Thursday, 13 August 2009

thomas Pynchon's new novel is out. Sean Rogers in The Walrus looks at references to comics in Pynchon and references to Pynchon in comics.
In his new novel, Inherent Vice, released last week, there’s a part where Thomas Pynchon has a character say, “I am aware of the Freak Brothers’ dictum that dope will get you through times of no money better than vice versa….” Later, another says, “Listen, I came up in Temecula, which is Krazy Kat Kountry, where you always root for Ignatz and not Offisa Pup.” Now, I haven’t finished the book just yet, but still I got to thinking about Pynchon and comics.
Ever attuned to the lower frequencies of American culture, the wavelengths where rock and roll and monster movies and The Tube all play out, Pynchon is an author who can ably salt away a few references to comics, too, throughout his works.
Rogers even uses my drawing of Alan Moore intoning Pynchon's name, from How to be an Artist

Speaking of sea-dwelling creatures, John Coulthart is reading Moby Dick and has reached chapter 55 wherein Melville looks back at ancient depictions of the whale and describes their grotesque inaccuracies. "Now, by all odds, the most ancient extant portrait anyways purporting to be the whale’s, is to be found in the famous cavern-pagoda of Elephants, in India..." John attempts to find some of them in old engravings and illustrations. Here is my own favourite old whale. It's from Punch, either 1849 or 1850 (i have the books but today i don't have the time), and almost exactly contemporary with Moby Dick, drawn by Richard Doyle. A whale had beached at Margate and the Duke of Wellington was arguing with the locals over ownership of the carcass. The noble custom of putting the beast back in the water had not yet been invented.

Speaking of Wellington, in a town named after him:
WELLINGTON (Reuters) – An extremely drunk, naked man lost his way at a New Zealand hotel and ended up sleeping in the wrong room, forcing its female occupant to hide in the bathroom, local media reported.
The 29 year-old Australian man had gone back to the hotel with a woman, but got up in the night and wandered into a bedroom where a couple were sleeping.
"He was a bit surprised that there were two people in his room and he was butt naked," Sergeant Steve told the Southland Times...

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Blogger Robert Morales said...

Sometime in the early '80's, I spoke with Pynchon's agent with the very slim hope of trying to get an interview with him for Heavy Metal magazine - Lou Stathis was editing their pop culture section then. His agent was adamant that Pynchon would NEVER consent but I talked her into passing along a written request, in which I explained that I couldn't see him talking to Time or Playboy, but I could see him tempted by Mad or a Spider-Man annual - and that I thought Heavy Metal was on the next rung down the ladder. A week later, his agent angrily relayed, "He's thinking about it!" But it didn't happen - she clearly didn't want him to do it, and I'd discover some years later the two were married with a son.

The point being: If you only read The Crying of Lot 49, you'd never be surprised that Pynchon would have a familiarity with Herriman or anything else.

13 August 2009 at 08:52:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Hayley Campbell said...

I do like your segues.

I also find it odd that I'm at exactly the same spot in Moby Dick as Coulhart. It's a cracking book. Only started reading it because of Zelig. No one ever said "Moby Dick is funny, you know." I would have read it ages ago had I known.

13 August 2009 at 11:54:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous John C said...

Yes, Melville has a great sense of humour, and I'm continually charmed by the way he strays from the point. I'm actually up to chapter 90-something now but reading fairly slowly. Picked up a cheap paperback then decided I needed the Modern Library hardback which features all of Rockwell Kent's great illustrations, many of which help you better appreciate the details of whaling. He appends little vignettes showing bits of ship equipment and so on.

Oddly enough I was thinking of trying Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow again afterwards. Started that a couple of times but never got through it.

13 August 2009 at 21:34:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You'll have to forgive me, but the man who introduced me to your comics way back when is doing his phd on Pynchon and is blogging his way through Inherent Vice at something like

I hope you'll forgive the plug,

Steve Block

15 August 2009 at 07:58:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Bhob said...

Wonder if Starbucks will ever do a promotion based on the fact that Moby Dick was based on a real-life whale named Mocha Dick?

Bhob @ Potrzebie

15 August 2009 at 12:46:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Hayley Campbell said...

They can pretend they named themselves after Ahab's chief mate.

15 August 2009 at 13:36:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...


No, actually, apparently they did, because 'Pequod' was rejected by one of the co-founders

seriooosly... see the wikipedia page

(I didn't know this till I just looked it up)

15 August 2009 at 18:48:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Hayley Campbell said...

Oh, bloomin' eck. That's weird.

16 August 2009 at 07:38:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

Bob, thanks for the anecdote.
Steve, thanks for the link. lots of good stuff.

19 August 2009 at 05:46:00 GMT-5  

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