Month: February 2005

A Mite More on ‘Mazing Man

 A Mite More on ‘Mazing Man

I wish that I had time to write a huge piece on ‘Mazing Man (yeah, well, maybe you would, Fiore, if you’d stop going bonkers in your own comment-threads!)… I re-iterate that I think it’s a wonderful series, and I will write about it someday (gotta get through Cerebus first though! Palnu Trilogy tomorrow–for sure!)

Right now, though–I just wanted to remark upon an interesting subplot, involving dog-faced comic book writer Denton’s proxy “Barker”, in the interpolated Zoot Sputnick tales (perfectly pencilled by puckish Fred Hembeck), which anticipates a lot of what Grant Morrison later did in Animal Man!  Of course, the heart of this series is elsewhere (in the ensemble-cast wonderment generated by ‘Maze, Denton, KP, Eddie, Brenda, and even good ol’ Guido)–and Morrison’s real achievement was to use this kind of whimsical fourth-wall breaking as a base of operations from which to stage a genuinely affective assault upon the reader’s emotions and mind… so I’m not really comparing the two…but still–you’ll see what I mean if you check out this page (drawn by Stephen DeStefano & scripted by Bob Rozakis):

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okay! schoolwork beckons!

Good Afternoon Friends!

Dave

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Hark!

Hark!

1. Our classroom discussion of Squadron Supreme will conclude this week–and the new discussion-prompt (in which I take extreme issue with this facile libertarian reading of the book) is up! Please–join in the fun! (unless you’ve got nothing better to offer than a critique of the characters’ uniforms and hairstyles…)

2. Darwyn Cooke explains, in his own words, why I hate his writing so much!

Most importantly, I suppose, was my personal attachment to Green Lantern and Hal, coupled with the Mercury and Apollo Space programs. These were the stuff of my childhood imagination. It is almost impossible to explain to someone what it was like to be a kid during that era unless you were there. Today we worship fey actors and millionaire children who throw or hit balls. But the Astronaut — good fuck, they strapped in on top of huge jerry-rigged tubes of unstable fuel and fired themselves toward the heavens!

Listen to any athlete today crying about his sore arm or the way the press treats him and then listen to the radio tapes from the Apollo 13 Astronauts as they try to find a way home before they run out of air or freeze to death. So Hal and the whole space program became a symbol of something that has vanished from our society. The man with the daring and the balls to put it on the line for the sake of it. For the thrill of it. Risk your life to feel an extra 100 mph of speed. Gamble everything to fly that much faster or go that much further. And these men… Jesus, they were like ice. Pilots heading straight into the runway at 500 mph — they’re 100 feet from exploding on the pavement and the tower asks, “Do you wish to declare an emergency?” Invariably, the pilot’s response is something like, “Negative. I think if I can just — ” and then you hear the explosion. And unbelievably, the very best of them did it for peanuts. Air Force pay and whatever perks that came with being a hotshot pilot. No million dollar paydays or private jets or summer homes in Monaco.

So the persona of Hal offered all the romance and mystique you need for a great hero. From a character point of view, Hal is a fairly regular Joe who doesn’t really fit in. He’s perfect in every way I suppose, except he has nothing to believe in that is any bigger than he is. And New Frontier is a story of his discovery of that higher power that he can put his faith in. Once Hal is able to graft his courage and values to a purpose, he becomes a complete person.

Uh…”fey actors”? Becoming “complete” through the discovery of one’s “relationship” to a higher power? Sick! And the idea that this kind of indoctrination is supposed to be “good for kids” is what makes it sickest of all!

Also (and this applies to a wide variety of people–but if you read that entire interview, you’ll understand why I’m mentioning it now), if you’re going to use the word “deconstruction”, try to develop  at least a minimal understanding of what the term really means, okay? It’s not a synonym for “debunking exercise”.

I had no problem with the idea of an altruistic hero when Rozakis and DeStefano did it properly in ‘Mazing Man (which I just re-read yesterday…what a beautiful series!)

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see–the great thing about ‘Maze is that he contributes to his society through sheer force of goodwill–but no one “looks up” to him (and he certainly doesn’t participate in the grotesquely masculine discourse of “heroism” that the Cooke interview exudes…) They just love having him around! (and so did I! Why not bring the whole gang back, hunh DC?)

3. Finally–I  was saddened to hear that Rosie–S.W. Welch‘s celebrated bibliofeline–died recently… Jack Ruttan has posted the story–along with a fine visual tribute to this wonderful beast… Bye Rosie!

Good Afternoon Friends!
Dave

I Don’t Usually Do Much of This Sort of Thing–but…

 I don’t generally go in for this sort of Thing–however…

when Grimace grows disproportionately long arms, loses his pupils, turns brown, and goes off his medshakes–I pay attention!

You bet yer ass he’s part of the show–from where I sit!

And if you must know–he’s from McDonaldland,  you crazy bastard. Satisfied? Now go find Ronald–quickly!

(We can thank Jack Kirby for this one–and the Silver Age Marvel Comics Cover Index)

okay–good night friends!
Dave

New RSS Feed!

 New RSS Feed!

Greetings!

This is just to let you know that I’ve switched RSS Feeds, now that the good folks at Mo’Time have come up with an in-house tool! The syndication links are down there to your left, just below the big Blogcritics button. It comes just in the nick of time, too–because I’ve noticed that my old RSS feed was sending out some pretty strangely garbled information… (I’ve also cut down on the number of posts that show on the front page–and installed a little page-turning device just above the links…hopefully, these changes will make it easier for people to load this often image-heavy site!)

