Today at TCJ, we've got the latest installment in Ken Parille's Grid column. The subject at hand is the 20th anniversary of Ghost World, one of the seminal American graphic novels of the 90's, with a specific focus on the comic's use of dialog.
Like Maus, Ghost World was a revelation in part because its characters spoke like actual humans rather than the cardboard types that had long populated comic books. “For once in a comic,” the Post said of the graphic novel, “people are portrayed as they really talk and act.” Ghost World’s naturalistic, unfiltered dialogue was especially unusual for female characters, not only those in comics, but in film, television, and novels. Two decades later, readers are still drawn to the characters’ astute, acidic, and ever-relevant profanity-laced observations about the media, advertising, neo-Nazis, “pseudo-bohemian art-school losers,” and all forms of faddishness.
Then we've got a look at John Arcudi's Rumble #1, relaunched last week with new artist David Rubin. Geoff Lapid provides the requisite hot takes:
The story starts at the beginning, or at least somewhere near it, in a cave with an old man and his boy, sitting by a fire and paintings on the wall that tell the story of when the world was overrun with savage monsters. The old man explains that Rathraq was sent by the gods to end the violence with more violence, thus clearing a path for the early humans like them. We're treated to a few pages of brutality, where Rubin does his best Geof Darrow impression, but ends up giving us something that looks more like John K. making Conan comics. Which… isn't bad? Limbs are getting hacked off, monsters are getting stabbed dynamically, there are some fun texture patterns to evoke bloodstains-- it’s all very macho and stylized, and you get all the consequence-free saturday morning cartoon gore you need.
News. Mad had its last NYC party this past week, and Tom Richmond wrote about it, his history with the magazine, and what he thinks of the future. I hope to have more about Mad's transition to Burbank in the coming months, because I really like the comics Noah Van Sciver did about that unlucky bear.
This opinion piece about the supposed diversity problems at Marvel Comics is almost indistinguishable from any particular blowhard in an internet comments section, but I'm linking to it anyway, because for some reason it's being published by a subsidiary company of News Corp. It exemplifies one of the core disabilities at the heart of comics, which is that websites and publications with actual money and reach hire people who are little more than fans, and those people go on to dictate the sort of coverage that maintains a status quo of almost preternatural stupidity. Is it possible that Marvel's diversity choices have done something to their business? Sure. But this article doesn't examine that question with any level of serious inquiry. It merely states that the comics market is having a major financial crisis, talks about one particularly ugly bit of behavior on the part of a few bad actors at a comic book convention, trots out a bunch of dog whistle type phrases to amp up the two sides of a cultural argument, grabs a quote from Milton Griepp to make it appear justified, and tosses it out there on a finance site powered by the same billion dollar corporation that owns The Wall Street Journal.
Reviews & Sundry. Tom Baker's review of I'm Not Here for Broken Frontier gets into that book's specificity of design, and how that specificity is used to compensate for the minimal dialog.
After the soft peach background of the cover, the rest of the book is all whites, greys and the occasional heavy black (for the eyes and hair of the characters, buildings in the dead of night, the darkness around the sights she captures in her camera’s lens), fading away further during flashbacks. An absence of colour is often said to signify an absence of feeling, and a book the main character reads suggests that “feeling is impossible if we feel today as we did yesterday; to feel today the same thing we felt yesterday is not to feel at all…”