More Crossed Plus 100 Questions

14 May 2015 by

Readers solved many of the comics annotation reference mysteries I put out in this February 2015 post. A couple more issues of Alan Moore and Gabriel Andrade’s Crossed Plus One Hundred have hit the stands; I have posted annotations for No.3 here and No.4 here. But there are things I haven’t figured out, so I am going to toss out some more questions to readers.

Movie theater marquee from CPOH No.3, Page 14, panel 1 - art by Gabriel Andrade

Movie theater marquee detail from CPOH No.3, Page 14, panel 1 – art by Gabriel Andrade

1. What does the Chooga movie marquee say?

In Crossed Plus One Hundred No. 3, there’s a movie marquee in the human settlement in the year 2108 Chattanooga that has some letters left over from when it last showed films in the year 2008. It’s clear that one of the films was “Mama Mia!” which was released July 18th, 2008. On the right side of the marquee it says “_WR__R_” and “_LO_REI_” which should also be partial names of 2008 films. The “LO_REI” one could more-or-less be “Cloverfield” released January 2008, and suitably apocalyptic to match the CPOH world. I haven’t found anything else these might stand for. They’re probably the names of 2008 films, though they could say something like “coming soon,” “double feature,” “air conditioned”, or “eat popcorn”. Any ideas?

Images of 2008's The Surprise from the first pages of CPOH No.4 - art by Gabriel Andrade

Images of 2008’s The Surprise from the first pages of CPOH No.4 – art by Gabriel Andrade

2. Are these The Surprise scenes from earlier Crossed comics?

Crossed Plus One Hundred No.4 opens up with three pages showing what was happening a hundred years ago during “The Surprise” – the initial 2008 Crossed epidemic outbreak. The first panel shows Andrade’s version of an airplane crash that took place in the very first Garth Ennis / Jacen Burrows issue of Crossed. The subsequent panels show fairly specific scenes (in snow, in Japan) that I suspect are from other Crossed comics that I haven’t read yet. Any Crossed readers out there recognize these images?

3. Outstanding questions from earlier issues  Read the rest of this entry »

19-Month-Old Maeve Is A Climber

9 May 2015 by
Maeve climbing at Shatto Park

Maeve climbing at Shatto Park

I’ve been meaning to post some recent images of our daughter… but between work and parenting and doing a little art and writing about comics on the side, I don’t post often enough. Maeve is 20 months old, and, of course, growing and changing daily. Over the past couple months it seems like she’s been more active, more coordinated and more fearless about climbing up things, especially at the park.  Read the rest of this entry »

Mini Sneak Peek at Upcoming Crossed Plus One Hundred Gabriel Andrade Art

3 May 2015 by
Gabriel Andrade at work inking pages of Crossed Plus One Hundred. Image via GA Facebook

Gabriel Andrade hard at work inking pages of Crossed Plus One Hundred all night. Image via GA Facebook, his caption:  “7am, eyes swollen”

With four issues of six out, and plenty of ominous foreshadowing, Crossed Plus One Hundred is nearing the end of Gabriel Andrade’s and Alan Moore’s run. I was alread a big Moore fan, and am really enjoying Andrade’s art too. I’ve been annotating the CPOH issues and covers out so far, and reading through some Crossed comics antecedents, and exploring Moore’s Lovecraft-inspired works in advance of Providence.

I was happy to spot a couple of photos on Gabriel Andrade’s Facebook page that are pretty clearly nearly-completed artwork for an upcoming issue of Crossed Plus One Hundred. Enough to tide us CPOH fans over until the next issue appears, No. 5, probably in May or June 2015.  Read the rest of this entry »

Ralph 124C 41+ Puts the Science in Science Fiction

1 March 2015 by
Cover of Ralph 124C 41+

Cover of Ralph 124C 41+ by Hugo Gernsback, illustration by Frank R. Paul

I just finished reading Hugo Gernsback’s early science fiction novel Ralph 124C 41+: A Romance of the Year 2660.

As of a couple months ago I hadn’t heard of this book, though it was initially serialized beginning in 1911.

I found out about it by reading the comic book Crossed Plus One Hundred (CPOH) by Alan Moore and Gabriel Andrade. The first issue of Crossed Plus One Hundred is titled “124C41+”. On the first read through, I didn’t even notice the title, located at the bottom of a splash page with a narrator introducing a steam-punk skeleton-piled future world. Ralph 124C 41+ is mentioned a few times in the issue. I later began annotating CPOH, and in the process Googled “124C41+” and that lead me to understanding what the reference was, and, later, heading to the L.A. Public Library to check it out and read it.

