Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
Like many people who spend too much time online (don’t we all?), you might be suffering from some sort of indignant-outcry-overload as people tie themselves in knots over the latest scandal. Instead I thought that I’d offer a bit of light relief by sharing some of nice things happening in the world of comic books and sequential art. Enjoy!
Here is a nice thing happening in a children’s hospital:
Quentin Blake has contributed some beautiful paintings to an “end-of-life care room” at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital. His watercolors will be an important addition to this room which will be for parents to stay in when their terminally ill children are being treated in the hospital. Continue Reading »
Comic books aren’t the only publications who dabble in variant covers. Novels often find an entirely new audience by repackaging and reformatting the covers and sometimes even the content (e.g. the Harry Potter books are a good example of this, by creating fun covers with large type which appealed to children, and more elegant covers and smaller type for a more mature audience). A few weeks ago I stumbled on an instance of prose fiction dipping a proverbial toe into the world of sequential art and the results are pretty spectacular. Continue Reading »
Regular readers might have noticed I haven’t written a column in a few weeks. I’ve had issues with a long term illness which is causing me more pain than usual and while I am trying a new treatment, it hasn’t yet begun to help. This means that I’m probably not going to be able to return to writing a weekly column right away, an annoying hindrance but for now I’ll try to write as often as possible.
The frustrating part of being unable to write every week is that I’ve had lots of things I wanted to tell you about and I’ve probably forgotten half of them by now… Pain makes me a bit slower to communicate, and I’m having to focus all the energy that I do have on visual design work (which is oddly easier for me than writing, more of a distraction from pain for some reason). Here’s a little rundown and some peeks of the comic book design work that I’ve been able to work on during this unplanned writing sabbatical. Continue Reading »
As I initially began casually flipping through Killian Eng’s Object 5, I felt logic and rational comprehension slipping away from me, forcing me to slow down and take in the visual poetry presented. Reminiscent of the psychedelic works of Peter Max or Milton Glazer, there is also a hint of Moebius and even of Katsuhiro Otomo in Eng’s art. Eng’s line is always organic, contrasting perfectly with the tsunami of a color palette, weaving naturally through every style he utilizes, from the distinctly cold vastness of space to the eclectic chaos of natural and cityscapes. Playing with scale and perception, there is a distinctly otherworldly feeling to the art and despite the supposed lack of a unifying story, it is impossible not to feel as if Eng is taking us on a coherent journey through new worlds and realities that we simply cannot understand… yet. The apparent chaos invites further study, pushing to perceive things differently and comprehend the mysteries depicted. Continue Reading »
As ridiculous as it is to compare superhero comic books to the real world, there is one area in which I can’t help but do so, and that is in the ways in which nudity is treated. Within the logic of superhero universes, the implications of and reactions to nudity are radically different to our own. It is generally acknowledged that revealing clothing and near-nudity is one of the ways in which women can be objectified, i.e. turned into objects of desire instead of complex, human adults. However, in writing about the nudity of some of my favorite superheroes, I began to see another way which nudity can be used; as a signifier of power and outsider status. Continue Reading »
Fatherland: A Family History is a gorgeously drawn, black and white, biographical comic book (or graphic novel, whatever you prefer) by Nina Bunjevac. Ever since I first saw it I have been very excited to share it with you. The quality and quiet intensity of this book makes it a must-read for anyone interested in the ways the medium can subtly convey a depth of emotion without excess dialogue or narration. It is a harmonious, elegantly solid portrayal of a jumbled collection of terrible events, and for me it was a great step forward in my own expectations of what it is possible for a comic book to convey.
In lieu of my column I thought I’d share some comic book-related links which have made me happy this week. As insane as it must seem to not take a break from producing my column over Christmas and New Year, it was easier to write over the holidays because all my design clients took time off… But today they’re back in force, everyone wants to start 2015 with a new logo, letterhead, leaflet, or website. There is a light at the end of the tunnel though, but for this week I hope you enjoy links.
