Just To Name a Few. . .

I didn’t know which web comics to choose (I have twenty bagillion bookmarked right now), so here’s a list of some pretty descent ones I know of:

1. Rice Boy: A surrealist story wherein the titular character is thrown about by fate to fulfill a prophecy.Order of Tales is good, too, but this is worth spending a night reading and pushing off a paper. . . which I wouldn’t know anything about. Nope.

2. Romantically Apocalyptic: Green screens, actors, and some intense patients make this one of the most involved web comics in existence. I think.

3. Happle Tea: Mythology is hilarious on its own, so really this guy’s just lazy. Well, except for the whole scripting, drawing, inking, and  coloring thing. Other than that, freeloader.

4. Scary Go Round: This is the only sci-fi/horror/comedy comic I know of that’s lasted long enough to have “eras.” I wonder why?

5. Girl Genius: Look! Steampunk that isn’t made weird by Will Smith!

6. Gypsy: Proving once and for all that too much learnin’ will, in fact, give you brain freeze. This is a hint.

7. Blip: God is a jerk, and I’m not sure about Satan yet.

8. Hanna is Not a Boy’s Name: Yeah, yeah, vampires, werewolves, wizards, and zombies are overdone. But this one’s pretty!

9. Subnormality: Because, looking over this list, I realize that having 9 links is way better than having just 8. Also, this comic is pretty thoughtful and funny, too. But mostly because I’m OCD.

The Unwritten Art

So I went rummaging through Vertigo’s blog, Graphic Content, and I found this post about the creative process that goes into making the comic. Looking at these pages, it makes it more incredible to see how the team has to negotiate the lay of each page and make executive decisions about what stays, what gets changes, and what gets cut altogether. It’s interesting to find out how they start from  script and work their way up, but I particularly enjoyed the parts that mention the specific details of each panels that you might have missed (or wanted to ignore, i.e. Tommy’s Magic Horn hovering above a kid’s head). I also thought it was interesting to read about their choice to go with water color for the Tommy Taylor pages, which really makes them stand out from the other pages.  The last paragraph, though rushed, draws attention to Tommy Taylor’s look differs from Tom’s. I wish there was more detail on that aspect of the book, but it’s enough to make one think about how the two character compare and contrast.


“Every memory is a re-creation, not a playback” (Ignazio)

One of the discussions that we had in class this week was about memory in Asterios Polyp. Since a large portion of this book is flashbacks, it was worth mentioning how important memories are for this book. One of the sections in particular that we looked at was the sequence of Hana going through day-to-day activities (bathing, sneezing, laughing, getting sick, etc.).  There’re not necessarily the most defining, important, or happiest snapshots of their relationship, but they capture the side of Hana to which Asterios became accustomed—the essence of Hananess. Willy was right when he said, “All movement is arbitrary, it’s repetition that makes meaning,” because these moments of repetition and ritual characterize who a person really is, not the rare, outliers that occur from time to time.

In the same way, the flashbacks may not represent the story of Asterios Polyp in its entirety—did Willy’s show get cancelled, when did Asterios and Hana get divorced, did Asterios quit teaching, etc.—but it gives the audience the highlights and lowlights of what occurred. And because these flashbacks are more or less restricted to what Asterios (and Ignazio by proxy) knows, the full story cannot be fully known.

We brushed a little on Asterios’ video tapes, which can also represent memory. In a way, the documentation of events and one’s memory are similar. Both can be altered, destroyed, or decontextualized.  When Asterios watches his videos in the beginning of the book, the reader might think differently of them until their gain context. And when the fire burns his videos, several decades of memories go up in smoke. All memory is fallible.

Kid’s Just Don’t Understand

One of the aspects of this novel that stuck out for me (besides the dead bodies, bombs, sex, and the illustration style) was the relationship (or lack thereof) that Koby has with his father, Gabriel. Because the novel focuses on Koby, we are initially left to hear how much Koby resents his father– he doesn’t listen, we was never there, he’s a jerk, etc. At this point, readers might be left rolling their eyes, thinking that it’s going to be another novel about coping with daddy issues and moving on.

As Gabriel’s disappearance becomes more involved, however, we see that Koby’s version of events is unreliable and that he can only tell half of the story. When he talks about his bar mitzvah, for example, he is angry that his father arrived halfway through the ceremony– which is a valid response. As he reads from the Torah, Gabriel began to cry and Koby, rather than feeling touched or proud, wants to die of embarrassment and calls his father a jerk (58-59). And when Gabriel took the time to get him a shirt signed by a professional soccer team, Koby whines that it’s not the right team (he describes them as “worse than Satan”) and  that his father doesn’t listen to him (79-80).While Gabriel might not have been the most perceptive father, Koby wasn’t exactly the best son either. The novel may start off depicting Gabriel as a distant father, contributions from other characters finish the picture and reveal that their relationship was based on misunderstanding and not neglect or hatrid. Although Koby blames Gabriel for their miserable relationship, he only exacerbated the problem by not trying to understand his father’s actions.

Maus: The Soundtrack

Personally, sometimes I can’t work without some music in the background. According to this snippet from NPR’s Intersections, Art Spiegelman also needed a little sound to inspire him while creating Maus. Along with the recordings of his father Vladek, Spiegelman also tuned in to the Comedy Harmonics (read the article), both of which you can listen to on the site.  I had some trouble playing the recordings directly beneath the article, but the ones at the top of the  page are interesting when you put them into context. The clip from Vladek is transposed almost verbatim into the comic, which I felt really made it pop in terms of authenticity.

If you look around the sight (i.e. just below the article and somewhere to the right) there are also some links (some broken) to articles about Maus from NPR and other sites.

Holy Time Warp, Batman!

After reading the article about the history of Batman, I was interested by the cultural twists and turns that the Batman series has taken. It is interesting to see how the Batman appears in the beginning of his career and how he looks now and to note all the little detours that have occurred in between. The amalgamation of figures used to conceptualize the first Batman, for instance, harkens to a time where crime fighters were about . . . well, fighting crime and crafting secret identities. Not much time seemed to be spent on the ethics of beating villains senselessly, it all seemed simple and tame (except for the BLAMS! to villain skulls).

Then there is the era of war propaganda, wherein Batman and Robin fight the forces of evil . . .  who happen to be Japanese. It is hard to imagine a time when it was so easy to be so blatantly racist without adding that “just kidding” element.

And how can we forget the campiness of the Batman live-action TV series with Adam West, complete with trippy transitions and even trippier Robin catchphrases.

Holy, Holy- Batman

And now today’s Batman (meaning within the last few decades) is the opposite: less dancing, more stabbing. We go from a Batman who has to save Robin on a regular basis and  to one who has to watch out for the cops because of child endangerment charges, among other things.

It would be hard to image a publication not change with the times, so it is interesting to see the implications of fashion, pop culture, and current events on the comic, shows, and movies. And yet one would have to wonder whether these changes make Batman who he is, a product of cultural change, or if it detracts from his origins and turns him into something other than Batman.