Let me say here, that I am going to do a spotty review of Ralph 124C 41+, mostly as it relates to CPOH and Alan Moore. If you’re looking for a good thorough review of Ralph 124C 41+ maybe read SF Site, The Economist, or Twenty First Century Books, or see its instructive page on Wikipedia.

The author Hugo Gernsback (1884-1967) is the eponymous Hugo behind science fiction’s Hugo awards. According to Wikipedia, he was an inventor, a radio and electronics enthusiast. He went on to publish the first science fiction magazine. Reading Ralph 124C 41+, it’s clear that Gernsback is more taken with science than he is with fiction. Gernsback more thoroughly imagines and describes technological advances than he does plot or character. It’s not bad, definitely worth reading, but it’s not great literature.

In fact it seems to me that this is one of the works that gives the science fiction genre its name. It could have been called future fiction, speculative fiction, super fiction, etc. In CPOH, Moore calls it Wishful Fiction. Not all science fictions is about science, the way Ralph is. Sci-fi authors I’ve read, including Octavia Butler, Ursula K. LeGuin, Ray Bradbury, and Robert Heinlein, seem more interested in what sci-fi says about humanity than what it says about science.

There were earlier pieces written in what would become the sci-fi genre (Frankenstein, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea) but it is Gernsback’s science-infatuation that ends up giving us the name of the genre. Gernsback, as an editor/publisher, came up with the name “scientifiction” which later became science fiction.

The title character Ralph is “one of the greatest living scientists” hence of ten great men (yah, no girls allowed in 1911’s 2660) allowed to put a “+” after their names. Ralph “the scientist, man of action” is the star, who can seemingly invent anything at the drop of a hat, and “[b]eing a true scientist, Ralph wanted to make his own dangerous experiments.”  Read the rest of this entry »

Photoshoot by the L.A. River, September 2014

19 February 2015 by
Our family at the Los Angeles River, September 2014, photo by Matt Grashaw

Our family at the Los Angeles River, September 2014, photo by Matt Grashaw

I never got around to posting these excellent photos we took last year – September 30, 2014. Carrie used them for our holiday cars last December. The photographer is Matt Grashaw, who we met on a Glendale bakery walk hosted by Walk Bike Glendale. He is great, and highly recommended. (We just did another shoot with him, and I’ll post some more photos soon.)

MG2014A

September 2014

MG2014B

September 2014

More pictures after the jump.  Read the rest of this entry »

More Crossed Plus 100 References and Some Questions

15 February 2015 by

In my spare time, I’ve been enjoying annotating some of Alan Moore’s comics. Alan Moore writes great stuff, with lots of references to pop culture, literature, other comics, etc.

People actually publish books (and, more often these days, create websites), that are basically companion volumes, pointing out all of the references he has crammed into his most highly referential series including The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Top Ten, and Watchmen.

Below are two examples of the latest references I’ve been tracking down for Crossed Plus One Hundred (CPOH), a new comics series written by Alan Moore and drawn by Gabriel Andrade. Crossed are basically depraved zombies. Not my favorite genre, but in Moore and Andrade’s hands, it works. CPOH is a look at what a post-apocalyptic future might look like after a hundred years from now. See this earlier post for three more CPOH references.

There are a series of CPOH variant cover images called “future tense.” Each image is a homage to a science fiction book. Below is Gabriel Andrade’s future tense cover for CPOH4, and the book cover it references A Canticle For Leibowitz.

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Crossed Plus One Hundred No.4 future tense cover, art by Gabriel Andrade (left) and its source 1950s sci-fi novel A Canticle For Leibowitz

And here’s the future tense cover from CPOH5 and the 1950s book cover it references, Tiger! Tiger! (aka The Stars My Destination.)

Crossed Plus One Hundred No.5 future tense cover, art by Gabriel Andrade (left) and its source 1950s sci-fi novel Tiger! Tiger!

Crossed Plus One Hundred No.5 future tense cover, art by Gabriel Andrade (left) and its source 1950s sci-fi novel Tiger! Tiger!

