Should we bring the Morrison discussion over here now? I don't know how...

Views: 1246

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

That would be awesome. It could be part of a Weird Adventures book or something like that.

I read The Coyote Gospel again today, and I really liked it, but I almost thought it felt thin. I don't know, I remember liking it more the first time I read it. I like it still, I'm just trying to figure out what else I put into it before. Here's what I did like, though. I think this is the first time we ever see "God" in the version of Grant Morrison.Sure, we just see his legs and arms, but I wonder if this isn't the story he wrote where he got the idea for the big theme of this series and character. I guess that is kind of alluded to on the cover also, isn't it? I wonder how much of that was Brian Bolland and how much of it was Morrison. Personally, I would have liked to have seen Bolland's version of the Coyote!

And looking at this story in the "historical" context, I realize just how wildly original it was. And it was pretty daring of Morrison to barely even use Buddy Baker in here at all.

Also amazing is that I had never drawn a connection before now to the Astro City story featuring Leo the Lion (?). I'll have to dig that one out and look at it again.
JeffCarter saidThat would be awesome. It could be part of a Weird Adventures book or something like that.

I read The Coyote Gospel again today, and I really liked it, but I almost thought it felt thin. I don't know, I remember liking it more the first time I read it. I like it still, I'm just trying to figure out what else I put into it before.


Yeah, perhaps I'd use 'light' rather than 'thin'. That was my impression too, rereading it after all these years. It might be that it was incredibly original in a comic book back then, but it does feel like just a warm-up for his later stuff. He does say everything in a very easy to digest form. (Like he did with the first arc of Doom Patrol)


The tone of the story is affected by some of the source material. Heavy theological ponderings using the iconography of the Looney Tunes cartoons, so it feels as light as one of those 10 minute marvels of universal entertainment. Who hasn't laughed at a Road Runner or Bugs Bunny cartoon?

Here's what I did like, though. I think this is the first time we ever see "God" in the version of Grant Morrison.Sure, we just see his legs and arms, but I wonder if this isn't the story he wrote where he got the idea for the big theme of this series and character. I guess that is kind of alluded to on the cover also, isn't it? I wonder how much of that was Brian Bolland and how much of it was Morrison. Personally, I would have liked to have seen Bolland's version of the Coyote!

Morrison has said in interviews that this as the point where he escaped the influence of Alan Moore. DC were really looking for more Moores when they brought over the British wave of 2000AD writers. If you look at the omniscient narrator captions in the B'wana Beast sections in the previous 4 issues especially, they are very Moore-ish in their prose stylings. It was with this issue that Morrison starts to leave that behind and find his own voice. Its a key moment for him and for the series. You're right that the cover prefigures the series as a whole rather than the issue itself. How much did Bolland or Morrison know about the whole series when it was drawn?

It seems that DC decided to try him out with a 4-issue mini-series. As the first few issues came in (and perhaps as they got a hold of some of his 2000AD work) they realised that he might sustain a longer series. They probably wanted to see more themselves, never mind the market at the time! He says in his written piece in issue 2 that he was asked to do an ongoing series before he'd completed the first arc . (Is this in the collection? I'm reading old comics for this first TPB. I could stick up a PDF if it isn't.) He also more or less states that the Coyote Gospel gave him the direction of the whole series.

Interesting is that the very first issue has a panel with a spider in its web and Buddy in the background saying 'I feel like someone is pulling the strings...' It might have been a standard hint at approaching danger that writers throw into long runs, but in hindsight it looks like he is referring to his writer/creator; Buddy's first inkling of what is about to unfold.

And looking at this story in the "historical" context, I realize just how wildly original it was. And it was pretty daring of Morrison to barely even use Buddy Baker in here at all.
Amen to that! My own first encounter with the Coyote Gospel was through a housemate who wasn't a 'fanboy' but who liked to read some of my comics now and again. He went through a period of getting out of the Belfast rain by reading graphic novels in bookstores. He came home one day just raving about issue 5. It blew him away, and as for me, I tend to give more value to things that are related to me through my friends, so this particular story has fond memories for me.
Also amazing is that I had never drawn a connection before now to the Astro City story featuring Leo the Lion (?). I'll have to dig that one out and look at it again. Good call! That Lion character echoes Crafty in lots of ways. Although he too came 'up' from 2 dimensions to 3, he suffers for his own sins though, rather than others.

On that point, did you notice that Crafty refers to travelling 'up' from his reality to Animal Man's? I thought that was interesting given how many times this journey is played out (in both directions) in Morrison's work. In the Christian cosmology 'up' usually means an improvement/refinement. Hell-> Earth -> Purgatory -> Heaven. In Morrison's cosmology though, the journey upward seems to lead through more suffering.