Bon Weekend!
Dave

Cerebus Part V: Issue #13

Cerebus Part V: Issue #13
(see also: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV)



Only one issue this time, because I don’t want to break up the celebrated Palnu Trilogy, and there’s no possibility of doing ’em all tonight… but “Black Magiking” is a great story, and quite deserving of the spotlight–so it all works out, right?


Onward!


Sim left the experimental duo-tone/Gene Colan murk (which Dan Parmenter and I discussed, near the end of this TCJ Messageboard thread, earlier this week) of #12 in the dust and ascended toward a new level of crispness in style and process in this issue (in some ways it offers a foretaste of the art decoish deployment of blacks and whites that characterize what I recall of the mid-High Society issues). And what’s the story about? Why “Necross the hahahaha Mad” of course! (this guy, particularly in Cerebus’ initial encounter with him, makes me think of Lubitsch’s To Be Or Not To Be–“zo they call me ‘concentration camp Ehrhardt’, do they?”…uncomfortable laugh–laugh–cough… it fits too! Necross is a bit of a buffoon–and a charlatan–but he’s no loveable bumbler, a la Wizard of Oz…he’s actually dangerous…and so is Sig Ruman, no matter how ridiculous a figure he cuts in his Nazi uniform! The Lubitsch film is amazing that way–Jack Benny playing his silly-assed self, and yet still confronting legitimate horrors, head-on, while the war raged, in the newsreels that preceded the show? That is masterful cinema! And Carole Lombard is great in it too! Her last performance…)

Unnecessary digression there–sorry! Or perhaps not. There is certainly something to be said for thinking of this issue–and the evolving tone of the series as a whole–in conjunction with a work like TBONTB.  We’re really not in parody-land at all anymore… It’s hilarious, no question about that–but the scenes have a kind of menace that seems to coexist in impossible harmony with the word-play and the slapstick, and the protagonist faces  real dangers–not so much to his aardvarkian person, but to his mind, or, more precisely, to his attitude. Will he be able to maintain his equanimity–his ability to accept the world at face-value–without descending into paranoid skepticism, or developing delusions of grandeur, whilst cutting his way through a narrative that sets him up for exactly that kind of a fall…and that kind of a rise? We’ll see… but for now–only remember: Cerebus is goddamned funny-and the stakes are high!

This is the issue in which Sim’s lettering skills come to the fore. Take a look at these two pages–

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There’s just something so right about those alphabetical effects, don’t you think?

Naturally, this maniac chooses to confide in Cerebus, rather than incinerate him… (of course he plans to destroy the world–although he is honest enough to admit that he has no real understanding of how to go about doing this…) People just love talking to an aardvark–I can understand that… And so our protagonist becomes witness to the ultimate struggle between “Black Magik” and Inquisitorial “holiness”, in the person of an especially bloodthirsty priest of Tarim. Necross is ready to deflect any bolts from the blue that prayer might summon, but he isn’t prepared for the simple arrow that the exasperated Jesuit opts to fire instead–anticipating that “shoot the swordfighter” scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

After all of that build-up, it’s over in one panel…except of course that Necross manages to transmigrate into the body of Thrunk, a golem that looks a lot like Ben Grimm’s rocky persona, only several times larger. In this form, he proceeds to turn the tables upon the overconfident exorcist, who brandishes a mean-lookin’ ankh-type thing, and is promptly stomped to death, off-camera.. Meanwhile, Cerebus slips through the crossfire of these twin-anticlimaxes back out into the marshlands of Lower Felda… The last thing he hears is Necross/Thrunk–grown far too large to fit through any of the doorways of the fortress in which he was built/born–wailing for help, like some satanic Winnie the Pooh overfed upon sorcerous honey… and no earth-piglet to help him, either–because Cerebus doesn’t give a fuck!

 Next stop–Palnu!

Good Night Friends!
Dave

Beyond the Comic Blog-Ticker

Beyond the Comic Blog-Ticker

I can’t believe that I forgot to mention this yesterday!

John Commonplacebook–whom you may not be aware of, because he doesn’t ping Babar’s Magical Bloghist’ry Tour–has posted a very interesting critique of the recently-concluded Promethea… I haven’t read any of that series (although I do want to!), and I still loved the essay (and it ties in so nicely with Cerebus, in some ways)… Anyway, just in case you missed it– (he’s not primarily a comic-blogger, but when he does tackle the funny books, he always does a great job–which is not to say that the rest of his posts aren’t worth your time, because they’re all thoughtful and polemical in a fun way!)–Here’s the link.

Best line:
It was once said that Alan Moore knew the score, but sometime around his encounter with God, he clearly lost count.

Back to Cerebus in a few hours!

Good Afternoon Friends!
Dave

Use Only As Directed!

Use Only As Directed!

Sheer busy-ness (+ okay, I admit it, preparations for an internet Diplomacy game!) has been keeping me from making my appointed Cerebusian rounds (although there will be time for a post on “Black Magiking”–& maybe even the Palnu Trilogy–tomorrow!), but I didn’t want to let another day go by without sharing this with you, my friends (it’s from Incredible Hulk #135, dated January 1971–those halcyon days of Thomas n’ Trimpe! Just look at that first epistle! James C. Fish–if you’re still out there–it’s people like you that make this whole lettercol thing of mine worthwhile!):

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Also–if you’ve got nine bucks to spare, you really oughtta get out there and buy the newest issue of TCJ! They’re publishin’ Ian Brill now! ‘Nuff Said!

Good Night Friends!
Dave