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Bratatatatat!

Today marks the return of Sean T. Collins with a review of Julia Gfrörer’s popular webcomic, Black Is the Color. Here’s Sean:

As befits a comic that mostly takes place in a rowboat going nowhere in the middle of the ocean, Black Is the Color frequently collapses time and space into one another. Often its two-panel rows, or indeed entire pages, will depict a contiguous space split between the panels, the passage of time conveyed by the movement of your eye from one panel to the next within that space. Clouds drift and morph; a lonely cabin looks out over the sea; a storm descends over multiple pages, dwarfing a lone doomed ship; merfolk make idle chatter while watching men burn and drown; a mermaid descends through fronds of seaweed after leaving her dying lover to the daylight.

Elsewhere:

—The same Sean, inspired by the recent Diary of a Teenage Girl film teaser, resurrects his 2003 interview with Phoebe Gloeckner. Among her other accomplishments, you can definitely list memorable conversationalist.

—Grant Morrison always gives good interviews, too, though I have to say that the example he uses here to argue for how comics alone can accomplish things impossible in other media (having Superman break the fourth wall to talk to the reader about the devil) is rather depressingly unambitious — not to mention not hard at all to imagine being done in other media.

—Chris Randle’s interview with Geneviève Castrée at Hazlitt about her debut graphic novel ends our comics discussion trio nicely.

—Paul Gravett writes a long essay on Roy Lichtenstein, his recent show at the Tate, and his legacy as it relates to comics. (Dave Gibbons makes a guest appearance.)

—Michael DeForge’s Lose #4 is reviewed by Ale Hern at The New Statesman.

—I don’t know Dorothy’s last name, but I really enjoy her series of super-short Nancy appreciations at Comics Workbook, and am glad she put up a new one this week.

—Via reader e-mail comes this article I missed on Josefina Larragoiti’s Editorial Resistencia, a publisher trying to establish a market for serious comics in Mexico.

—Has any other publication boasted a dream team of cartoonists to beat the old Chicago Tribune? Not many… (via)


13 Responses to Bratatatatat!

  1. Just to earn my Friends Of Old Morrison card for the day:

    There’s a bit in [Action Comics #18] when Superman comes to the audience and says: “If we do the impossible, the devil disappears.” And you go: What? How? Why? I put it in there because nowhere else — you couldn’t get away with it in TV, you couldn’t get away with it in movies. I wanted to show that comics can actually do the impossible.

    I read this more as Morrison saying it was the sentiment you couldn’t get away with in other media, not the fourth-wall breaking. Or at least the sentiment in tandem with the fourth-wall breaking. And whatever my problems with this Action run I’m inclined to agree with him there. As I’ve written at tedious length, geek culture has precious little tolerance for levitate-the-Pentagon shit anymore — cf. the finales of Lost and Battlestar Galactica, etc.

    • Tim Hodler says:

      Thanks for the clarification, Sean. I haven’t read the issue in question, so I am probably misunderstanding something. Still, so far, I’m not buying the argument. I mean Peter Pan, with its famous clap-your-hands appeal to the audience, is more than a century old now, and pulled off the trick on stage, screen, and page. And if Morrison’s just saying that there’s no room for optimistic fantasy in other media right at this moment, I’d say only willful blindness could keep you from seeing it nearly everywhere (obvious exceptions aside). I mean, geez, wasn’t the Avengers movie the biggest moneymaker of the year?

      That being said, I’m not hostile to Morrison’s writing overall, just the idea that this is something revolutionary or medium-specific. But I should probably shut up until I’ve read the story, just in case I’m making a fool of myself.

      • You probably need to be as immersed in this shit as I am to detect the distinctions I’m trying to make regarding the kinds of optimism offered by mass geek entertainments, and god bless you for not being, but I wouldn’t say The Avengers is what he’s looking for. The movie Marvel Universe is a pretty rigorously sci-fi thing, because to contemporary geeks, SF is SERIOUS BUSINESS. Magic fueled by the power of positive thinking wouldn’t fly.

        (Not that I’d hold up Action 18 as something as an example of comics’ singular power or anything, mind you.)

      • Tim Hodler says:

        Ha! Okay. Well, wait until your daughter’s a few years older and discovers My Little Pony and we’ll talk again.

      • patrick ford says:

        Maybe what Sean is talking about is the really absurd modern notion that super heroes have to be “believable” in order to be taken seriously.
        One example I’ve been exposed to is super hero fans being really disturbed by Galactus having a big “G” on his armor. Their thought is he’s not from Earth and so he wouldn’t have a “G” on his armor. If you point out the story has a guy in it that can stretch and another guy who is on fire they will say they can accept all that, but the “G” is just too much. It upsets their “suspension of belief.”
        What that means is when they read a super hero story they need to be able to think it could really be happening (why? who knows?). The favorite word of these people is verisimilitude, because it sounds serious.
        The guy who ran the comic book shop where I used to order comics once told me he didn’t like The Spirit because the thought Will Eisner was “Making fun of the Shadow.”
        C.C. Beck had this all figured out back in 1974:
        http://d1g4sq00ps2bp3.cloudfront.net/fanzines/insidecomics_4.jpg

      • Lightning Lord says:

        Verisimilitude is important to the wrong sections of the tabletop gaming world – they love the idea that the rules aren’t abstractions and part of a game, but rather the actual physics of the fictional universe. It’s pretty insufferable.

    • Strangefate says:

      But isn’t Doctor Who really big right now on TV and that’s positively drenched in squishy positivity, raw appeal to emotion, magical silliness, a total lack of concern for any kind of realism in the presentation of its sci-fi/fantasy elements, and full of knowing winks to the audience? It’s certainly not treated as ‘serious bidness’. Magic fueled by positive thinking is frankly right up modern Doctor Who’s alley IMO.

      Really, I think that mentality plagues comics more than other mediums, not less. Morrison is relentless in his boosterism for comics, which is fine, but I agree that this comment doesn’t fly for me. If anything, comics, particularly the mainstream kind, seem more restrained in what they can do than a lot of other mediums, especially prose and film.

  2. Nicholas Woodhead says:

    According to this earlier Nancy-based post at Comics Workshop, Dorothy’s full name is Dorothy Berry.

    She also has her own tumblr.

  3. ryanholmberg says:

    Thanks for this Gravett article link. I think it’s one of the better articles on the subject. One thing I find perplexing, however, is the fact that the head-to-head debate (Gibbons vs. Cooke) is conducted largely on formalist terms (which looks better), whereas the art historical literature on Lichtenstein at this point (Hal Foster, Michael Lobel, Graham Bader) deals with a far wider set of issues. Cooke does not represent the best of Lichtenstein’s defense.

  4. Eric Reynolds says:

    Morrison is baffling to me, but Tim, I’m up for a My Little Pony conversation any time.

    • Tim Hodler says:

      My daughter’s favorite is Rainbow Dash, which has led to lots of “very fast” running from one end of the house to the other while my wife and I pretend to be amazed.

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