I chose to read "Sweets: A new Orleans Crime story," and I can’t say I found the story particularly engaging. It seems to follow the generic detective plot without deviating too far from the formula. As soon as I started reading, I felt like I was watching en episode of “Lawn and Order.” There’s a really good detective who’s a bit of a rogue and is disliked by the police chief. He’s having marital problems, probably because of his commitment to his job. He begins working on a case and finds it was more than he bargained for…It all felt a little old. I enjoyed the art a lot, though. The colors the author chose were incredibly appealing in their own right, and the character designs were realistic, but render in a way that was very interesting visually.
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
I watched the Triplets of Bellville and while I appreciated that animation, I can’t say I really enjoyed the film. The pacing of the film felt very slow, which I actually liked at first because it allowed me to get to know the characters, but none of the main characters seemed to have enough personality to get me entertained. I was also a little put off by the design of the cycler. He was interesting but I could really get excited about his design they way I did with the dog and the two dark suits. Overall I think it was a movie I would recommend, if only because it important as far as animation goes.
I struggled through part of the Watchmen, and eventually had to give up. The novels’ writing is verbose and often feels very cliché, even for a comic. While I didn’t mind the art, I didn’t find it especially engaging either – it seems purely functional and there wasn’t much about it that endeared it to me. What ruined the Watchmen for me were the panels – they’re all the same size and shape – rectangular bricks on a brick-shaped page. It was hard for me to feel any sense of dynamic movement throughout the novel when every picture was trapped within a small static brick. I read a lot of manga, which typically tries to emphasize the energy of its drawings through the shape and composition of its panels. I would have really appreciated even a little bit of that, because spending an hour squinting at bricks was not fun. I was never a huge fan of noir films either – the sprawling monologues that the main characters often have always felt very indulgent to me. Unless it was used as a device for parody I didn’t see anything really appealing about it.
Nedroid Picture Diary (nedroid.com) may be my favorite webcomic. The series starts Reginald, a bird of some kind and Beartato, a vaguely bare themed circle who almost resembles a round potato. Reginald is silly in a sort of naïve, arrogant way – almost like Patrick from the first season of SpongeBob square pants. Beartato is more prone to reason and often plays the straight man in their gags, almost like Hobbes from Calvin and Hobbes, but like Hobbes, he has his silly moments as well. The comics writing is hilarious, and is a little reminiscent of the writing in Kate Beaton’s “Hark a Vagrant,” often funny because it is so restrained. The characters also have a very limited facial expressions – Reginald is always drawn in profile with one eye to camera. Each eye is one large dot on the side of his head. He has no eyebrows and his beak never smiles or frowns. His emotions are always clear though (unless they are intentionally confusing) and never feel cliché or unsophisticated. Beartato’s mouth his in the middle of his body, and it communicates a lot of what he is feeling. While he is the more expressive character visually, Reginald’s lack of expression often contextualizes his emotions and makes them funnier. Reginald and Beartato have, two friends Harrison, a shark in a space suit, and Weirdo, a weird looking guy. Occasionally Reginald goes on dates, who are always drawn as real women.
Johnny the Homicidal Maniac is one of my favorites from Jhonen Vasequez. The style feels very organic and unrestrained, and the theme of the book feels very true to the author. Johnny the Homicidal Maniac is literally a homicidal maniac and the story follows him in his adventures through what seems to be an even more insane world. What makes the story so interesting is that Johnny is essentially the hero, even though spends the novel slaughtering relatively innocent people. Johnny eventually has to battle with himself as what seems to be the manifestation of his insanity slowly creeps through his house and tries to overtake him. I’m not sure who’s side I was really on throughout the series – I enjoyed Johnny and didn’t really want to see him get any kind of retribution for his actions, but I was almost hoping for some kind of change in him. I think this one of Jhonen Vasquez’s better works, just because it seems less censored than some of his later stuff. Even the style feels very raw, as if it were drawn by a very angry person with a very angry pen.
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Grant Morrison’s, “Batman Arkham Asylum” was by far one of the most intense graphic novels I’ve read this semester. I wasn’t expecting much since the only exposure I’ve really had to batman was in the form of cartoons and cheesy 70’s movies. I was pleasantly surprised, though, both by the art and the story. The hand-painted look of the novel was a little jarring at first, however, it grew on me as the story progressed, and by the end I really felt that it couldn’t have been told as well without it. The dark smoky atmosphere that the world seems to exist in helps obscure details and really emphasizes the idea that the border between perception and reality is blurring. The more we are told about Arkham’s story, for example, the more each panel becomes less about detail and more about mood and abstraction of the feeling that the story is conveying. This was really nice to see, especially set next to a character like Batman that we know so well. I enjoyed the novel from start to finish. My only real hang-up was that the text was very small and oftentimes difficult to read. Other than that though, I thoroughly enjoyed it.