Since Tom and Hazel both brought up comics artist Greg Land recently, I thought I might mention that I was interested-but-wary of the Marvel Now! Iron Man series because on the one hand Gillen but on the other hand Land* and then I read it and was disgumused (disgusted/amused) by Land’s inability to draw Tony Stark doing anything but leering and smirking so heavily it would be distracting in a Carry On film and it’s a relief when he puts on the suit. I don’t much care for the Secret Revelations of a Hidden Past! storyline either, so I’m out altogether; but I’m not sorry to have another reason to roll my eyes whenever Greg Land’s name comes up.
(I will concede that his layouts and use of negative space are often enjoyably striking. Milo Manara does good detail work too; doesn’t mean I respect his thirty-years-of-drawing-the-same-woman-every-time ass.)
*I’m not the best person to explain any of this, but in brief I like Kieron Gillen’s writing, particularly his Journey into Mystery and Young Avengers, which display an unusual thoughtfulness and willingness to embrace emotional stakes in the middle of Cosmic Foofaraw that goes beyond the typical hurt-someone-close-to-the-hero bullshit of hero-oriented storytelling; and I despise Greg Land for his obnoxious overreliance on photo reference, but particularly his unabashedly tracing of porn layouts for female characters.
Which isn’t to say that I’m totally enamored of the We Are Cartoonists In The Noble Tradition Of Charles Schulz brigade, either. It was about ten years ago that the sentence “I’m not a big Chris Ware fan, possibly because my adolescence was not notably unhappier than my childhood” first passed my lips, and the same sentiment applies in varying degrees to Chester Brown, Daniel Clowes, Ivan Brunetti, and Seth.
Let me be clear: I love each of these guys’ work, I think they’re all master cartoonists, I owe them an enormous aesthetic debt. This is really only
a critique of skepticism about the emotional content of their work.
nickminichino replied to your post:
alan moore channeling c.s. lewis > alan moore channeling lewis carroll (i assume. i’m not going anywhere near lost girls)I only got partway through Lost Girls, which might be an embarrassing confession (lol no one finishes a porn) if the truth weren’t even more embarrassing (it wasn’t doing it for me, in any of the relevant senses).
I have a fractious relationship in general with the “UK wave” of writers who, no question, did a lot to make a certain segment of US mainstream comics intellectually compelling and hilariously subversive in the 80s and 90s. Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, Garth Ennis, and Warren Ellis are usually the quintet I’m thinking of, though Jamie Delano, Peter Milligan, John Wagner, and Mark (fucking) Millar also had an impact; but since they’re not hero-worshipped by fans in quite the same way I don’t feel so truculently opposed to them.
As a recovering Anglophile, I’m always going to be attracted by UK attempts to explain the US, but as a patriot, which means someone who places a lot of stock in the US’s own ability to explain itself, I’m never going to be convinced.
Part of that Guthriean patriotism includes a lingering skepticism towards the whole industrial-era assembly-line aesthetic of mainstream comics — really a jumble of aesthetics fighting one another for dominance — because I prefer the traditionalist handcrafted (even faux-handcrafted) aesthetic which I usually identify as “cartooning.” (For instance, my Brit-skepticism does not include Eddie Campbell, who I do hero-worship; perhaps for as shallow a reason as that he does his own lettering.)
But ultimately I don’t trust Moore’s mythological horror-swamp over Walt Kelly’s, or Gaiman’s Western psychogeography over George Herriman’s, or Morrison’s pomo fractured identity-play over Robert Crumb’s, or Ennis’ hellishness-of-war over Harvey Kurtzman’s, or Ellis’ pulp synthesis over that of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. (Who, incidentally, deserve to have all their non-Superman work collected. I’ve been flipping through a whole bunch of comic books from the late 30s and early 40s, and their pages are by far the most readable after Sheldon Mayer’s.)
I read all of Promethea in a single sitting last night and ever since I got up my head has been buzzing with thought. Like, a single Feminist Taylor Swift tweet spun me into a complex theory of Story being the underlying engine of human existence, to which modern ideologies whether neoliberal or late-capitalist are intrinsically opposed, because safety is stasis and unlimited growth is metastasis and both are essentially non-narrative.
Which is kind of the conceptual leap I’ve been needing to make in the silly story I’ve been writing, so uh yeah okay Alan Moore I guess your spellcasting worked you creepy Eurocentric old goat.
N’Sync in “Pirate scum Are We.”
I’m not a writer I just type a lot
Promotional postcard for Trina Robbins’ newest, up-to-date history book. PRETTY IN INK: American Women Cartoonists 1896-2013. www.fantagraphics.com/prettyinink
Sleep on the floor.
One effect of not being used to air that holds moisture is that when you try to ration bread rather than eating it all at once you just end up throwing out a loaf of mold.
All-Star Comics #9 (1942), Gardner Fox & Everett E. Hibbard
That time the Justice Society of America were ordered to feed State Department propaganda to Latin American countries and made J. Edgar Hoover an honorary member.
The old adage is true—writing is rewriting. But it takes a kind of courage to confront your own awfulness (and you will be awful) and realize that, if you sleep on it, you can come back and bang at the thing some more, and it will be less awful. And then you sleep again, and bang even more, and you have something middling. Then you sleep some more, and bang, and you get something that is actually coherent. Hopefully when you are done you have a piece that reasonably approximates the music in your head. And some day, having done that for years, perhaps you will get something that is even better than the music in your head. Becoming a better writer means becoming a re-writer. But that first phase is so awful that most people don’t want any part. — Ta-Nehisi Coates (via theatlantic)
Just lost five paragraphs of agonized self-reflection because I wasn’t watching where I tapped. No great loss to your dashboard.