The Imaginary World of Memorial


Memorial #3, out now, takes Chris Roberson and Rich Ellis’ fairytale series and delves right into the heart of the story. While the first two issues showed us new worlds, creatures and ideas; issue #3 takes them and juxtaposes them with our own reality. As lead character Em starts to regain her purpose and work out what’s going on, so Roberson’s script starts to layer in some subtle ideas about the nature of creativity and creation. So! Sounds like it’s time for Comics Vanguard to pick out the ol’ magnifying glass and investigate further.

Half of the issue tours Em round a grand library, overseen by a man called Babylon – obviously a reference to the grandstanding King from the Bible, who orders a tower built in his honour. Only, Babylon wants the tower to climb all the way to Heaven, which makes God cross – so God strikes the tower down, and forces foreign tongues upon all the builders. This causes the builders to learn French, English, Russian, and (for some poor sods) Japanese. This towering library seems to have something in common with that, as Babylon discusses with Em the endless possibility of a story. The various librarians narrate their own personal narratives as Em walks by, in a series of languages.

What’s interesting in this comic is the way in which the characters create their own reality, essentially playing God as they build a narrative and act it out. The existence of “Is”, “Was” and “Maybe” as physical worlds where people and ideas live suggests that perhaps reality only exists because we create it using our imagination. Babylon states in the issue that the people of the library are all blind, which allows them to imagine what the past might have been like, and what might happen in the future. Take that and apply it to yourself: if you close your eyes, are you in the process destroying reality around you, only to remake it when you open your eyes once more? If you look at a green apple and close your eyes, does the apple remain green? Or does it not matter?

Babylon also discusses how imagination/narrative can not only create or destroy reality, but also how they assist in understanding what reality really is. It’s by creating stories – “what if I trip on this crack in the pavement?” – that people prepare themselves and keep themselves safe. By creating a scenario where you fall over, you act to ensure that this narrative never comes to pass. And when Roberson has physically created a land of Maybe (home to Schrodinger, the cat who may or may not exist), it begs the reader to wonder what might exist there. Here’s the great thing: if you wonder if the land of Maybe has unicorns living there, you create the possibility that they do, and therefore you confirm their existence in the land of maybe. Upon doing this, the unicorns then transfer across to the land of Is, as you have just confirmed their existence. The reader actively takes part in creating the World of Memorial, and setting out what does and does not exist there.

The most telling line of the issue comes towards the end, as part of Roberson’s narration. It goes; “without knowing what she had done, Em had unlocked something”.

That’s what the premise of Memorial allows the reader to do. Subconsciously and consciously, they act to build Worlds, which exist parallel to one another. It’s an utterly fascinating thing, and demonstrates just one more reason why you should BUY THIS BOOK.

We’ll go into all this theory in more and more depth as the series continues. Which, is something you should be excited for! Or is it? You decide – it’s your future.
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