Its the Innocence vs Experience thing again. Experience/true knowledge is good, but it takes a brave person to see things as they really are. And the journey is terrifying!
Thought I'd stick this up in the forum.

I've just bought 'Doom Patrol Vol II - The Painting that Ate Paris and I'm looking forward to reading it.

The Brotherhood of Dada, Monsieur Mallah and the Brain, other landmarks of good sense.

I'll be discussing it in the Morrison forum with whoever is interested once I get stuck into it.

It contains issues 26-34 of Morrison's run.
As long as I'm around, I'm up for talking about it. I read it less than a year ago. It's a great book--and actually much more straightforward than I thought it would be.
JeffCarter said:
As long as I'm around, I'm up for talking about it. I read it less than a year ago. It's a great book--and actually much more straightforward than I thought it would be.

I read it about the same time, so I'll probably chime in, too.
So ah ... any last words on Aztek, before he begins his slow descent into the furthest ungoogleable reaches of Ning?
Love him or hate him (and I do either love him or hate him), this morning I read Grant Morrison’s Doctor Who stories from the Doctor Who Classics tpb (Vol. 3) released earlier this week and found them the be some of the best Doctor Who stories I’ve read in comic book form.
Jeff of Earth-J said:
Love him or hate him (and I do either love him or hate him), this morning I read Grant Morrison’s Doctor Who stories from the Doctor Who Classics tpb (Vol. 3) released earlier this week and found them the be some of the best Doctor Who stories I’ve read in comic book form.

That's high praise. I've decided to get these stories in Panini reprints and I've also decided that its probably best to get them in order starting with the 4th Doctor. There is a lot of development of the same ideas, locations and characters that look like it'd be easier to follow in the correct order. The UK comics had their own little continuity going on. So it'll probably be a while before I read these.
It's back! - CONTINUING THE MORRITHON.

Doom Patrol Book 2 – The Painting that ate Paris

This was a really enjoyable volume. As I said earlier I'd read Doom Patrol before in back-issues and in no particular order, so it was good to see the stories unfold at Morrison’s chosen pace.

This volume is a hefty 9 issues, containing 2 ‘standard’ Doom Patrol tales of the unreal world breaking into the Patrol’s world and 2 outstanding single-issue stories – Going Underground, where Cliff travels deep into Crazy Jane’s damaged psyche – and The Soul of a New Machine, where some of the sub-text between Mallah and the Brain becomes, well, text!

First up:

The Painting that ate Paris
Part 1 – Nowhere Man.
(Issue 26)

I was pleased to see the short appearance of Sunburst, “Japan’s greatest superhero", who would go on to found Big Science Action – Japan’s premier giant monster-fighting superteam - and who appears in Final Crisis. The Japanese are characteristically ahead of the game here, as they already have reality shows following Sunburst around and maintaining his celebrity status. Remember this was published in 1989!

The Super Young Team in Final Crisis are this elevation of celebrity for its own sake taken to the ultimate extreme.

Someone interviewing Sunburst does bring up the objection to the idolisation of superheroes – “I wonder if all that violence is healthy.” A very valid point. Morrison’s Superman – esp his All-Star version is one of the few superheroes that try not to use violence at the first chance they get, unlike our own Cliff Steele, Robotman, who has specialised in brute force solutions from his very first appearance.

Then we meet Mr Nobody, putting together the new Brotherhood of Dada, as a replacement for the Brotherhood of Evil, who first fought the original Doom Patrol in only their 5th appearance. One of Mr Nobody’s attributes is that all the lost and forgotten “silly and useless things that people throw away, they all end up with me.”

A lot of Morrison’s work has been in digging up just these lost and forgotten concepts. Animal Man, the Doom Patrol itself, the Seven Soldiers of Victory etc etc. I particularly liked the ‘Bay City Rollers’ poster on the wall. I have a soft spot myself for exactly those kinds of things that were all the rage just before I reached an age where I could think about them properly. The artist depicts many weird old comics laying around Mr Nobody’s room, but such is the self-cannibalising nature of the industry that all of them have been disinterred and ‘revamped’ since this issue was published. Strange Adventures, Strange Tales, Prez and Shazam!

His origin is a marvel of overblown weirdness. He is actually Morden, a forgotten character who really was a member of the Brotherhood of Evil the first time they fought the DP. I’d only read that issue in the Showcase a few months ago, but I too had totally forgotten he had appeared. I had to look it up again to see that – yep – there he was. I loved that this patron saint of the lost and forgotten had begun life as one of the most forgettable characters I’d read recently.

Morden had fallen out with the rest of the Brotherhood and was forced to go into hiding in Peru with an old Nazi war criminal. A wonderful piece of revisionism that disagrees with what went on in the early comics not one whit! The Nazi offers to solve his problems and Morden, driven mad by boredom, accepts without too much questioning. Bad mistake. The Nazi sits him in an all-white spherical room and paralyses him from the neck down. After 3 days he has gone completely insane due to the lack of sensory input.

