time and place that affords you a few hours of quiet pleasure to really savor this one. It’s well worth it.

Near mint, 1st print.