Saturday, 16 July 2011

A Big Spread-2

A fter yesterday's post about the upcoming Bacchus collection I had a couple of follow-on thoughts. Firstly, all those ugly little creatures were drawn by Pete Mullins. You can see how he's turned this one into a Kubrick reference:

They are called the screaming habdabs:
abdabs /ˈabdabz/ (also habdabs)
▶plural noun
Brit. informal (often in phr. the screaming abdabs) nervous anxiety or irritation.
– origin 1940s: of unknown origin.
The habdabs have often been read as synonym for Delirium Tremens (or 'giving the invisible man a handshake') an unspeakable condition that I personally hope never to suffer. Tremens is a character in the story, and thus so are the habdabs. The great thing about cartooning in its very essence, is that nothing is literal. Abstract ideas, propositions, medical conditions, can be made into characters. A character can wear all of his guilt in a wretched suit of Tattoos.

One of the saddening tendencies of the late comic books is the habit of getting literal. There are some obvious outward signs of this. One such example is the decline of the thought balloon, because although we hear the speech of others, as seen in their speech balloons, we are not privy to their thoughts and so, the theory goes, these should not be made visible. Thus in the more literal-minded comics of our days, such as those from Vertigo, thought balloons have been expunged and replaced by the cinematic technique of the voice-over.
Another comics trick that has largely gone south is the speaking building. This was a staple of the newspaper Illustrated strips, used as a way of setting a scene while simultaneously jumping into the dialogue. It could also be a way of breaking up a static conversation, by cutting to an exterior view. But this had to go. Why? Because buildings don't speak.

I have always liked the talking building:

But the talking building has got nothing on the thinking truck:


Just pointed out to me is this interview with Stephen King from May 14 2010 :
But he fell away from the genre for several years, and in that time the form had evolved considerably, which made writing for the medium a new challenge for even as seasoned a writer as King. “You have to be very humble, and you have to take advice because it’s a new way of seeing, to actually write it is a new way of writing...
One example:Thought bubbles—those puffy, dotted clouds that were a staple of early comics—have been phased out. “I got this kind of embarrassed call from the editors saying, ‘Ah, Steve, we don't do that anymore.’ ‘You don't do that anymore?’ I said. ‘No, when the characters speak, they speak. If they're thinking, you try to put that across in the narration, in the little narration boxes.’” So King happily re-wrote to fit the new style—though he still laments the loss of the thought bubble. “I think it's a shame to lose that arrow out of your quiver. One of the nice things about the written word as opposed to the spoken word in a movie is that you can go into a character's thoughts. You do it in books all the time, right?”
Poor old Stephen King, made to write in the Vertigo house style. I hope he didn't go away thinking all of comics work that way.

Labels: ,

Friday, 15 July 2011

A Big Spread-1

I'm scanning and preparing Bacchus for its big printing coming up soon. This spread was tricky. It's four pages that all connect up to show a huge absurd brawl in a pub. In the original comic it was printed on two spreads, and will be probably be in the same configuration this time around. You can click on it and blow it up to the width of your screen. Bigger than that if you like..

The original is in two large pieces 22x17 inches and I drew it with Pete Mullins away back in April 1996. A four-page spread is something I always wanted to do at least once in my life after Jim Steranko, a childhood hero of mine, did it back in April 1968.

I got the Steranko scan from Bully's blog. You'll need to go there for the enlargeable version.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

We have always been trying to figure out how to get a review in the NY Review of Books. Brought to my attention by Ethan in yesterday's Comments:
Meanwhile, in this corner, famed inventor and scientist Freeman Dyson oh-so-casually makes this comment in what is probably one of the first-ever reviews of a comic book in the very prestigious New York Review of Books:
"Twenty years ago, when I was traveling on commuter trains in the suburbs of Tokyo, I was astonished to see that a large fraction of the Japanese commuters were reading books, and that a large fraction of the books were comic books. The genre of serious comic-book literature was highly developed in Japan long before it appeared in the West. The Ottaviani-Myrick book is the best example of this genre that I have yet seen with text in English. Some Western readers commonly use the Japanese word manga to mean serious comic-book literature. According to one of my Japanese friends, this usage is wrong. The word manga means “idle picture” and is used in Japan to describe collections of trivial comic-book stories. The correct word for serious comic-book literature is gekiga, meaning “dramatic picture.” The Feynman picture-book is a fine example of gekiga for Western readers."

by Jim Ottaviani, with art by Leland Myrick and coloring by Hilary Sycamore
First Second, 266 pp., $29.99

Monday, 11 July 2011

Meanwhile in googlehungary:

"I think Eddie Campbell is right, that instead of definitions vesződnénk, focus more on individual works of quality and the fact that all the serious work behind a component is said to chutney with and targets."


Sunday, 10 July 2011

This is the oldest comic I have kept. It's in loose leaves and is one of the two colour stories out of the 1964 Tiger annual which I got brand new for Chrismas ('63... did those things have the year that was just about to begin? I can't remember) and which was read to death at an early age. I have always wondered if this was drawn by a Spanish artist, as it has a more robust quality than all the other things that were around it in the book. M'colleague David Roach, expert in these things, has just told me that it's the work of Argentinian Francisco Solano López. Lopez drew EL ETERNAUTA in his home country between 1957 and 1959, as shown here in a recent reprint of Dec.2010, by m'other colleague Pepo Perez. From wikipedia: "A success, El Eternauta came to the attention of the authorities as the series featured commentary of the political situation of Argentina and neighbouring Chile, prompting López to flee for Spain to avoid possible arrest." In Madrid, among other things, López obtained work though an agency that supplied finished comic art to Fleetway in London, presumably from scripts commissioned there (I need names and details!). Through the London connection López drew the long-running Kelley's Eye, of Which British comics afficionado Captain Storm has been posting a great deal (scroll to the beginning). The piece in my files here is set in Dolumbia, one of those made-up Latin American dictatorships of which in my childhood I came to think there must be an unlimited supply. The villain is General Tanco. I'm surethe artist must have felt roused to make a good job of it.