Every year Comicbook Resources compiles a list of the top 100 books of the year as voted on by their writers. You’ll get to read some of my reviews (if they’re voted on by enough other writers) as the list is published over the next few days, but meanwhile here is my own complete list of my favorite books I read over the last year.
(Note: Observant readers will notice that I voted for two different books for #6. This is a mistake I made and I suppose I’m keeping it because they’re both marvelous books and I refuse to choose between them or let anything go from my list. We’ll just have to accept that my list goes to eleven this year.) Continue Reading »
It’s Christmas Eve and if you’re reading this, then you’re looking for a distraction and you’ve found it! Print out and make these superhero-themed snowflakes, they will keep your loved ones busy for at least an hour. Just like last year, each one is based on a different hero, this time we’ve got; Captain Marvel, The Flash, Spider-Man, Phoenix, and Wolverine.
Without even meaning to, I’ve noticed a pattern lately of enjoying my friend’s “late” adoption of comic books, science fiction, and other so-called geeky things I thought were just mine. It’s surprisingly rewarding to vicariously experience the things I love through people who are new to them. New readers’ excitement about the books I have forgotten how to be surprised by, has become a wonderful way to stop taking them for granted. There are so many amazing things to enjoy that I can get jaded and forget how incredible they seemed when they were new to me. That’s why I love newcomers and even though I understand the instinct that makes some feel wary of them, it only takes letting them in a very tiny bit to feel how much their enthusiasm brings to the genre we love. Continue Reading »
“You’re not a serious comic book reader.”
“You have too many interests to be a real comic book geek.”
“You have an outsider perspective on comic books.”
“You only think you like comic books.”
“You’re too outgoing to be a comic book nerd.”
“You read too many different types of comic books to be a real comic book fan.”
These are things friends have said to me, none of them meant as insults, simply letting me know that in their eyes, I don’t quite belong in their club. From their perspective I am not obsessed enough to fit in. Over six years ago I published my first column about comic books, writing about what had been a childhood secret obsession for me. At the time a friend suggested that I name my column “secret obsession”, but I knew that “obsession” wasn’t quite the right word to describe my approach about comic books, at least not the way it gets used now.
There are comic books I read for entertainment and comic books I read to expand my mind. Sometimes the two intersect, and once in a while there are books which appeal to such a large demographic that they change the way the world works. At a time when many in the press seek to highlight the negative and destructive elements within out comic book community, I find myself surrounded by impassioned constructive people and I can’t help but think that this has everything to do with our shared interests and passions.
Recently I had to take a look at The Dark Knight Strikes Again and it surprised me. It looked pretty good, had some funny, energetic treatments of old characters and an engaging story arc. I particularly enjoyed the variety of techniques used in the coloring, which heavily supplemented the mood and dynamism of the book.
While I was at APE I missed the opening of a very interesting exhibition of art from indie comic book Henry and Glenn Forever and Ever at Los Angeles pop surrealism art gallery La Luz de Jesus. However, on Sunday I was able to attend the closing of the exhibition to take photos and speak to creator Tom Neely about the art, the book, and his work. (Please click on the photographs to see larger versions.)
Sonia Harris: When did you first create Henry and Glenn Forever and Ever? What inspired you?
Tom Neely: Henry & Glenn originally fell out of Gin Stevens beer bottle at a meeting of my art fraternity Igloo Tornado one night while we were having drinks and doodling on napkins at the Bigfoot Lodge. Somewhere around 2005, I think. It was just a silly idea that we started doodling together and we eventually made a little xeroxed zine of it – like 150 copies or so – and it just took off from there. Pretty soon we got an offer to turn it into a book from Microcosm and since the release of that version of Henry & Glenn Forever it has spread like a cult hit throughout the punk/metal/zine world. Continue Reading »
Your interpretation of Batman isn’t the same as mine, and neither is your idea of the Flash, Green Arrow, or John Constantine. We all read different comic books, and from those we each build our own impression of our favorite comic book characters. I’m very fond of the collage of impressions of these characters which has combined in my experience to build a complete portrait of each of them. Yet I am still expected to enjoy and become invested in the way these characters are being depicted on television and in movies.
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