Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Gonna ramble now, about different stuff.

Good news for those of us who are fans of Bill Willingham's Fables, straight from the man himself, courtesy of Graeme McMillian. Thanks for pointing it out; I rarely visit Willingham's page even though I've linked to it.

In fact, this is a big reason why I couldn't have the same kind of blog that Graeme, Dirk Deppey and others have- I just don't visit all the myriad news sites all that often. In fact, I just viewed a site this morning that informed me that Bad Girls, a title that I (and about a half dozen other people nationwide, apparently) buy had been cut back from a six-issue miniseries to five issues due to poor sales. Shame- that's one less Darwyn Cooke cover. Also I saw a review of a title that looked pretty interesting, called Three Strikes from Oni Press that I wasn't even aware of. I don't know if it's come out yet, or anything. According to the Oni website, this first issue was set to come out back in April! This is why I'm always missing out on first issues of interesting titles and having to go to great lengths and expense to find them after getting interested after issue 3 or somesuch. Oh well. Maybe there will be a trade I can't afford.

Alex Ross recieved such unanimous praise for his hyper-realistic, iconic portrayal of superheroes a few years ago, and is still so highly regarded, that it should come as no surprise that there's a strong backlash-type sentiment among many. One example that I'm a little dubious about is Dave Fiore's inferred comparison of Ross to Leni Riefenstahl, whose filmmaking cast the Third Reich in a heroic light, on the occasion of the publication of the hardcover collection Mythology: The DC Comics Art of Alex Ross. The thinking behind this seems to be that it's somehow wrong or misguided to portray super hero characters in such a reverential light, that perhaps Ross is explicitly trying to inspire literal hero worship or even (I'm assuming) an even more sinister agenda. I don't really think Ross has such a specious intent; I think he's simply able to convey that sense of wonder that all of us (I assume) felt when we first encountered the super hero comic, especially as realized by those most iconic of comic book artists, Jack Kirby and arguably Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson. A case in point is my favorite panel from Kurt Busiek and Ross's Marvels, which depicts Giant-Man (a favorite character of mine when I was a child) in a ground-up perspective shot striding between buildings, and people looking up in amazement. This appeals to me on several levels- as the child who grooved on ol' High-Pockets, as the wannabe artist who admires how this perspective shot accurately depicts the awe and wonder of seeing a 15 foot tall man, and if I'm being manipulated into regarding this spandex-clad funnybook character (contemptable in itself by some standards, I suppose) as somehow heroic and admirable, and "cool" in that 12-year-old sense, and for some reason that's "wrong", then I suppose I'm guilty as charged.

I've always seen Ross's meticulous painting style as a logical extension of work by people like Gray Morrow, Wally Wood or Alex Toth, who depicted these costumed people in a more realistic (in Toth's case, anyway, highly stylized) fashion. One of the best things about Morrow's art, in particular, was how he bothered to draw boots and gloves like real boots and gloves, for example. I think many readers, after seeing these sort of depictions always had an urge to see this realism taken to the next level, and Ross came along and served that wish quite well.

Myself, I like Ross' work very much, and I like to think I'm a rational adult- but I never have included him on my list of favorites, and if I did it would be in the lower reaches of the list. His art is amazing on a lot of levels, but there's a dry studiedness about it that keeps me from totally embracing it. So this is not coming from your typical Ross fanatic. But geez, Dave- if you don't like Ross' art that's perfectly fine...this is America and all that. But to ascribe implied fascism to his work is a bit extreme and I honestly don't think that's what he's all about. And Dave, lest you think I'm calling you out or something, I totally agreed with the rest of your post about Claremont's X-Men.

I guess I gotta cut this ramble short. I still want to write about more stuff, like good ol' Chuck Barris always used to say on the Gong Show, but it will have to wait till later.

Sayonara for now!

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