The artist used ‘close-up photocopies’ of the first frame to zoom in on Morden. Normally I hate this technique as it signals laziness on the artist’s part and is so artificial. Humans just don’t hold every muscle still even when they want to stand motionless. We are constantly adjusting our balance, refocusing our vision and resetting our faces. In this case however, it worked perfectly. Morden’s paralysis in this surreally never-changing environment was perfectly conveyed and even the way that ‘close up photocopies’ show up the brush-strokes to normally distracting effect worked well here. Morden became increasingly unreal as he lost grip with sanity.

There is a fantastic sequence where the infinitude of nothing is suddenly disturbed by a single dot in front of his eyes not much bigger than the period at the end of this sentence. Morden can’t tell if it’s a small thing very close or a large thing very far away. Eventually he decides that it’s probably a vast sentient intelligence thousands of miles across that will utterly consume his soul if it notices him.

Then he completely explodes and Mr Nobody steps out of his room.

That’s all pretty original, and rounds off an issue which, even though it is only the first installment of a four-parter, feels complete and very full. Rhea’s coma subplot moves forward a little and there is set-up for the Crazy Jane single issue coming up too.

Get behind me, ‘Writing for the Trade’!!
Figs said: "I've decided to get these stories in Panini reprints and I've also decided that its probably best to get them in order starting with the 4th Doctor."

There were only three Grant Morrison Doctor Who stories (that I know of), a one-parter, a two-parter and a three-parter, all presented in color (but a smaller size than the Panini editions) in the IDW trades. At first I couldn't figure out why IDW jumped the gun with these three stories, the first featuring the Sixth Doctor, the second featuring the Seventh, and the third the Sixth again, and why they ordered them out of chonoligical sequence. The first two Doctor Who Classics tpbs are all Fourth Doctor as the the second half of the third. I suspect it's because they are collecting they're limited series in tpb form, and in addition to their Doctor Who Classics series they've also released a two-issue Grant Morrison's Doctor Who.

Regarding which to buy (decisions, decisions), I've decided to go with IDW's smaller color reprints for the Fourth Doctor, then switch to Panini's larger black and white reprints for all subsequent Doctors.
DOOM PATROL VOL II (cont)

The Painting that Ate Paris.

Part 2. (issue 27)

Another incident filled issue. Mr Nobody explains the secret history of the titular painting to his now-complete Brotherhood, they steal the painting from a chateau in the French Alps, then take it to Paris where the police interrupt their presentation of it to a crowd of bystanders. Finally through the means of extempore Dadaist poetry, they activate the painting, causing it to swallow Paris and themselves into its painted world.

The history of the painting begins with a conversation between Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Thomas De Quincy on Coleridge's beloved Lake District. I love the way references like this expand the world of the story. When the only references in your story are to other comics - that often are themselves about earlier comics... - then you are in a rapidly contracting world. As it is the paintings history takes in people such as Oscar Wilde as well as Morrison's own creations like Horst Eissmann 'Connoisseur of the curious'.


We then get a shift to Rebis the negative man in hir room pondering the Russian dolls she used to collect. Morrison's use of these moments to explain the esoteric meaning of his stories are getting more cryptic. Rebis isn't able to explain the rush of ideas going through hir head so we get garbled talk of isomorphic mapping, where identical copies are made in a recursive cycle, each contained in the one before. This is how the painting works later on. With infinite layers each a representation of the previous one.

Larry is also getting insight into the Doom Patrol's own world. 'We inhabit a virtual universe'.

He also mentions ‘These new perceptions... synaesthetic flood of ideas.’

Synaesthesia is the seemingly contradictory perception of sounds as forms and colours, for instance, or colours as musical notes, or the texture of something being perceived as a smell, and so on.


Thankfully Morrison doesn't just let Rebis browbeat us with his philosophical conundrums, but actually illustrates them in the story he's telling. The very next page of the story leads into the Brotherhood's stealing of the painting from Eissmann's chateau. Herr Eissmann happens to have two guests at this point. One of them is Dr Silence, who wears a mask.

'Such is the nature of my disease,' he apologises, 'that I would die if I ever saw my face.'

Morrison is doing something strange here (surprise, surprise!) Dr Silence appears to be the embodiment of the old riddle – “When I’m here you can’t hear me. Say my name and I disappear!”

It was used to great effect in the Italian holocaust movie ‘Life is Beautiful’. Here, however, ‘Silence’ will cease to exist when he sees his own face, rather than hear his name. It’s confusing. What if he heard his own face? Or saw his own name? Synaesthesia in action!

The Brotherhood of Dada activate the painting in the final section of the story. They do this in the heart of Paris, city of art and artists.

