Earlier this week I posted a photo of my “stack” the pile that every comic reader encounters at some point in there life. More likely at every step of it. The photo I posted wasn't even my complete “stack” I probably have a dozen other comics tucked away that I haven't read, and at least one book a week added. I ultimately failed to read the entirety of my stack. Leaving eight books unread. A failure that could only be compared to Henry Kissinger's retreat from Indochina. That may be a overstatement. I mean I did fail to read EIGHT books, but Kissinger caused the deaths of millions due to vanity. Ill call it a wash.
“and I got a girl named Cynthia to blow my brother. For a fix”
I had a nice chat with Alec Berry of Chemical Box fame and fortune (he also writes for Spandexless, his most recent post being a literary raping of some shitty Oni-Press book, I never heard of, nor cared to. I found it particularly funny since today, or yesterday since I'm writing this at 4am, was CREATOR OWNED DAY!!! a day I assume like FREE COMIC DAY is filled with a communal circle jerk over how hardcore everyone is....I for one am quite hardcore within the circle jerk community.) about the gaps in our reading. When I look at that pile I don't see 8 books I need to read, I see 8 books in a ocean of thousands I need to read.
“lets wash the taste of blood out of our...being”
Every time I look at my “stack” (for some reason “stack” sounds dirty to me...if you boil it down its just a pile of unabsorbed knowledge..but “stack” sounds like the noise an object makes when it enters a unwelcoming orifice. It seems like a chore instead of a pleasure.) I see all the books I haven't read, I'm five years into the game and I feel like I've barely read anything of note.
“lightning bolt, old lightning bold why don't you strike them down”
Whats shocking to me is that, when I think about the “Mainstream” I'm fairly certain I've covered it all. There may be a few runs I'm missing (the only ones I can think of are Ditko's Spider man and the various Kirby projects I've neglected to read) . But you never know whats around the corner. We may be a year away from a critical reevaluation of CREATOR X that I completely missed. Or some definitive run ive never heard of is getting reprinted for the first time.
“Rejoice, Rejoice, you'll never make it out alive!”
I don't see ever not having a "stack" because that would mean i was done. Their exists entire continents worth of material I haven't read or heard of. Every week hundreds of titles are released...at least 5-10 a year amount to something. That's not a bad average. Under the 90% of shit paradigm at least, which to me seems like a overestimation of the mediums collective quality.
This is my fourth of fifth time reading this book, and each time it takes me 20-30% longer to read. Frank Quitley's art is so subversively dense, his panels have so much "room" to breath you'd think they'd fall apart under closer examination. Instead they become denser. Issue #2 really stood out this time around. Issue #10 is still the "best" and the death of Pa Kent still heart breaking, but issue two is just an amazing "date" comic. Its also -oddly- the only issue which uses voice over.
Eddie Campbell describes his storytelling process as being organic, one panel leads to the next. This technique worked to great effect in his auto-bio comic Alec were the story could go on tangents or become muddled in the details, because that's how life works. If Alec was a cohesive narrative like so many other "auto-bio" comics it would loose its authenticity. That's one of the biggest failures of the auto-bio sub genre, to many of its major works have definitive endings. While that may work within story it doesn't work as a document life. That's why the last 30-40 pages of Paying for It feel so hollow, Brown needed to shoehorn something in to make the book finite. When Campbell approaches a finite narrative though this organic method becomes a detriment. His best (non-autobio) works (From Hell and The Playwright) have a very confining structure, limiting his tendency towards the organic. Monsieu Leotard and The Black Diamond Detective Agency works as a series of pastishes, but fails as a narrative. They are lovely to look at though.
Come in Alone:
This is the collected edition of Warren Ellis's CBR columns from early 2000. Its a interesting read because, along the same lines as the Joe Casey/Matt Fraction "Basement Tapes", there a call to arms for the comic industry. Ellis refers to this generation (I presume focusing on those writers which spawned forth from his forums) the next comics vanguard. He calls it the "Old Bastards Manifesto". Whats interesting though, is that while you can see him trying desperately over the next ten years to jump start the revolution, none of his disciples seem to follow through. Its a book which time has proven to have been a failure, but is fascinating in its passion to change everything.
Its reductive to call this books "cute" right? What took a while to get used to is Lenox's use of pastiche's, their may be five panels on each page, but they don't relate to each other in any way. There's no connective tissue between panels. Its a odd use of the page which i don't recall seeing before. I will have to concur with the introduction that each strip works better when you've read every one before it. They build on each other and reference previous events.
Citations / footnotes / random shit.
* If you have not picked up on this, the various quotes are meaningless, just lyrics i am grabbing from whatever is playing at the moment