Book: Alice in Sunderland by Brian Talbot

  • Mar. 28th, 2009 at 9:42 AM
my_daroga: Mucha's "Dance" (comic)
I tend to love the making of connections; I love watching a documentary about one thing that turns into a documentary about something else, or about making documentaries in general. That's why the collage-based Alice in Sunderland by British comics artist Brian Talbot intrigued me. It's an exploration not only of the origins of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland but of some of the places and people who inspired it and, as a comic, the comics medium itself. In that sense, it's a sort of combination of James Burke's tv show "Connections," Orson Welles' F for Fake, and Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics (he even has a cameo). Talbot explains the connections the northeast of England has to the famous work, as well as all tangential curiosities of the history, art, and culture of that region.

It's all supported by archival material, arranged in a 319 page, full-color comic book with Talbot's drawings as a guide. He touches on Carroll, medieval monks, music hall stars, current public art installations, invasion, storytelling, industry, and comics history. There's a happy mix of styles, depending on the subject; a section about "Jack Crawford, the hero of Camperdown" is illustrated like a boys' adventure comic. Some of these sections succeed better than others--I could have lived without a literal illustration of the "Cry God for Harry, England, and Saint George!" speech from Henry V. I mean literal as in "or close the wall up with our English dead" is accompanied by a picture of a man doing just that.

What I also could have lived without, and what makes me loathe to recommend the book to anyone but the most ardent fan of non-narrative fact-collages about Alice in Wonderland, is that most of the images and backgrounds are bad Photoshop-filtered photographs. It's obvious and ugly, and it makes no sense to me. The photos (of Alice, of locations, of whatever) would be far more interesting on their own. Do I need to see a bubbly, blurry version of the vintage material he found? I finished the book, because I was interested in the material, but in the end I'm disappointed by the aesthetic choices made. And in a book about the comics medium, not to mention the story of Alice, you really want to love how it looks.


my_daroga: Mucha's "Dance" (rogue)
*Last night, Mr. Daroga accidentally called Mr. Darcy "Orson." No, I have no idea, either. But it reminded us how unlikely it is that we will ever have a pet worthy of the name. It seems to me that the creature would have to have a certain quality to earn it--if not a certain bulk, which given our stern feeding/exercise regimen seems unlikely.

*Those of you who read my movie reviews: I've been perusing some other movie blogs, which seem much better put together and well-researched and well-read than mine. (I don't refer specifically to this LJ, which is a messy catch-all I'm currently feeling some angst about, but also to the film-only blog I copy all the reviews to.) This is largely due to laziness on my part, and a lack of sense of direction for it. I suppose I'd like to take this to another level, if possible, and this is where you can help:

Aside from writing more reviews, which I am aware I need to do, how can I improve my film writing? My reviews are usually concise, usually not very in-depth, and try to avoid spoilers. Other reviews talk more, or get more analytical, or seem punchier and more in-your-face in their opinions. What do you like in a film review? What do you get from mine? What would you like to see, or see more of? Is there some sign of perosnality behind them, or do I need to inject more? I'd love some honest feedback. If you don't have anything to say off the top of your head, consider this an invitation to comment on the reviews themselves next time you have a thought. I would love to discuss these films, or my writing about them, in greater depth. And I'd love to improve my writing. What am I missing? Or do I need to sprinkle my review posts with more in-depth, analytical or thematic posts on filmmaking or films?

*On another note entirely, an amusing tutorial for cartoonists (and others) about drawing natural-looking boobs. Mr. Daroga found this when... oh, never mind. It's from 2007, and has some spelling errors, but I thought it was funny. And it reminded me that despite the fact Bruce Timm's women are all as unnaturally tiny as his men are built like refrigerators, at least the girls aren't all built like porn stars on steroids, and some of them are built like me.

Oh yeah. Warning: boobs.

*This is old too, but if you haven't seen it Dr. Watson's Inner Monologue is a really stylish (and shippy) comic I was only recently introduced to. I love the muted colors and the weird stiltedness of it, and I think it's pretty. Watson's expressions are priceless.

*And a meme:

Ask me to take a picture of any aspect of my life that you're interested in/curious about - it can be anything from my DVD collection to my favorite pair of shoes. Leave your choice(s) here as a comment, and I will reciprocate by taking the pictures and posting them as an entry. That way you get to know a little bit about my life.

I take lots of photos, but there may be something I've mentioned you want to see more of--but keep it clean, kids.
my_daroga: Mucha's "Dance" (persian)

The image (minus one important addition, and it's not the text) comes from an old Japanese Batman comic, as reproduced in Bat-Manga. Does this remind you of anyone?

I really haven't been around lately, have I? I have about a week (give or take a few days) left before my master's degree is FINISHED, which I'm very excited about, except for the next week (give or take a few days) I have to live through. I will be very, very happy when this is all over. My MLS has been just about the most boring project I've ever embarked upon.

And I haven't really commented on anything political or pop-cultural because when I do have things to say, I've been saying them out loud. So you're missing it. Not that most of it's that exciting or pithy. In short: Bogdanovich's interviews of Orson in This is Orson Welles are some of the greatest things I've ever read, I am going to see Twilight, the new Star Trek trailer is APPALLING, I hate that it gets dark here now at 4:30, and [ profile] tkp is AWESOMESOCKS. I keep hoping I'll catch up on movie reviews and things, and write all those essays I always want to but am too lazy to actually write out.

