Monday, June 29, 2009


(From Gabrielle Bell's Cecil and Jordan in New York. Click to enlarge.) It's the hanging coattails that make it. And the surprising verb "stood." More on CAJINY later: word balloons, black n white, insidedness, and shifting style.
Check out the mugs on 200 Characters from Dick Tracy 1931-1977 on Mike Lynch's blog. I'm going to search extra hard for a Chairface or Thronetop.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


(From Sam Hiti's Tiempos Finales, Vol 1. Click to enlarge.)

The architecture of these panels! Mothers shout off balconies, a father from a doorway, a grandmother (?) from a garden (?). The first and second rows of panels compose a building where each row is a storey and where the whole is a conglomerate of four separate locations, separate homes. The numbers connect the cries and our eyes to the recipients (this is our leg up on the parents). We are so many places at once, following so many eyes. Though the children are in this together, the calls cut them off from one another and the captions drag us into the separate futures of the evening. We get a sense that the punishments to be doled out have been doled out before for similar crimes. The tiny cells make the third row death row.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


(From Joe Sacco's The Fixer: A Story from Sarajevo. Click to enlarge.)

Why make this comic, I wonder, after seeing this shaky hand hoping to get down every word. Both panels call out the presence of the reporter: the first his physical presence, the second his mechanical presence, his transcriptional prowess. And there's a third, shadowy presence not represented -- his artisanal presence, his transmutational prowess. After being a "professional," Sacco drew a comic. What can he do with comics that he can't do by refining his prose? He can recreate the furiousness of his own hand and the off-kilter flash of new information. He can poke fun at the cliché that hands are the most challenging part of human anatomy to draw. Hands are the easy part.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


(From Criminal #1, the first two panels. Click to enlarge.)

Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips turn crime into a drama of human faces. Their series Criminal reminds me of Dreyer's silent film The Passion of Joan of Arc: unsettling close-ups of confusion and sadness and revelation overshadow and kill plot. Without Phillips's patient rendering of Leo's face, Criminal would be a banal heist flick. Miraculously, the face is the starting point of the series: Leo simply cannot remain as implacable as his mask.

More faces, all Leo's:
To counter the carte blanche reading of Little Orphan Annie in my last post, here's an interview with York University scholar Jeet Heer on the cartoon conservatism of Harold Gray:

In reaction to the New Deal, Gray became much more of a partisan right winger, turning the template of his story (Annie and Warbucks battling against powerful and corrupt forces) into an explicitly conservative populist allegory.

I wanted to emphasize that Annie, without Daddy Warbucks in the picture, is a high-spirited
kid, pushing beyond the adult world of business for a time. Escape allows the orphan girl to encounter the blind man, fringe element to fringe element. This storyline progresses to the point where our blind fiddler is roped into performing to packed houses under the crooked tutelage of business manager Mr. Chizzler. But early on, on the coast of this new storyline, Annie's out!

Thursday, June 4, 2009


(From Gray's Little Orphan Annie. Click to enlarge.) The first panel anticipates the next two. The detailed cityscape has been lettered over. Underneath in the white space we see Annie and Sandy taking stock of the town -- its "nice business section," its "clean streets" -- before declaring that "there's nothin' here that we want." The second panel's style is scoffed at: its stillness, its vanishing point, its realism. Annie and Sandy, like the cartoon letters in the first panel, prevent the city's clear emergence by heading between the vantage points to somewhere less specific and nearly blank (apart from a few contextual bricks). They "push on through and see what's on beyond," and there is no finer mission statement in comics than this. Trading fairness for blindness, business for busking, and cleanliness for spareness.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Sound Effects, Part 4

The very first panel of Batman and Robin #1 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, courtesy of Ain't It Cool News. This comic comes out tomorrow and oh wowie zowie. I'm really just registering my thirst in this post. Enlarge!

Next up: Little Orphan Annie.

Icons, Part 2

(From Seaguy #1 by Morrison and Stewart. Click to enlarge.)

Following Lynda Barry's dissection of her character, the debut of Grant Morrison's new character and dud superhero Seaguy is obstructed by ennui and tv. From the get-go, Seaguy is outmoded, his brand and iconicity pallid next to the absurdity of Mickey Eye and the ubiquity of Xoo. Mickey Eye: a doppelganger Disney program advocating "am-bi-gyoo-ity" and a zany non-sequitur from the previous panels. Xoo: malleable and sentient food item that brainwashes and silences. How can Seaguy compete with global marketing? "But everything's been done," he says, and eats. What strikes me about this sequence is the shadow of the fork-and-food in the second panel. This code or glyph shines on Seaguy's face, and should probably mean something, communicating as it were over Seaguy's mouth and under Seaguy's words. It's an enigmatic and esoteric contrast to the advertising tableau of the fourth panel (SG's Xoo endorsement). A nice touch by artist Cameron Stewart.

Four parallel lines, that's all? Read between them. Maybe I should have used the word "umbra."