Thursday, May 28, 2009

Icons, Part 1

(From Ernie Pook's Comeek, credit to Marlys Magazine.)

I'm interested in Marlys as a recognizable character, as an icon. She's consistently drawn; I am confident that I could pick her out of a baroque police line-up. And with Lynda Barry's easy steps, you could draw her too: why, Marlys is nothing but "the egg," "a line," "also a line," and "kind of a sideways B." Marlys lays bare her DNA, divulges the secret to the magic trick of Marlys, and you feel as if you've known Marlys all your life. She's elemental, basic school stuff, not like Betty Boop and her deceitful curves and lashes.

Like the cheeky sound effects from MAD #1, Marlys goes backwards to the page, letting you know that there's an artistic sequence hidden beneath the comic sequence: the drawing of the thing one simple line at a time. This comic is a call for reproduction, for creating again and again from scratch the uniqueness of character. In an interview with Wired magazine, Grant Morrison talks about tackling the seventy-year-old familiarity of Superman:

I’ve done my bit but tomorrow, other writers will be forced to think like Superman, to do and say things only Superman would do and say, even though technically, he is not "real" and his writers allegedly are. Imagine being possessed by a meme that uses writers and artists to sustain its existence before moving into the next host, the next generation!

Marlys is not Superman: she's not as public and she's not kept alive to the same viral extent. She is assembled from familiar eggs and Bs, not transmitted corporately, and her uniqueness depends on Dr. Barry's home experiments and her audience's participation (picking up NOW magazine for instance). You can draw her too, it's "so cinchy," but the point is that you don't need to. Marlys is Marlys at least for now, maybe not forever, though the elements will remain. She's exuberantly mortal.

The chicken is liking this blog! Next up: Seaguy (thanks to my Morrison segue).

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