Monday, March 13, 2006


Thinking about the reading experience.

It took me as long to read the first ten pages of Beto's The Book of Offelia as it does most comics twice as long. It's just a full experience. Silent moments are earned through a richness of character and a beauty of line. Dialogue is rich. I've spent a lot of time with these characters in the past, but Beto manages to convey a sense that these characters have lived a life outside of this book without making the reader feel like they've missed something important to this particular story. This isn't the page-of-comics squeezed into a single panel Beto that he did after Poison River (it's not even as dense—yet—as PR). Just look at the last few major chapters in Palomar for what I'm talking about. I actually think that stuff went a little too far, and lost some of the mind-blowing awesomeness of PR. But it was still great.

So, I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I've been thinking about decompression, compression, density and superdensity. I've been thinking about the formal aspects that separate comics from movies. Or texts. Or whatever. I've been thinking about hiphop and what that should have meant to comics for the past thirty years. I've been thinking about Watchmen and Acme Novelty Library as hiphop comics. I've been thinking about the formal experimentation of the late eighties/early nineties. I've been thinking about Die Brucker and Contructivist and Communist poster design.

I've been thinking about the ability to add layers of action and meaning in a visual sense, the way a writer uses metaphor and allusion. Or a producer uses samples. Or the way call-and-response changes the meaning of a phrase. Backgrounds as B-Story. Captions as countertext. The visual appearance of words as metaphor. I've been thinking about the restrictions of poetic rhythm. Conversations in haiku or cinquain. Speaches in iambic pentameter. I've been thinking about speculative biography. Inserting yourself into the future.

I've been thinking of politics and a final, desparate, blazing exeunt of progressive thought. Of the even darker ages to come and the end of humanity. The evolutionary failure of science and the darwinesque success of superstition. The end of art and the rise of consumerism. The last party thrown before the stormtroopers raid the caberet.

I've been thinking about Kaiju Jugoruma.


Blogger Marcos Perez said...

hip hop and comics! alwayas an intereseting subject. i find art and hip hop to have similar processes. create in an explosion of love and thought. then spend months tightening and tightening. though density is a different experience in music, as it all can exist at the same time. density doesnt refer to the length of the experience as much as how much stuff you can layer in.
make comics where everything exists at the same time! all vellum comics! then peel it apart like onions.

thinking about characters, the conceit i took with TM was that you never knew everything about the characters. i wanted them to be like people you met. in some cases you may know alittle about them beforehand, things you've heard from others, in other cases it's a perfect stranger. and over time you learn more about there past and there experiences and what makes them unique.
in the end tm is about the characters. id rathere have the plot go towards the illogical then the characterizations. aftere watching buffy the strenght of the show is the characters, the acting, the bond, that held them through the good and the bad episodes. And allowed the viewer to accept the most illogical story points.

i agree tv narrative is more interessting now. of course movie nararative could be, but Tv seems to be a place where the networks are more willing to experiment,( lost and 24!). seems like the movie system still suffers from too many hands in the pot.
one of my favorite jokes from the oscars, was jon stewart calling "walk the line" "'Ray' for white people". stuff just gets churned out similar to other stuff. and the smaller more independently minded works wont get recgonized.

comics can do whatever they want! in the internet day and age, it can be the most exciting visual medium, unencumbered by manny rewrites. and it isnt just a narrative medium so it can cross fine art, poetic, boundaries.

but im babbling.
and congratulations on the crystal -meth sex.

12:02 PM  
Blogger Justin J. Fox said...


All-vellum comics sounds so good. And scary. Like the human body in the encyclopedia.

Those two movies suffered from two many hands or not enough. I like Jarmusch, but he's trying to make the same movie again. Ten, twenty years ago, this stuff really stood out, but now all indie movies have a similar feel. He does it better than most, but I need something to stand out from the pack.

I hope Ray was better than Walk the Line. I'll just assume it was. Of course, in a way, Cash was just Charles for hicks.

I think TSM does good jorb with that. Having the characters exist outside of the pages. Character-driven stuff is often going to be stronger than plot-drivens. Like Veronica Mars. The best stuff is the characters, the weakest is the plot contrivances. Beto is just the ultimate master. He and Ware might be the two greatest cartoonists ever. I almost stayed up reading that book, but decided to rest my bruised genitalia.

1:04 PM  
Blogger Marcos Perez said...

cant beat beto.

and hopefully acme novelty #16 will be the beginning of wares best.

i call you cutoff chaffs in shorts

1:13 PM  
Blogger Justin J. Fox said...

I look like I'm wearing a purple codpiece.

2:46 PM  

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