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It’s a new week. Ken Parille leads us in with an essay on one of my favorite comic book artists: Pete Morisi.

Although many artists struggle with the comic page’s limitations as a static, silent surface, Morisi harmonizes with newsprint’s inert pulp essence. His peculiar genius lies in the way he seems to disrupt our desire to glide across a page. While it’s hard to talk about the specific effect that images have on us, many of his panels feel calming, almost a little hypnotic and “sculptural” to me, working against the animation that Seth rightly sees an important feature of narrative comics.

In fact, Morisi’s characters often resemble a drawing of a sculpture of a person, rather than a “direct” representation; and many of his horror comics feature sculptures in the panels’ backgrounds and margins.

Elsewhere in the world:

Tom Spurgeon interviews Noah Van Sciver.

The ebook comics company Graphicly has been folded into the print-on-demand service Blurb, leaving some questions.

Will Eisner’s M-16 manual.

David Carr at the NY Times on the ongoing Hachette/Amazon stand-off.

Not-comics: Critic and poet Rene Ricard’s memorial gathering.


10 Responses to Ignore

  1. patrick ford says:

    People interested in Pete Morisi might want to seek out the long interview with him in COMIC BOOK ARTIST #9.

  2. Ramon De Los Flores says:

    Morisi was awesome. His characters’ “acting” is more interesting to me at this point than someone like Toth’s; to continue the movie analogy, I’d say Toth’s closer to Sam Fuller while Morisi is almost Bressonian or like Budd Boetticher.

  3. Ramon De Los Flores says:

    Also, I was paging through some scans of Golden Age comics a couple days ago – cannot remember the title or issue, unfortunately, but I think it was a crime oriented title – and one of the letter cols had a letter from a (presumably young) Morisi, who mentioned his favorite feature and artist.

  4. Mike Hunter says:

    Ken Parille’s writeup on Morisi is an outstanding example of what criticism at its finest can accomplish; illuminating fascinating aspects and qualities of an artist who, while I ran across his work regularly, never seemed much more than an able craftsman at the time.

    Parille perceptively elucidates both technical and subtler emotional aspects of Morisi’s art. Many of those panels, set off within the essay, can’t help but remind of Lichtenstein in a more subdued mood.

    I’d wondered if he had started out as an illustrator, which might have been responsible for his “less than kinetic” approach. Researching, ran across this odd bit of info:

    —————–
    Pete Morisi was a New York policeman from 1956 until 1975. During this time he moonlighted as a comic book artist working for various companies including Timely, Quality, Fiction House and Charlton…
    ——————-
    http://comicbookdb.com/creator.php?ID=5026

    Some more:

    http://petermorisi.inourheartsforever.com/legacy.html

    http://issuu.com/twomorrows/docs/cba9preview/11

  5. KirbyVersusLeeFan46 says:

    I was looking through the refridgerator, I can’t remember which day, Sunday, maybe Monday, and I saw those leftovers from the Chinese place and the fortune cookie inside told me who Pete Morisi’s favorite artist was – but I threw it out and forgot to write it down…

  6. patrick ford says:

    On reason for the period of time where Morisi’s art looks posed or sculptural is he began using a lot of photo-reference. He talks about that quite a bit in the CBA intewrview.

  7. Oliver_C says:

    Interesting to see Morisi’s use of blue facial shading (presumably specified in notes to the colorist) pre-dating Keith Giffen’s early-80s style on ‘Legion of Superheroes’ — which aroused some ire in its day, with one fan letter complaining that, “People don’t have one side of their face blue, even when they’re holding their breath!”

  8. KenP says:

    Mike: “Ken Parille’s writeup on Morisi is an outstanding example of what criticism at its finest can accomplish; illuminating fascinating aspects and qualities of an artist who, while I ran across his work regularly, never seemed much more than an able craftsman at the time. “

    Mike,

    Thanks for the high praise! Your response – that you looked at the work differently after reading the piece – is the kind I hope for.

    Pat: “On reason for the period of time where Morisi’s art looks posed or sculptural is he began using a lot of photo-reference.”

    Pat,

    That’s definitely true. And I think it works in conjunction with things like the lack of motion/ emotion lines to get that effect. I could have talked more about bodily poses, which, as the illustrations indicate, are pretty odd as well. And that fact that his people are sometimes posed next to sculptures also makes it weird. His characters’ hands are amazing – up there with Ditko’s, and at times similar to his. Even when Morisi’s characters are not magicians, they often look like they are conjuring something.

  9. patrick ford says:

    Just to be clear I fully enjoy cartoonists who make heavy use of photo-reference. Comics has a pretty long history of this going back to creators like Alex Raymond. There is an even longer history among painters and illustrators.
    http://image1.findagrave.com/photos/2009/362/41618585_126214279843.jpg

  10. Mike Hunter says:

    …I meant to comment on those “Ditko hands” of Morisi’s!

    Re “many of his horror comics feature sculptures in the panels’ backgrounds and margins,” I was reminded of other artists who do likewise: Frazetta, Steranko, and Neal Adams. Yet in their cases, the figures routinely exalt the primal: muscular warriors, buxom beauties, wild animals, often in conflict. Mike Mignola uses sculptures, medieval to fearsomely exotic, to enhance the mood of his comics.

    While Morisi — at least in the samples chosen — favors work which is more sedate, though that Hindu sculpture in the “OOMAIPAIDUM!” panel seems unsettlingly about to step from its doorway-like niche.

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