We have two Rob Clough reviews for you this morning. First, he writes about a collection of Eric Orner’s Completely Unfabulous Life of Ethan Green:
Getting [this] published in one volume is an important step to building continuity in the history of gay comics. Once a widely-distributed strip in gay-oriented publications, the comic became popular and significant enough to inspire a film adaptation. As noted in the foreword, the strip ran from 1989 to 2005, produced more than 300 strips, and appeared in more than eighty publications at its height. This volume collects all of those strips and adds some new material as well, giving the hero of the strip something of a happy ending (or perhaps more accurately, a happy beginning).
Visually, the strip is highly uneven. Orner’s drawing style changes a couple of years in and becomes denser, filled with zip-a-tone effects, cross-hatching and a greater dependence on spotting blacks to add atmosphere. The most recent strips looked like they were drawn and colored on a computer, which was jarring to say the least. These strips didn’t look nearly as polished as the earlier strips, and the garishness of the color detracted from some of the content. The use of color also seemed arbitrary at times. It’s obvious that Ethan Green was Orner’s laboratory for becoming a cartoonist, and not every experiment was a success.
And then we have his take on Scott McCloud’s The Sculptor:
I have three fundamental difficulties with Scott McCloud’s years-in-the-making opus, The Sculptor. First, the way the female love interest is portrayed betrays a staggering lack of nuance regarding mental illness and borders on the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope that plagues a certain kind of romantic drama. Second, the pacing of the book is herky-jerky, with little in it justifying its extreme length. Indeed, the book is repetitive and often tedious in exploring its main characters. The final “action sequence” is laughably silly in light of the rest of the book. Third, the essentialist nature of McCloud’s stances on art that are on display in his famous Understanding Comics also hold sway here, a bias that I found tremendously tedious and distracting.
Let’s unpack these critiques in light of the story and McCloud’s long career. …
—Charlie Hebdo/PEN. This phase of 2015’s never-ending debate is probably winding down now, since the actual PEN gala in which CH was given its award has now taken place. (Boris Kachka reports from the scene here.) This has been exhausting for some on both sides of the argument (not to mention those somewhere in the middle), but these are issues that every cartoonist has to deal with at one level or another, so it’s important to think it through, and to keep engaging with alternate viewpoints. Some of the remaining stories and essays worth reading include this report of a panel in which two of CH’s editors participated, Christopher Beha at Harper’s, Keith Gessen at n+1, Arthur Goldhammer at Al Jazeera, and Laura Miller’s interview with table host Neil Gaiman. Michael Cavna at The Washington Post solicits opinions from comics-world figures ranging from Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly to Gene Luen Yang to Liza Donnelly.
—Commentary. Bully continues to look at cartoonists breaking the rules of narrative visual logic.