Until then... there's Lord Death Man.

Link Roundup

  • Jul. 29th, 2008 at 8:44 AM
my_daroga: Mucha's "Dance" (julian)
Some items of potential interest:

*How Did Stan Lee Pour Himself Into Those Jeans on the Hooded Utilitarian's blog. It's about the "feminist" status of Mary Jane, but also about what it means to have one's heroes owned by corporations: "To fall in love with a character in a mainstream title is to be, inevitably, betrayed."

*Uncle Bobby's Wedding on myliblog. A librarian's eminently sensible response to a patron who wished to remove said children's book from the shelves. "Library collections don't imply endorsement; they imply access to the many different ideas of our culture, which is precisely our purpose in public life."

*And a little fun: the Seattle Times reports that Fans of "Twilight" vampire series pump new blood into Forks. Scary. " would not believe how many people come in here expecting to see a vampire. Or a werewolf. I am not kidding."

*Scott Walker performing "Rosary". I didn't know this existed. My husband and I are big Scott Walker fans, and Mr. Daroga just found this vid and this explanation:

"true story: for this performance, he was introduced, the audience clapped, they remove everyone from the set, they brought him in, recorded this song, then after he left the studio, they brought the audience back in and they applauded."

Walker is now apparently producing but not appearing in live shows of his music. He's an amazing artist, and somewhere in there is an amazing story that needs to be written about the course his life/music has taken.

Plight of the Phangirl, page 2

  • Dec. 2nd, 2007 at 10:54 AM
my_daroga: Mucha's "Dance" (comic)
Here it is, folks! Page 2, as fast as I can get it.
dun dun dun! )

Plight of the Phangirl, page 1

  • Nov. 29th, 2007 at 10:10 PM
my_daroga: Mucha's "Dance" (comic)
As you may know, [ profile] tkp now resides at whatever-we're-calling-my-house. You may not know that she is a secret Phantom of the Opera fan. Inspired by Mr. Daroga's high school collaborative comics, we decided to do a little experiment: each of us will draw a page of a comic about "ourselves" going back in time and landing in Phantom (like a real bad!fic!) and leave the word bubbles open for the other to fill in. And we do it one page at a time, so there's no planning and no telling where it'll go.

Here's page one.
Read more... )

accidental perfection

  • Jul. 3rd, 2007 at 8:08 AM
my_daroga: Mucha's "Dance" (comic)
Last night in bed, I spent several minutes staring at one panel of the graphic novel Blankets by Craig Thompson. For the purposes of my story, it doesn't really matter which panel it was--but if you're interested, it was the one which depicts the main character/narrator masturbating to a letter his would-be girlfriend from church camp sent. It is disturbing and sexual without being graphic, thematically due to the guilt he experiences after/during the act.

But that's not the point.

What had me staring was my inability to figure out what had me staring at it. The image was of a doubled-over, nude body, his left leg curving down slightly to complement the angry ink-stains which curved over the next image (likewise, a nude, but not explicit, male body). The book is upsetting all by itself, with intimations of abuse, difficult first love, and religious guilt. But this one image confused me somehow; it was rife with contradiction. I tried to explain it to Mr. Daroga, who had urged me to read it because it upset him so much he needed someone to share it.

What I tried to explain was that this image arrested me because I "couldn't understand how he had drawn it so perfectly." This, obviously, makes no sense, since anything he drew in this instance would be the right thing; but it was as if I saw the image as a constant element Thompson had teased out of the blank paper. It was not so much that he'd drawn it as he'd hewn the finished image from the ink. I couldn't see it as a collection of lines but rather an organic whole, and therefore I couldn't imagine how one would ever make all the little decisions that went into drawing it.

Even the next morning, I'm not making sense. I'm not sure it'd help to show you the picture, either, because I'm not sure it's about that particular image. What I'm trying to talk about is our experience of the "perfect" thing, the thing that hits you so hard that you can't accept that it was constructed from disparate elements. Maybe it's a song, or a painting, or a novel (or even a sentence). Maybe it's even a movie, though that's an especially difficult one since there are so many hands at work.

But have you ever encountered this perfect thing, whose existence seems impossible? What was it?


my_daroga: Mucha's "Dance" (books)
This graphic novel (sometimes known as a "comic") tells the story of Bechdel's (Dykes to Watch Out For) childhood, thematically focusing on her father's death, his dark secret, and how Bechdel and her father's lives are intertwined by literature and sexuality. It's a riveting book on its own, as Bechdel is a highly literate writer, but the art is what brings it all together. Her figures are natural and cartoony at once, striking a very good balance between realism and the kind of gap required to fully involve the reader. The whole book uses a blue watercolor wash which adds to an already quite textured black and white. It's serious and tragic and smart and funny at once, and I can't recommend it enough; I tore through it and am thinking of buying it. Bechdel's narrative of her father's place in her family is seamlessly integrated with an exploration of her sexuality; while that sounds awfully self-indulgent, it doesn't come off as detrimentally so. Her people are endearing enough that you care, too.

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my_daroga: Mucha's "Dance" (Default)
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