Friday, February 19, 2010

The Gunk

Grocer v. Barber chapter five page one.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Time Travel

Back to Starman #81: James Robinson filters a general history through an elder guard's memory so that it smacks of spontaneous recall as well as passed-down wisdom. We quickly follow iconic Opal City heroes through time to find out "what the hell happened to them."

I am reminded of Lynda Barry's formulation in What It Is that a memory is "an image which travels through time." Let's look at time travel. Here's Jeff Lemire in Tales from the Farm:
The 3rd panel is the time-traveling image, the boy-is-this-ever-going-to-stay-with-you image. In the 4th panel, however, the memory-image emerges into layered, expansive space by extending the scope of the (briefly self-contained) 3rd panel: Ken's in there now. The flashback's his to occupy.

As a daffier example of a hero tossed back to the past, here's Kyle Baker in Plastic Man socking it to Bats:
These green-and-orange images travel through time because every new bloody artist who takes on Batman is forced to draw the traumatic moment. DC Comics makes sure this image travels through time. The joke on the next page ("Batman? Stay with us, buddy.") is a good one, but the memory-image of the killer lodged into Batman's forehead might be better. I've often thought of a Bruce Wayne with a misshapen head, which was warped by death in Crime Alley, and would be easy as hell for a phrenologist to read.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Same Page

Blackest Night -- whatever that is -- has slyly resurrected dead comics too. James Robinson resumes Starman and he must, by virtue of a long absence, spend time getting his readers up to speed. He walks through Opal City happenings by literally walking through a museum. History is doled out into (false) even-spaced panels, is proper, only to get jumbled, the two guards crowding together, layering over their previous selves and undoing the linearity of a tour back in time. To get us on the same page, Robinson takes two pages. This bleeding over the page and bunching up is, perhaps, a more elegant way of drawing a zombie. This bleeding is quieter than the inevitable blood on the next page.

(Art by Fernando Dagnino and Bill Sienkiewicz. Those veiny foot shadows are too sweet.)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


(From Urasawa's Pluto Vol. 1.) Reading right to left, of course, we see ears behind the panel's frame. We skip panels with an ear still under and confront an amazing nose that comes close to breaking the frame. Ear and nose relative to the same y-intercept! Gesicht's nose approaches the asymptote of the frame. From now on I need to think about the coordinates of separate characters.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Two marvelous sound effects from Urasawa's Pluto Vol. 1. The top: scribbly and disconnected. The bottom: a surfboard of motion. Elevators get the praise they deserve.

Monday, February 8, 2010


From Kyle Baker's Plastic Man: On the Lam!: a gag per panel. Something to aspire to.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


Prince Valiant is bewitchingly understated at times. Once again: brutality deflates.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


Conjecture: the middle fold of a newspaper creates a top and a bottom. I sense that below the fold Foster attempts to reorient his story using the bottom's centre. Foster uses the bottom's centre only a handful of times in the first 2 years of Valiant. Although it's not a typical tactic, it does self-consciously and momentarily challenge the virtues of his medieval adventure strip.

Two examples of below the fold.

1, up) Val, so youthful, so handsome, is singled out in the centre and then laughed at. (I have cropped the panel to the left of Val.) We hear nothing from Val, though us loyal readers already know the grand story, and so the finger in the centre demands something more from him. The row below these 2 out of 3 panels shows Val getting violent; this moment of judgment, therefore, has been incorrectly answered. Foster denies Val his story to foreshadow his failure.

2, down) There's no lower row to these big panels, but once again I have cropped a third panel (this time on the right). The knave's face is so strong, so desperate, that we need to be reminded of Val's valiance or the knave will cease to be a knave. Foster gives this knave so much life at his moment of death. His wild and detailed face obscures young Val, obscures the capture of Sir Gawain, and obscures the grand story of Valiant. And so, Val must take centre stage again, swift and surefooted.