Their confrontation with some heavy-handed French officers of the law is very funny. “I’m afraid I don’t understand anything you say! I don't speak Fascist!” declares Mr Nobody at one point, before throwing a dead chicken at their feet and the Quiz turns the most thuggish of them into a toilet filled with flowers. (There's a super-power you've never thought of!)

After that it just takes a recitation of Mr Nobody’s beat poem Peruvian Red Railway to activate the painting and suck all of Paris, and themselves, into it.

Cool!
The Painting that Ate Paris. Pt III.
Labyrinths.

(Issue 28)


Summary: The Doom Patrol enter the multiple worlds of the painting and get their collective keister handed to them by the Brotherhood of Dada.



Commentary - In which we see a justification perhaps for the repetitive use of the 'fictional world breaking into our own' motif throughout the run.

We talked about the crossovers that never were earlier in the discussion, but this issue opens with the closest we'll ever get to a team-up between Morrison's Doom Patrol and his Animal Man. The first scene features the three goofiest members of the Geffin Justice League: Booster Gold, the Blue Beetle and Animal Man, standing in front of the painting on a vast empty plain, wondering what happened to Paris. It seems Justice League Europe's Paris headquarters were also eaten up.

(I've just realised that the painting has eaten one of the world's most food-obsessed, gourmet-dining capitals. Taste the irony!)

"Um, Hi there!" says good old Buddy Baker, "You must be Robotman?"

"And you must be the guy that states the obvious," comes Cliff's typically abrasive reply.

This, sadly, is the extent of their team-up.

With their experience dealing with the bizarre and the surreal, and with Rebis' increasing insight into other realities and states of being, the Doom Patrol succeed and are able to enter the painting where the Justice Leaguers could only stand and gawp.

Once in the painting, we get to see yet another bizarre fictional world that threatens to take over our own reality. This world is entirely visual in nature. When you compare the worlds within the painting with Orqwith, the fictional world in the first arc, it begs the question, whether a painting is also a fiction of sorts.

Photo-realism isn't fiction, you might suppose – what you see is what you get, after all. Well, it turns out that the painting has many layers, each containing a world depicted in a different art style. In a way the world on each layer is the art style.

The photo-realistic layer is one of the first that the team encounter, and they note that it seems ‘flat and soulless’. The world we live in isn’t really ‘flat and soulless’, so photo-realism isn’t exactly a truthful depiction of our world. A deeper layer shows a Futurist world where lines and light and abstract shapes synaesthetically try to capture the noise and sounds and speed and excitement of city living. In some ways this is a more ‘truthful’ depiction of a modern city than photo-realism.

Further layers show worlds depicted impressionistically, or surreally, or symbolically. In their ways they are all just as ‘truthful’ as photo-realism, capturing moods, imaginary states or universal Jungian unconscious narratives as they do. Conversely, ‘photo-realism’ is just as dependent on certain tropes and conventions as the more abstract schools of art when you think about it. Depicting 3 dimensions on a two-dimensional surface is essentially lying!

Musings like this give us another way of looking at the ‘fictional’ worlds that keep trying to break through in Morrison’s run of Doom Patrol. Perhaps these fictions have as much ‘truth’ as our reality does when depicted by the various art-schools represented in the different layers of the Painting that Ate Paris. The horrible worlds from whence the Doom Patrol's adversaries come are our own world seen from a different perspective.

There is a lot of reference to insanity and mental problems, schizophrenia and depression throughout the run. Perhaps we are seeing our world as sufferers of these conditions might see them, Scissormen and all…

In any case Morrison has said that he sees superhero comics as being a symbolic representation of the struggles and hardships we all face every day, and the qualities we have to draw on to overcome these. Thus they are a kind of factual documentary in symbolic form. He called The Invisibles a kind of diary of what he was living through at the time. Doom Patrol itself is, amongst other things, a journal of the various books and avante gard films that Morrison was mulling over at this time, transformed into a superhero comic.

So truth and fiction are being constantly compared, blended together and broken down in this run of Doom Patrol and here Morrison is using the history of art to discuss some of the fault lines and the blurred common ground between the two. Fiction is Truth! There is no way to depict the world as it really is without depending on some artificial technique to do so... Like the different art schools did.

Given that comics is just as much a visual medium as a ‘literary’ one, it’s strange that the techniques of hundreds of years of Western and other art aren’t used more in comicbook storytelling.

Reply to Discussion

RSS

Welcome!

No flame wars. No trolls. But a lot of really smart people.The Captain Comics Round Table tries to be the friendliest and most accurate comics website on the Internet.

SOME ESSENTIALS:

RULES OF THE ROUND TABLE

MODERATORS

SMILIES FOLDER

TIPS ON USING THE BOARD

FOLLOW US:

OUR COLUMNISTS:

Groups

© 2019   Captain Comics, board content ©2013 Andrew Smith   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service