The Net is Vast
Last Friday was thesis mid review. Bad news: I sorta bombed my presentation. I was tired and incoherent. Good news: My graphics were good enough that everyone understood the project and I got great feedback. I tried to resolve the building a little too quickly and produced some ugliness but now I know how to go forward. (More on that later.) Afterwards I rewarded myself with a graphic novel binge on Friday and Saturday. I “randomly” grabbed a bunch of these from the library (a technique a friend of mine has practiced) and then dug in. I’d like to comment a little on each.
100% Paul Pope.
I don’t understand. I had heard such great things about Paul Pope and I was really looking forward to seeing his take on the Batman stories. The drawing is beautiful but the story is so crushingly bad I felt uncomfortable reading it.
Summer Blonde Adrian Tomine
Boy, this was lovely and depressing. I liked this one a lot. The drawing style is pared back but Tomine reads like graphic novels’ version of Todd Solondz. A whole lotta angst and depression served up without resolution. Double woot!
Akira Vol I, Katsuhiro Otomo
I can’t believe I haven’t read this. I watched the movie, sure, but so did every male “indoor” kid. This is a sci-fi masterpiece. The book has some images in which the synchronicity of a post 9/11 America and the post nuclear/apocalyptic Japan are captured perfectly. Really, it’s all I could think about. A cultural obsession that scales both physical damage and puerile emotions to the urban scale in exactly the same way.
Ghost in the Shell, Shiro Masamune
T and I watched the series (available in installments on adultswim) and the movies. But this is another one that I’ve actually never read. I’ve commented before on how the main character in the series is amazing. But really this is more that just waist to hip ratio. I swear. The “Major” is one of the most compelling female characters I’ve ever come across. I’m not sure why although the novel makes it abundantly (abundant in the most graphic terms) that the main character is certainly bisexual and certainly mostly robot. It’s constructed as a series of loose cases which eventually start to have a common thread. The stories are paced very quickly and the novel was over much too soon. I wish there were more!
Akira and GitS were the two Japanese novels I picked up. They were both written almost 20 years ago. (Akira in 1988 and GitS in 1991) They both are very cliched, I think because their forms and themes were so widely copied. The look of GitS of dirty, intricate, technology is so familiar I almost don’t realize how hard it is to draw. For a while I was obsessed the intro to the movie Ghost in the Shell II. If you haven’t seen it, it features robotically enhanced Hans Bellmer dolls floating while traditional Japanese acapella plays in the background. Powerful shit, indeed. I recommend it.
And last but not least:
The Acme Novelty Library, Chris Ware
This one I wished I had read before my thesis. Ware isn’t a spectacular artist or inker. What he does better than anyone else is layout a page and scale text in a restrained, yet ornamental style. He’s so good that even though the subject matter of the comic itself often deals with death, loneliness and boredom, I find myself pleased at the end of each one. I wish I could steal these layouts for my boards.
So that’s it for now…. I’ll come back and edit this post. I want to redo my thesis statement. Again!