Thursday, October 27, 2005

1000-fold thoughts on words and pictures

Congratulations to the Chicago White Sox, World Series champions for the first time since 1917. I didn't watch too much of the series because a) I can't stand Fox b) I can't stand Tim McCarver, c) VH1 is running another new batch of "I Love the '80s", which is something of an addictive drug I hate admitting to having on the television and d) Fox is awful.

Of course, this was all background noise for me as I’ve been plowing through The Thousandfold Thought, the forthcoming conclusion to Scott Bakker's wonderful Prince of Nothing series. While there is a good amount of action in the book, a lot of the narrative consists of dialogue, both internal and between the different characters. Very compelling and adrenaline inducing dialogue at that, and overall, a great sense of mounting tension as everything is coming to a head. I'll save the rest for the review I'll be writing, but Scott is really delivering on the promise laid out in the earlier two volumes.

My copy of Batman Begins arrived last week, and I spent Friday night watching the film and the extras into the night, and goddamn this is a great movie. The extras were pretty cool as they were laid out as an "interactive comic book." The stuff I was most interested in focused on the comics and the reverence Goyer and other commenters held for Miller/Mazzucchelli's Year One storyline. I also thought it very convenient how they managed to slip in plugs for Miller/Lee's All Star Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder, with comments from Jim Lee himself, as well as DC head honchos Paul Levitz and Dan DiDio. Overall, Warner Brothers put together a great DVD package.

Along with Batman Begins, I decided to buy Crisis on Multiple Earths, Vol 1, which tells of the first team-ups of the JLA & JSA. Let's just say comics have come a long way in their storytelling since the issues comprising that book were published in the 1960s. It is cool to see the groundwork for the DC Multiverse laid out, but the dialogue, in particular, is for lack of a better word, hokey. The art, by Mike Sekowsky, is not flashy or out of this world, but fairly solid.

Another Silver-Age collection I recently picked up was the Showcase Presents: Green Lantern volume. Whereas Sekowsky's JLA art in Crisis was very workmanlike, even without the coloring, Gil Kane's art in the GL book is very strong, perhaps the best thing about the book. This isn't to say the stories are bad, because they aren't. Kane’s artwork always has a great sense of activity and movement and seeing his early work is nice. I've been a GL fan for a while now, and some of the things that are now part of the canon of the character were somewhat loose in the early goings. For example, Hal decides to call himself Green Lantern, rather than really having the name bestowed upon him by the Guardians. Another interesting thing was how much of a celebrity Green Lantern was in those early issues, which goes to show heroes as celebrities isn't really something new. Granted, this theme is somewhat embellished now, but don't let Mark Millar let you think he is working with entirely new concepts in The Ultimates.

It really is very much overdue that DC is publishing these giant black and white volumes of the old, stories. Marvel has been publishing their Essential volumes for a few years now and DC finally doing the same. I'll probably be picking up the Superman volume once I make my way through the GL book. I mean really, how can you go wrong for $9.99 for 20+ issues of comics?

Lastly, I am getting back into Bill Willingham's Fables. I don't really remember why I dropped it from my pull list a little over a year ago, I think maybe I was going to start getting it in trades. Either way, I've started to fill in with all the back issues, and read them in order. I like the conceit of the story in this book, fairytale/fantasy characters are real and living in our world, a lot. Sure it may not be the newest concept, but Willingham spins it very well. Mark Buckingham's art is spot on too. Not just the characters, but the overall page design of each issue is unique and conveys the overall theme of the issue/storyline very well. DC is giving away the first issue for free.

However, one of the biggest reasons I've decided to go back and get the single issues rather than the trades is because of the gorgeous cover art of James Jean. Jean also did the cover for Shinedown's new album, Us and Them, which while very good, is not as even and strong as their spectacular debut. Jean is one of the top cover artists in the industry, he's won many awards, and has published for a variety of mediums – comics, magazines, album covers, etc. Much like artist Dave McKean and Sandman, Glenn Fabry and Preacher, Jean will be immediately associated with Willingham's Fables. I just hope they publish a book of Mr. Jean's Fable covers like DC/Vertigo did for the two aforementioned wonderful cover artists. Hell, right now I'd love for DC to publish an issue of Solo focusing on Jean's work.

I think I’ve covered enough geekery for today. Back to life and Mr. Bakker’s wonderful novel, and next week NaNoWriMo. Oh yeah, I added links on the sidebar for artists.

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