Even after scouring the internet, reading, and re-reading each issue, there are still quite a few references I can’t figure out. At the time of this writing, there are only two (of six) issues released (plus future covers at Avatar Press.) These references may be made clearer as other issues come out… and there will probably be a whole raft of new references I am looking to track down as new issues hit the shelves.

Readers – take a look a the list below and see if you can help me figure these out. Read the rest of this entry »

Richard Thompson’s Lovely 1952 Vincent Black Lightning

13 February 2015 by
Richard Thompson Rumor and Sigh album cover via Wikipedia

Richard Thompson Rumor and Sigh album cover via Wikipedia

I don’t usual post popular musical stuff at this blog, but my wife and I were driving (yes, driving) last week, and a Richard Thompson song (I Feel So Good) came on the radio, I think KCRW. We both started talking about Richard Thompson, who she’s seen live, and how much we liked his 1991 album “Rumor and Sigh.”

Especially the song 1952 Vincent Black Lightning. (Video below)

So, this being the 21st century, I found a recording of it on youtube. It brought tears to my eyes to listen.

I am a bicyclist… with little to no affinity for motorcycles… but this song still really appeals – love, tragedy, a sweet humanly-strained vocal, arranged very simply, and plenty of clever rhymes including this, slightly awkward, slightly wonderful one:

that’s a fine motorbike
a girl could feel special on any such like

I like that the policeman ultimately looks out for the dying outlaw, too – in that the police sergeant contacts his wife when he’s dying.  Read the rest of this entry »

Comics Vocabulary: Page-Turn Reveal

6 February 2015 by
The set-up for a page-turn reveal. Crossed Plus One Hundred No.2 Page 3, panel 5 detail. Written by Alan Moore, drawn by Gabriel Andrade

The set-up for a page-turn reveal: Cautious Optimism Kriswyczki sees “something” that readers don’t see until we turn the page. The full reveal is shown below. Click on any image to enlarge. Crossed Plus One Hundred No.2 Page 3, panel 5 detail. Written by Alan Moore, drawn by Gabriel Andrade

(Spoiler Note: very minor Crossed Plus One Hundred spoiler after the jump)

I enjoy exploring the story-telling vocabularies that are unique to comics. Many of these are explored in Scott McCloud‘s comic Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art and his follow-up books, also Will Eisner‘s book Comics and Sequential Art. Those books are excellent, and look at broader sweeping subjects like time; I can get into seemingly trivial panel-by-panel detail, though.

Earlier I’ve written about comics multi-panel pans (also called a polyptich or super-panel – which I compiled a hundred year index of examples), fixed-camera sequences, how covers work, and even how Art Spiegelman plays tricks with comics vocabulary.

Lately I’ve been geeking out annotating Alan Moore comics: recently Splash Brannigan and underway now Crossed Plus One Hundred. In the first two issues of CPOH, Moore has been using a clever trick that plays with the action of turning the page.

I am going to call this comics vocabulary a “Page-Turn Reveal.”

How a page-turn reveal works: At the bottom right of the first page, there’s some hint of what’s coming. Generally some character sees something that the reader doesn’t see yet. Then the reader turns the page and sees what the character has already seen. For a full-on page turn reveal, the first page is an odd page, so the bottom right panel precedes a page-turn. Often the second (even) page is a larger panel, or even a full page panel or a 2-page spread.

Note that these reveals are a three-dimensional experience a little bit difficult to convey clearly via the two-dimensional computer screen blog. I guess I could film turning the actual page to really tell this story better… but I’ll do the best I can here.

These page-turn reveals seem unique to comics. In other page-turning media, say novels (non-graphic – just text), the pagination is such that the author doesn’t really know where the page turn will occur. The exception to this is chapter-to-chapter transitions, which are sometimes page-turn reveals.

In some ways, maybe page-turn reveals are slightly analogous to a cliffhanger to-be-continued ending in any episodic media: comic books, comic strips, serialized literature, TV, radio, probably others. But it’s a somewhat low-stakes version of a cliffhanger-episode-ending, because the reveal comes just a page later; the comics reader doesn’t have to wait for the next episode. They’re slightly reminiscent of the way a TV show might do something suspenseful just before an advertising break, in order to keep the audience tuned in, then reveals something after the break.

Though these page-turn reveals have probably been around a while, I suspect that they’ve been fairly sparse. One big reason for this is commercial. The comics of my 1970s youth had plenty of advertisement pages. In many cases, comics artists and writers probably couldn’t count on a given page-turn to not be rearranged by re-pagination in a case where a publisher decided to make some change to the way the ads were inserted.

