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Almanac

Today on the site, Brian Nicholson returns with a review of Daria Tessler's Cult of the Ibis.

There are different kinds of silence. There is peaceful quiet and there’s eerie stillness, and while the former is conducive to reading, the latter could mean listening too intently for what might soon intrude to pay attention to what’s before one’s eyes. A comic generally gets called “silent” when reading it entails following images alone, without any dialogue or narration providing guideposts of written language. While there are extended passages of The Cult of the Ibis where the story is told purely visually, there’s enough words in it that anyone translating it into another language would still have their work cut out for them. I see a different silence in it. It’s a signifier, referring to the earliest years of cinema, similar to the films of Guy Maddin that approximate a fever dream of forgotten history more than they attempt recreation or adaptation.

The plot contains a mixture of genres at home in early film: After a bank robbery goes wrong, the getaway driver is in possession of the stolen loot. Other criminals want this money back. However, before considering this possibility, the getaway driver, interested in the occult, sends away for a build-your-own-homunculus kit, after seeing an ad in a magazine The Modern Alchemist Monthly. In silent or early sound films, both crime stories and occult skulduggery would be a a likely premise for a fable of moral reckoning, but that’s not what happens here. Daria Tessler understands that the reason movies were made about these subjects as soon as movies existed is because magic and bank robbery are cool and interesting to think about, and there is no better way to meditate on a concept than the time-consuming process of making narrative images about it.

Meanwhile, elsewhere:

—News. The cartoonist Musa Kart has once again been unjustly imprisoned by the Turkish government.

Word came though of an imminent order for arrest and so Musa and his colleagues have elected to surrender at a time and place of their own choosing, a typically dignified gesture. Before entering Kandıra he said:

“I believe people will see the injustice that is being done here. Several brave reporters have recently summarized what’s happening in Turkey: people who punch the leader of a major political party are permitted to go free while those who draw cartoons or report the news are put in prison. We look forward to the day when journalists need not make proclamations such as these in front of prison gates.”

As Tucker alluded to yesterday, the nominees for the 2019 Eisner Awards have been announced. Weird year!

D.D. Degg at the Daily Cartoonist covers the recent controversy over a cartoon published in the New York Times International Edition that struck many as anti-Semitic, as well as links to various commentators. Followup here.

The Guardian has an article about how the recent success of superhero movies hasn't translated into success for comic-book stores.

Dozens of closures have been reported across the UK and US over the last few months – including, in January, the end of St Mark’s Comics, once one of New York’s most venerable institutions. (It even appeared in Sex and the City.) Last year, comics website Bleeding Cool documented how 50 comic shops had closed in the previous year, in both the US and UK. And since June 2018, at least 21 shops in the US and 11 in the UK – including shops in Nottingham, Ramsgate and Tooting – have closed, with others likely going unreported.

While superheroes have never had a higher profile, the gap between cinema and comics has never been wider. The days when you could pick the latest issue of Spider-Man or Batman from the newsagent’s shelves are long gone. Last week, comic writer Ron Marz tweeted that, during a presentation to a school class, one girl raised her hand and asked him where she could actually buy comics.

—Reviews & Commentary. Mohini Gupta writes about the challenges of translating Asterix into Hindi.

“The first and immediate constraint,” [Puneet] Gupta said, “was fitting the Hindi translation into each speech bubble, despite Hindi being syntactically different from French, and also because of the maatras on the top, bottom and the side (in French, the accents are only on the top and bottom). Before translating the nuances into Hindi, we had to go into the etymology of the words, the idioms, the phraseology of the region in which the Asterix and Obelix find themselves.”

“As we went along”, explained [Dipa] Chaudhuri, “it became clear that we were translating not only from French to Hindi, but depending on the provenance of the protagonist, we were translating from Latin, and on occasion, German too...Negotiating between different registers of each language to establish the social hierarchy that binds the characters, was part of the task at hand.”

—Crowdfunding. Paul Karasik has launched a Patreon.

Matthew Thurber is raising money to make a film.

—RIP. John Singleton


One Response to Almanac

  1. RM Rhodes says:

    That anecdote from Ron Marz highlights one of the weirdest things about local comic shops – how many of them actually have marketing budgets? I’m betting that the number is not very high because they figure that they’re buying into a pre-existing customer base. Something something small business best practices.

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