I have to say that right now is a great time to be a comic book fan. We’re in the midst of a creative renaissance where writing and art are quickly coming into balance. Lemme explain… I became addicted to paper crack in high school. At that time, the early 90s, all that mattered was the art: Artists dominated the industry (and tended to have monster egos). I even harbored dreams of getting into the biz (which lead to a great story and the worst interview of my life… I’ll share that story some day).
By the time I got into college comics started to loose their appeal. There were three main reasons:
- Alan Moore’s Watchmen started the process of ruining comics for me. On first read the art, provided by Dave Gibbons, wasn’t up the to “level” that I was used to (in retrospect I think it’s one of the best illustrated books ever). But the story blew my mind. It deconstructed every storytelling device I was used to and steamrolled all the industry stereotypes I knew. Watchmen was the first legitimate piece of graphic literature I read. (side note: To this day think that it’s sustentative enough to use in a high school or college English class. If you don’t think comics can transcend into literature, this is a must read). This discovery led me to the realization that:
- The majority of comic books were soap operas for boys (and poorly written ones at that). After Watchmen I realized that 99% of the famous artists who were writing books couldn’t script their way out of a paper bag (most of the writers couldn’t either). Comics might have been beautiful on the surface but few had any substance. I also was starting to get a little skeezed out by the portrayal of women in the books. Finally,
- My habit was bankrupting me. I was a po college student and could no longer afford a $40 a month habit.
So I stopped collecting (except for the odd one here or there). During my “down time” the industry went through a revolution. The bottom dropped out of the collecting for profit side of the industry (the weirdoes who think they can make millions on a polybagged, variant cover, signed issue #1). And the writing was getting staler and staler (the same plots and gimmicks rehashed time and time again).
But change was starting too. DC (home of Batman, Superman and others) began publishing alternative titles like The Sandman that explored new storytelling territory. New publishing technologies (like the internet and affordable low run printing) have allowed smaller companies and individuals to publish outside of the major Labels (Marvel and DC). That in turn has caused the larger companies to embrace indy creators and in turn improve their material. Suddenly writing was as, if not more important than art. All of that has led to a real strain on my budget as books are now worth buying again. Which leads me to this weekend. I made my weekly crack run to the comic store around the corner from me and made a discovery:
I bought Blue Monday: The Lovecats by Chynna Clugston-Major (published by Oni Press) on a whim. Chynna’s work, with its smooth animé style, caught my eye when featured in a Mavel book a few months ago. That, plus a Cure inspired title, was enough to make flip through the book in the shop. By the third page I was sold! The series take place in a small town high school in what seems to be the late 80/early 90’s. Chynna, who also writes the book, really captures the high school experience: fluid visuals, the right mix of angst and excitement, great dialog and the integration of music of the time (the Cure, the Kinks, Social Distortion are amoung the bands whose music factors heavily into the story). Plus, nary a person in spandex to be seen.
I know most folks reading this blog are not into comics, but if you’ve ever wanted to see what the medium is capable when you don’t have heros/gods/metabeings beating the crap outta each other check out this book.
in other news
New MP3 to your left. Last week’s, A Letter Elise (Unplugged), is still available as a link.
I’m making another trek to the top of Kodak Tower today to work on Birdcam. Thankfully I don’t think I’ll have to go outside (as its cold and snowy). The work out inventorying kodak.com continues. Hopefully we’ll make the deadline.
Rehearsals went just about as well as I could expect last night. I’ll be leaving work early today to negotiate for the playing space. So by tonight we should have a theatre. Then the real work starts. T minus a months and a half.
Finally, I don’t know about you, but this kinda scares me. Every day I see more in more value is the teaching of philosophy and ethics in college. There really needs to be more open debate on things like artificial wombs.