Friday, April 18, 2014

So, which comics do you like?

I'll never be current with comics, because I don't want to pay four or six or eight dollars for something that will take me five minutes to read, then leave me hanging for a month.  But the volumes that collect multiple issues between hard or trade paperback covers are a good deal, as long as they're not too padded with collectible extras.

I was precious close to being late for work today because I was absorbed in a volume of Scalped (written by Jason Aaron, illustrated by R. M. Guéra), some of the hardest-hitting, non-stop dramatic, visually arresting noir in any medium in recent years.

I'm also enjoying, somewhat to my surprise, the first bound collection of Chew. That acclaimed series is about as high as high-concept gets: Detective hero can learn anything there is to learn about any person or thing by eating it. He's cibopathic, that is, and I assume the book's creator, John Layman, invented the word.

On the one hand, the opening stories (the series is up to about 40 issues by now) are cheekily arch and jokey. The first bound collection of the book is called Taster's Choice, for example, and the series' protagonist is named Tony Chu (say it out loud, then remember his cibopathic power). On the other, the jokiness and genre self-awareness somehow work nicely with the story's dystopian universe, in which chicken and other poultry are illegal.

Finally, I browsed a bound volume of World's Finest Comics that collected issues from my day, when a copy cost 12 cents.  Man, that stuff was for kids!
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Which comics, or graphic novels, do you like, and why? What do they give you that movies or television or books can't?

© Peter Rozovsky 2014

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19 Comments:

Blogger RT said...

I am OLD . . . I like best Donald Duck comics . . . Okay . . . Correction . . . I am ancient.

April 19, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I was lukewarm on Disney even I was still in short pants. Superman could kick Donald Duck's ass, though the Beagle Boys might have tested him.

April 19, 2014  
Blogger RT said...

I was also a huge fan of Classics Illustrated....that should have been a warning to my parents that I was doomed to be an impoverished English teacher.....which I finally became after 25 years in the Navy (dressed for a while like..you guessed it . . .Donald Duck)

April 19, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I would read those when no DCs were available. I was narrow-minded in the matter of comics. I didn't read Marvel Comics, either, unless I had read all the Supermans and Batmans that were to be had.

You dressed like Donald Duck in the Navy: A blue jacket, a little hat, and no pants?

April 19, 2014  
Blogger RT said...

It was an ugly 25 years.

April 19, 2014  
Blogger seana graham said...

Great time for the post, because National Comic Book Day is the first Saturday in May and they give away a lot of free comics. I got on to this from younger friends working at the bookstore. I am not a comic book aficionado in any true sense, but I've come to appreciate the form, and I have to say that I love going to the two comic book stores in town and grabbing up the free ones. It's just really fun to immerse yourself in graphic representation of tales.

I've enjoyed John Lewis's March lately and I picked up one that I haven't gotten to yet called Line of Fire, which renders the Diary of an Unknown Soldier, August to September, 1914.

April 19, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Dang, I saw a notice for National Comic Book Day when I was in South Philly Comics buying the Scalped and Chew books. I should have mentioned that. Doing so will be good excuse for another post, especially if the book I ordered arrived in time. And I'll try to remember to get to the store early this year, so I can get some good stuff,

In re graphic representation: I read the other day that Scalped was under consideration for a television adaptation. The books are so rich visually, the faces of almost all the characters so striking, that a faithful transfer to the screen might be overwhelming. If it becomes a movie or a television show, I hope the cast is packed not with stars, but with superb character actors.

I had not heard of the John Lewis book, but I just found what looks like an interesting article about it here.

April 20, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stephane Heuet's Proust Series which hopefully he will complete. Maybe the illustrations aren't that great but after slogging through the novel it's delightful to have the BD as a recap . . .

April 20, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Proust in a comic. Who would have thought it? I can imagine an illustrator having fun with the madeleine scene.

April 20, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Here’s a sample of Heuet’s Proust. I wonder if a BD version might draw readers to the novel.

April 20, 2014  
Blogger seana graham said...

There is also Posy Simmonds rather delightful Gemma Bovery

April 20, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I hope the comic lives up to the title.

Comic--an odd word for some of the stories under discussion here, but English has none better. The French have the right ides with bandes dessinées (BD).

April 20, 2014  
Blogger seana graham said...

Yes, graphic novel doesn't sound quite right, especially as some of the best are pieces of history or biography.

April 20, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Not to mention that is sounds pretentious. BD described perfectly any sequential, graphic story in a comic strip format, whether comic, romantic, fantasy, history, biography, or what have you. Why didn't we English speakers come up with something similar?

April 20, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Well, because we don't the form as seriously as the French traditionally have.

April 20, 2014  
Blogger RT said...

You're on to something with the word "comics" being an unusual label for the genre. Perhaps some research into the history of "comics" -- newspaper variety, newsstand variety, and modern variety (i.e, the last twenty-five years) -- deserves your considerable sleuthing attention.

I wait for the solution to the mystery.

April 20, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I don't think there's any mystery to why Americans use the terms "comics" and "funnies": It comes from strips that appeared in newspapers. Other cultures derived their names for "comics" from different aspects of the form. I've always liked the Italian term "fumetti," or little puffs of smoke, that it, thought balloons.

I found discussions of the subject here and here. I warn you that the second example is academic writing. Despite that, its enumeration of terms for “comics” is interesting.

April 20, 2014  
Blogger RT said...

Oh, goodness . . . academic! And to think my forced retirement from academia does not spare me the pain of reading academic writing. Egads!

April 20, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Yeah, I knew you might be particularly sensitive on this point. You should be all right if you stop reading after the first paragraph, though.

April 20, 2014  

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