“We start our lives in chaos, in babble. As we surge up into the world, we try to devise a shape, a plan. There is dignity in this. Your whole life is a plot, a scheme, a diagram. It is a failed scheme but that’s not the point. To plot is to affirm life, to seek shape and control. Even after death, most particularly after death, the search continues. Burial rites are an attempt to complete the scheme, in ritual. Picture a state funeral, Jack. It is all precision, detail, order, design. The nation holds its breath. The efforts of a huge and powerful government are brought to bear on a ceremony that will shed the last trace of chaos. If all goes well, if they bring it off, some natural law of perfection is obeyed. The nation is delivered from anxiety, the deceased’s life is redeemed, life itself is strengthened, reaffirmed.”
“Are you sure?” I said.
“To plot, to take aim at something, to shape time and space. This is how we advance the art of human consciousness.” (Don DeLillo, from White Noise)
“What of the success of the Expulsion?” Carranque asked. The driver was momentarily silenced.
“Success for the Catholics?” I ventured.
“Certainly not, Señora.” Now it was Carranque who laughed. “The Expulsion of the Jews was an unmitigated disaster for the Catholics. For a brief time, Their Catholic Majesties feasted on the properties and treasures left behind by the running Jews. But after a very short while they awoke to the truth that their best and their brightest had fled. Gone were their merchants, their statesmen, their doctors, their artisans and their artists, their poets, their musicians, their singers, and their leatherworkers. Without its Jews, Spain dried up into the shriveled olive it is today.”
“So the success?”
“Was the success of the Jews — the Jews who fled to Morocco, to Italy, to Greece, to Turkey, to the Netherlands. They spread their art and learning across the Mediterranean, through the Strait of Gibraltar and northward into Europe. They made a virtue of exile, found their greatest reward in exile, found their humanity, their lost identity, in exile.” (Jonathan Levi, from A Guide For The Perplexed)
“It is only petty men who seem normal.” (Umberto Eco, from The Name of the Rose)
For them it might stave off what he could not help but see with clarity: that the world was silent and cold and bare and that in this lay its terrible beauty. (David Guterson, from Snow Falling on Cedars)
It is demonstrably plain that, were the whole matter of victualling the world on a non-national footing taken right out of the hands of the strutting male and handed over to a dozen sensible women who do not want to have their children killed, politics, which are nothing but a glorified form of housekeeping, would long since have been deflated to the problem of running a canteen. (William Gerhardie, from God’s Fifth Column)
“Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules absurd, their perspectives deceitful, and everything conceals something else.” (Italo Calvino, from Invisible Cities)
Every day this month, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. This month I will be doing theme weeks, with each week devoted to a single artist. First up: Bill Sienkiewicz! Today’s page is from The Shadow #6, which was published by DC and is cover dated January 1988. Enjoy!
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It turns out that Oxfam is a very good comic shop. This statement won’t be as surprising to American comic book readers as it was to me, but imagine that I just said “Goodwill is a very good comic shop” because that’s basically what it is, the English version of Goodwill. Continue Reading »
WHITHER THE COMICS CODE? So DC and Archie, the last bastions of the Comics Code Authority, have dropped the seal’s use entirely. Which begs the question, hopefully for an actual comics journalist to answer: Who was the Comics Code Authority? Where was this self-governing body headquartered, who was on it, and what will they do now? As something that’s existed for something like 60 years, you’d think we’d know more about it. Sure, we know what created it, but how has it been maintained these many years? What caused its complete loss of power (the direct market, I presume)? How will it be remembered?
In the next few days it will not only be Thanksgiving but also my birthday, so I’ve decided to create my own unconventional creator/superhero wishlist. On previous Thanksgivings I have asked diverse comic book creators about what they’re thankful for and discussed my own gratitude for comics, but this year I’m taking a different direction and writing about what I’d like to see.
Continuing the epic forage through my childhood comic book collection, moving into the realm of comix. Once I’d browsed and reminisced through my superhero comics to my hearts content, I moved on to the darker, more mysterious contents of the remaining boxes. Continue Reading »