Thursday 22 September 2011

On and on it goes. Apparently Scotland Yard is suppressing information that could lead to the unmasking of Jack the Ripper.

The cold, cold case of Jack the Ripper LA TImes Sept 20

A retired homicide detective is trying to force Scotland Yard to release uncensored versions of files that might offer fresh leads on the identity of Britain's most notorious serial killer.
The volumes contain tens of thousands of tidbits on the Yard's dealings with the public and police informants in the years that followed the Ripper's grisly two-month killing rampage in 1888. The shadowy figure is alleged to have slain five women in London's seamy Whitechapel district, slitting their throats and, in some cases, eviscerating them with almost surgical precision.
But the Metropolitan Police Service, as Scotland Yard is formally known, has staunchly refused to publish the documents in unexpurgated form, without names blacked out.
Alan Moore and I intended to do an update of the dance of the gull catchers (or ripperologists), a further appendix indeed, on the tenth anniversary of the realease of From Hell, which would have been two years ago. But we never got around to it.


Wednesday 21 September 2011

My old pal Phil Elliott decided to post in his blog after not touching it for over a year. What makes people do that?

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I'm more interested in the similarities between writers, or artists or whatever, than their differences. While reading Rene Girard's The Scapegoat ( Le Bouc émissaire 1982), which I suppose would come under the heading of philosophical anthropology, I find myself sidelined into looking into the picture of his life and times when i come across this paragraph:
Girard began to develop a new way of speaking about literary texts. Beyond the "uniqueness" of individual works, he tried to discover their common structural properties after noticing that characters in great fiction evolved in a system of relationships otherwise common to the wider generality of novels. But there was a distinction to be made:
"Only the great writers succeed in painting these mechanisms faithfully, without falsifying them: we have here a system of relationships that paradoxically, or rather not paradoxically at all, has less variability the greater a writer is." etc.
Online gamers crack enzyme riddle
Online gamers have achieved a feat beyond the realm of Second Life or World of Warcraft: they have deciphered the structure of an enzyme of an AIDS-like virus that had thwarted scientists for a decade.
The exploit was detailed on Sunday in the journal Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, where - exceptionally in scientific publishing - both gamers and researchers are honoured as co-authors.
Their target was a monomeric protease enzyme, a cutting agent in the complex molecular tailoring of retroviruses, a family that includes HIV.


Tuesday 20 September 2011

I intended to write about Paco Roca's Arrugas before long, but circumstances have encouraged an early post, as I'll explain in a minute. Arrugas means 'Wrinkles', is Published by Astiberri, Spain, 2007,now in its seventh printing, and is the story is of Emilio and his fellow residents in an old people's home. Specifically, the narrative looks at the effects Alzheimer's disease, sensitively but not without a lot of humour. There is great charm in the way characters are in and out of each other's delusions as in the following scene, in which we see Senora Rosario permanently on the Orient Express.

Emilio is befriended immediately upon his arrival by Miguel, who practices an unending number of wheezes to separate his fellow residents from their cash, as you can see in the fifth and sixth panels below, to the horror of Emilio, who in his workaday life was a bank manager.

Compare the above samples with my previous look at Roca and notice how he devises a particular style for each new project. Observe the shapes of the balloons and their tails for instance, and though you can't see it in these scans, each of his books is printed on a different choice of paper. I discussed his work in the context of the 'novela grafica' which the artist has said he sees as a concept that offers a liberation from ready-made conventional formulae of format and approach. Each project defines its own.

With El invierno del dibujante and Arrugas, Paco Roca has shown himself to be a graphic novelist of the first order. In an ideal world, Drawn and Quarterly would be publishing him in English Language editions. Tell them I said so.

Yesterday's issue of the Spanish daily, El Pais has a report on an the premiere of the full length animated film based on Arrugas, first announced I think in 2009 : (we're back in GoogleSpain I'm afraid. I'll try to fix it):

'Wrinkles', a unique comic book, an outstanding film
At 87 minutes the session ends. Applause. The first spectators run out and lose a gift. Rosa Lema, 101, senile dementia, sang a song, a treasure found by a sound engineer who visited the residences.
I think they're saying there was a surprise after the end credits got rolling.
As the lights cam e back on, Roca breathed a sigh of relief, "Of course things change, even the characters [there are even different nationalities among the players], but the spirit's there. They got what I wanted to tell." He turned right and embraced Ferreras (the producer or director I think), who was eyeing him with some caution. "Congratulations."

A frame from the film.

Santiago Garcia argued recently that Roca is even better when he is being casually funny than when he is trying to draw the great graphic novel, as in a new collection of his weekly strip titled Memoirs of a Man in Pyjamas


Monday 19 September 2011

Excellent interview with Craig Thompson at Guernicamag, with his eagerly awaited Habibi to be released this week:
"Comics can now embrace their natural tendencies to be quiet. They’re like letters. No one writes letters anymore, but they’re actually written by hand. And graphic novels are like that. One person draws every picture. The drawing turns into writing and the writing turns into something visual. It’s something readers consume on their own. It’s not like when you go to your local theater and have a movie sort of wash over you. You take it in intimately at your own pace—like a handwritten letter."

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Sunday 18 September 2011