Tuesday, March 01, 2016

My dossier on Ed Brubaker

I'm starting to get a line on Ed Brubaker, the celebrated writer of such crime comics as Criminal, The Fade-Out, and Velvet:

1) Brubaker works with some terrific artist/illustrators: Sean Phillips on The Fade Out and Criminal, Steve Epting on Velvet. Those guys get the stories' dark atmosphere down, and they know when an illustration should absorb the reader, and when it should retreat, literally, into the background.

2) Brubaker favors fractured, multiple-viewpoint narrative, and he uses it well.

3) Brubaker has a weakness for melodrama. The works beautifully in The Fade-Out and Velvet, less well in "Lawless," the second story arc in Criminal, where it's a bad fit with the story's emotionless-returning-veteran-bent-on-revenge protagonist. What's the point of dragging out a string on deus ex machina secrets if the protagonist will show no more reaction than burying his head in his hands, and that only once that I can recall?

4) That excess will occasionally find its way into dialogue or narration by female characters, in lines like "Do even see me at all?" — soap-opera stuff, and not in a good way.

5) Brubaker and his editors appear not to know the difference between phase and faze and to think that "I won't argue that..." means "I won't disagree..." *
* "I certainly won't argue that betrayal is a big part of the story, for sure. One of the things that I really wanted to write about [in Velvetwas the way espionage agencies use and discard assets and operatives... " 

(It appears that "argue"in the sense that Brubaker uses is, meaning "to disagree with," is not sanctioned by Merriam-Webster, which means that I'm right. But this week I found a third example of its use in that sense. One was from an American novel of the 1950s, which suggests the usage might be older or outmoded. That followed an example from the work of one of the worst writers I have ever come across in my professional life. This suggests the usage might be substandard.  )

© Peter Rozovsky 2016

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Blogger Patrick Murtha said...

But "argue" CAN mean exactly that, "dispute". As in the well-known phrase "argue the point", which appears frequently in English and American literature and is also widely used by ordinary people.

March 01, 2016  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks for the comment. I would argue

a) that the usage you suggest is idiomatic or specialized, and

b) that the first usage example in the following link backs up my argument and that the second might back up yours: http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/argue+the+point

March 01, 2016  

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