I suspect that the interspersed ads also inhibited 2-page layouts that span the central page fold. Though those are also somewhat limited by printing technology that couldn’t assure that the left and right images would line up precisely. The exception to this would be the fold in the very middle of the issue.

The exceptions to these historic pagination uncertainties are the first three pages. Page one of an issue is traditionally a full-page single-panel splash page. Pages 2 and 3 typically did not include ads. So, occasionally, earlier comics creators used page 1-3 for a page-turn reveal.

The artist who comes to mind who exploits the page-turn from page one to two is Jack KirbyRead the rest of this entry »

Spotting Some Crossed Plus One Hundred References

28 December 2014 by
Crossed Plus One Hundred No.1, future tense variant cover (left) which is an homage to Ralph 124c 41+ cover (right.)

Crossed Plus One Hundred No.1, future tense variant cover (left) which is an homage to Ralph 124c 41+ cover (right.)

As I wrote about in this earlier post, I’ve been going through Alan Moore‘s new comic Crossed Plus One Hundred and annotating it. For folks interested in the details of CPOH, see my annotations and glossary pages. I thought I’d post three of the more visual gems I found. Click on any of the images to see larger versions.  Read the rest of this entry »

Decoding Alan Moore’s Crossed Plus One Hundred 2108-Speak

17 December 2014 by
Alan Moore portrait in Promethea No. 30 - art by J.H. Williams III

Alan Moore portrait in Promethea No. 30 – art by J.H. Williams III

I am a huge Alan Moore fan. In case readers are unfamiliar with him, Moore is a comic book author who has been basically re-inventing what comics can be.

I wrote about my Moore fandom here in 2011. Basically I think he has one foot in the superhero comics I grew up reading and one foot in a much more sophisticated comic book literature that interests me today. Moore more-or-less got fed up with the comic book industry and pretty much retired from comics around 2006. This left hardcore fans like me to re-read his old stuff… which is rewarding, because, like a lot of great artwork, it holds up well to repeated readings. I often notice subtler details and references that I missed in earlier readings.

This month, Alan Moore’s work returned to the new comic book shelves with the first issue of Crossed Plus One Hundred. Judging just the first of six planned issues, I will say that it looks like CPOH is not Moore’s greatest work. It’s basically a zombie story that takes place in a post-apocalyptic Mad Max future.

So far, what’s most fun about CPOH is Alan Moore’s playful take on what language will sound like in 2108. Moore has played with future speak before. Here’s some dialogue from Moore’s sci-fi The Ballad of Halo Jones which began publication in 1984:

You’ll both wind up crumped in a side-artery! (Page 3, panel 3 from the first Halo Jones episode)

And, from a Spawn/WildC.A.T.S. team-up published in 1996, here’s dialogue from a future version of a character named Zealot who has traveled back to the present day:

Wow! I can’t boot this. We’re really in the Halo Building and it’s all in one piece. It’s wholly ineffable! (Page 21 panel 1 from the collection Wild Worlds)

Back to Crossed Plus One Hundred, Moore posits that human language in 2108 will be about as different from contemporary English as contemporary English is from Shakespeare’s English. Yes, you can still make out what people are saying, but it’s sometimes confusing and disorienting. Some reviewers, including my wife Carrie, found some of the future-speak difficult to understand. Some reviewers praised it. Some of it is kind of impenetrable on first read. Here’s one opaque example:  (Sorry even more confusing out of context)

And you’re rashed at me, so I don’t opsy Jackson. Crunk caspers you, maybe.

Crossed Plus One Hundred No.1 Page x panel x. Written by Alan Moore, drawn by Gabriel Andrade.

Crossed Plus One Hundred No.1 Page 14 panel 4. Written by Alan Moore, drawn by Gabriel Andrade.

I am just going to leave that one for a bit (maybe use my glossary if you want to decipher.)

Here’s another CPOH example — an exchange between two characters named Cautious and Future: (Yes – the younger characters have non-traditional names, reminiscent of the way early American protestants would name their kids Silence and Prudence.)

Cautious: No. The logic’s oh-eight. We lossed all our information. What kind of mother does that?

Future: Cautious, you’re petrol.

What does it all mean? Translation after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »


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