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Thought Bubble Burst

Frank Santoro’s here with his latest Riff Raff column, discussing new work by Malachi Ward. Here’s an excerpt:

… We see a flashback of “what went wrong” in the city 62 years earlier. (Is it the same woman at a younger age? It’s hard to tell only because she has a different nose but the same tattoo under her eye.) Ward switches from a six-panel grid to a three-tier set up with either nine or six panels to “open up” the flashback section. We see a young woman make her way through a large agitated crowd and lots of cops in riot gear. She and a young man make their way to the front line where the cops are. It’s political rally or a speech by the President. Everyone is yelling. The crowd and the cops square off. I was impressed at how fast this transition from open seaside cliffs to crowded city riot worked visually within so few pages. Ward is able to use a combination of layout shifts and color accentuations to reinforce the scene visually. The cops are all darker in value on the page and the way they are shown in counterpoint to the rest of the crowd rendered in lighter colors is very well executed. Crowd scenes are the types of things most cartoonists avoid so I enjoyed staring at the details in this scene. Then the layouts shift back to the six-panel grid to end the flashback. That’s solid comics-making in my book.

And we also have Craig Fischer’s review investigating the latest Pascal Girard book via its connections with the great filmmaker Eric Rohmer.

A key to unlocking Pascal Girard’s Petty Theft is the book’s French title, La Collectionneuse (“The Collector”), a title shared with a 1967 film by New Wave auteur Eric Rohmer. Girard may have borrowed this title as a way of announcing a creative debt to Rohmer: both Rohmer and Girard are low-key, naturalistic artists who specialize in stories about self-conscious male protagonists navigating thorny romantic relationships. Rohmer’s La Collectionneuse is an entry in his “Moral Tales” cycle of films—called “moral” not for ethical reasons, but because the term moraliste in the Gallic cultural context refers to those writers (such as Stendahl) who take the interior lives of men and women as their primary subject. Rohmer himself described his characters as people who like to bring their motives, the reasons for their actions, into the open. They try to analyze; they are not people who act without thinking about what they are doing. What matters is what they think about their behavior, rather than their behavior itself. They aren’t films of action, they aren’t films in which physical action takes place, they aren’t film in which there is anything very dramatic, they are films in which a particular feeling is analyzed and where even the characters themselves analyze their feelings and are very introspective. That’s what Conte moral [moral tale] means.


Meanwhile, elsewhere:


—Reviews & Criticism.
Dana Jennings at the Times reviews the new “Artist’s Edition” of Jack Kirby’s New Gods. TCJ regular Sean Rogers briefly addresses new work by Jaime Hernandez, Jesse Jacobs, and Mariko & Jillian Tamaki. Rob Clough writes about Gilbert Hernandez’s Maria M.

—Commentary. Heidi MacDonald writes about the online controversy over SDCC’s harassment policy. James Heartfield thinks the British Library’s Comics Unmasked exhibit features too many superhero deconstructions and too little funny stuff. Mike Sterling thinks that DC’s New 52 logos and numbering makes their covers confusing. Peter Huestis has problems with the new Random Acts of Nancy feature.

—Awards. The Shuster Awards have announced this year’s nominations. Alison Bechdel and Nicole Georges won Lambda Awards. If you’re eligible, don’t forget to vote for the Eisners.

—Misc. Publishers Weekly profiles Roz Chast, and Joost Swarte starts a new Dutch comics publisher.


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