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!

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