Archive for October, 2011

The Wonderful Stephen Sondheim in Conversation That Wasn’t Quite

30 October 2011

Stephen Sondheim not getting conversant tonight

Last night, I made a trip down to Orange County. Dined with my sister, her husband, our (and mom’s) close friend Michael. And went to see Stephen Sondheim in Conversation… well… almost.

Stephen Sondheim was scheduled to appear live at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa… but, due to massive snowstorms blanketing New York City, he wasn’t able to fly to California.

And, sans Sondheim, it all turned out really well.  (more…)

Comics Vocabulary: Multi-Panel Pan Sequence

28 October 2011

Three-panel pan sequence from Alan Moore's '1963' comic book Mystery Incorporated, published in 1993, art by Rick Veitch and Dave Gibbons

The “1963” image above got me thinking about multi-panel pan sequences in comic books and comic strips.

I bought Alan Moore’s “1963” Mystery Incorporated comic book in 1993, and enjoyed it without noticing the above panel. 1963 is Moore’s homage to (and parody of) the early 1960s Marvel Comics created mostly by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko. These comics included the beginnings of various costumed heroes that are now all over, including on movie screens. The big early 60s Marvel debuts include Spiderman, the Fantastic Four, Hulk, Iron Man, X-men and many others.  (more…)

Rereading Comics: Early Mike Mignola Sub-Mariner

18 October 2011

Three-panel sequence from Sub-Mariner back-up story from Marvel Feature, No. 15, written by Bill Mantlo, drawn by Mike Mignola

I came across an early story by Mike Mignola, who’s now among my favorite comic book artists. Before Hellboy and Screw-On Head, there was Prince Namor the Sub-Mariner.  (more…)

An Orgy of Bondage: 1948 Wonder Woman Comics

17 October 2011

Wonder Woman will tie up Giganta and then -- ?? From Wonder Woman No. 28, 1948, written by Charles Moulton, drawn by Harry G. Peter

I’ve been re-reading the comics of my misspent youth… and this week I came across the Wonder Woman story entitled Villainy, Incorporated. It was originally from Wonder Woman No. 28 in March/April 1948; the copy I have is a reprint in Adventure Comics No. 416, from 1972. Holy Dan Savage! It’s chock-full of bondage scenes… not quite overtly sexual, but damn close.  (more…)

Craig Thompson’s Lush New Comic Book Novel Habibi

13 October 2011

three panel sequence from Craig Thompson's Habibi

I just finished reading Habibi a new comic book novel by Craig Thompson. Thompson is one of the most masterful storytellers of the contemporary comics world. His work is very much for adults: no superheroes, mature themes (sex, religion), thoughtful, and moving. His novels are long and sweeping; Habibi is nearly 700 pages, every one of them precious.

His earlier semi-autobiographical novel Blankets is a favorite of mine, too, so I was eagerly awaiting the new piece. Habibi takes place in an unnamed middle eastern land. It’s the story of a young woman, Dodola, and her companion, Zam, also called Habibi. Dodola is sold into slavery, escapes, and runs away with Zam an abandoned child nine years younger than she. The two grow up taking care of each other, and their lives are intertwined throughout the novel.  (more…)

Rereading Comics: Goodwin and Simonson’s Manhunter

1 October 2011

Cover of Detective Comics No. 443 ‘Batman and Manhunter together for the first — and last — time?! Art by Jim Aparo

One of the comic series that I’ve enjoyed re-reading is Manhunter by Archie Goodwin and Walt Simonson.

The “All-New” Manhunter ran just seven episodes, as a back-up feature in DC’s Detective Comics issues 437 through 443, published bi-monthly November 1973 through November 1974.

Manhunter is definitely a super-hero comic book – not particularly deep or thought-provoking, but I think it’s a cut above the somewhat formulaic fare of its time. The writing is intelligent; the pace and plot are good. In many of the chapters, the timelines are non-linear (think Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction), with plenty of flashbacks and backstories filling in background for the reader. There are clever surprising plot twists and a bit of contrasting humor. The seven-chapter story is a cohesive, building whole.

And the art is excellent. Walt Simonson has a distinctive style – comic-y, but just a bit stylized. Simonson, a bit like his contemporary Paul Gulacy, playing with panel shapes, pans, overlaps, camera zooms, and more – in a way that can be described as cinematic… though tranalated into and enriching the visual language of comics. From the Manhunter series on, Simonson was an artist who I liked and followed… though it’s been a while, so I forget what all he drew. Thor and Metal Men, I recall, and plenty of covers. (more…)