Partially due to my shock at the amount of stuff I had to box up and transport to Australia, and partially out of budgetary measures, I joined the library shortly after landing in Brisbane.

 

The city-wide system is pretty well-stocked with graphic novels and trade paperbacks, so I've been able to continue following some characters and teams that wouldn't have been quite worth buying the monthlies of.  I've also been able to dive into a few series that I've heard a bit about, but never got around to reading.  I've concentrated on books from the Big Two because there's a lot of stuff there that I haven't read.

 

Some of these books I'm only reading because they are part of the 'grand narratives' of their respective universes, and a lot of their deficiencies jump out at me.  See if you can spot when I get to those...

 

1 call number:YA GRAPHICNOV ID:34000066490616
Alec : the King Canute crowd / Eddie Campbell.
Campbell, Eddie.
due:23/12/2008,23:59

 

It took me a while to start using the ordering system, so at first I was happy to pick up whatever was on the shelf that took my fancy.  Campbell is a creator I have huge respect for, even though I haven't shelled out too much of my dosh buying his stuff.  The last book of his I got was called The Dance of Lifey Death and one story was about a particular round-the world trip he made at one point to push his books.  I was amused to see that at the end he comes gratefully back to a little Queenslander style house in Brisbane and his Australian wife, so I have that much in common with him at least.

 

Anyway, The King Canute Crowd is a semi-autobiographical collection of anecdotes about Cambell's time amongst the colourful characters of the King Canute pub, outside the centre of London.

 

I found it fascinating, because Campbell was trying to do something that I've wondered about for a while.  How do you convert the experience of living and socialising into a comicbook?  People come and go from the story without much artistic 'sense' and the fact that these are mostly drinking stories mean that the actual characters and dialogue often don't make much sense.  Most of my own happiest times have been in the pub or 'enjoying a few' with friends, so it brought back a lot of memories.  Alcohol can add a lot of 'significance' to the most mundane of encounters and Campbell captures that too.

 

Then there is the fact that it is very autobiographical.  Campbell calls the main character Alec, but everything else seems pretty close to what happened.  This does mean that he has to respect the privacy and dignity of the characters in the story, so we see that some events with certain people are shown as important but we only have a sketchy idea of what is going on.  There is a woman that Alec becomes fascinated by, but she seems to have some kind of tragedy in her past that isn't expanded on.  Alec's best friend in the book, a highly intelligent charismatic working class forklift driver, has some kind of bust-up with Alec at the end, but again Campbell is too respectful of the real-life person to flesh it all out.

 

If you can stand a meandering slice of life that doesn't really go anywhere, this is a great book.  Campbell really pushes how far you can go to make a period of your life into some kind of shape that the feel of it can be translated into 'art'.

 

I think the sequel to this - the further adventures of Alec is contained in the collection 3-piece Suite.  I'll have to get my hands on it someday.

Views: 513

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

"The celebrated sequence from November 1976 that shows a zoom in from Joannie Caucus' empty bed across town to her smiling in bed beside a sleeping Rick Redfern was very powerful, given how difficult her life was and how hard she found it to enjoy herself."

I remember that bit. The Globe wouldn't run the strip that showed them in bed together.
The Baron said:
"The celebrated sequence from November 1976 that shows a zoom in from Joannie Caucus' empty bed across town to her smiling in bed beside a sleeping Rick Redfern was very powerful, given how difficult her life was and how hard she found it to enjoy herself."

I remember that bit. The Globe wouldn't run the strip that showed them in bed together.

Was there much hoo haa about it?

Is that the Boston Globe? I thought Boston was a fairly liberal town. But 1976 was quite a while ago...

I just wonder what the readers thought was going on in the week leading up to the offending panel. Trudeau was pushing the boundaries of reader attention there, as well as acceptability.
At the time Doonsbury may have been on the comics page. It's reasonable for newspapers to keep the comics page kid-friendly.
The amazing Spider-Man. Brand new day. [vol. 1] / writer[s], Dan Slott... [et al. ; artists], Phil Jiminez ... [et al.].
Slott, Dan.
6 Mar 2009

I was really looking forward to this and really enjoyed it. It seemed like both a return to the basic principles of a Spider-man story - the rent, the photography, the social circle - and an injection of fresh new ingredients such as the well-drawn new supporting cast members and new villains. I liked that I finally saw the context that the Free Comicbook day Spider-man/Jackpot adventure took place in.

I didn't have a horse in the 'Deal with the Devil' race. After the depths the character had been taken before this - Gwen and Osbourne, the Clone Saga - keeping his old aunt alive by the intervention of an abstract entity wasn't too much for me.

Most interesting was Brevoort's behind the scenes manifesto. The proof of it long-term is in the eating though, so I guess I'll leave off discussing what they set out to do when I get to later collections.

For now, great writing, great art, great world-building. I remember thinking that the collection itself was beautifully presented and was probably the best format for the quality of art inside. A lot of modern comics have probably outgrown the 'floppy' format. They need to be showcased in really high quality printing, binding and paper stock like we have here.

Which, given their expense, is an argument for reading them from libraries!
Figserello said:
The Baron said:
"The celebrated sequence from November 1976 that shows a zoom in from Joannie Caucus' empty bed across town to her smiling in bed beside a sleeping Rick Redfern was very powerful, given how difficult her life was and how hard she found it to enjoy herself."

I remember that bit. The Globe wouldn't run the strip that showed them in bed together.

Was there much hoo haa about it?

Is that the Boston Globe? I thought Boston was a fairly liberal town. But 1976 was quite a while ago...

I just wonder what the readers thought was going on in the week leading up to the offending panel. Trudeau was pushing the boundaries of reader attention there, as well as acceptability.

Ah, my hometown is a place of contradictions... I was speaking of the Boston Globe, and it was - and is - a liberal paper. As Luke says, Doonesbury was in the comics page in those days. Boston is a liberal town, politcally, in many ways. However, there's also a strong conservative streak, socially speaking, as well. It started out as a Puritan, initially, and it never quite lost all the traits of one. Additionally, there was an influx of Irish and Italian Catholic immigrants in the Nineteenth Century, and they were pretty conservative. The phrase "banned in Boston" isn't heard much anymore, but it was still known when I was a kid. And, they've only started chipping away at the blue lawas in the last few years.
Banned in Boston sounds like the stamp of quality to me...
1 call number:YA GRAPHICNOV ID:34000077483311
Green Lantern in brightest day. : tales of the Green Lantern Corps /selected by Geoff Johns.
Johns, Geoff, 1973-
due:5/4/2009,23:59

A compilation of Green Lantern adventures from his earliest encounter with Sinestro all the way to the first issue of Kyle Raynor's 90's ongoing series.

Some great stuff here, obviously. From those clean lines of the 50's comics through Alan Moore's wonderful 80's shorts there's lots to enjoy here. There is also a huge range of different types and moods of stories, taking in many settings from the mid-west to the most extreme and exotic alien landscapes that Kevin O'Neill can dream up.

The Green Lantern mythos is obviously a very rich one, as the variety of types of stories on show here attests. The variety of stories and settings here do the whole field of superhero comics proud.

As to be expected, Alan Moore's contributions stand out. The humerous Mogo story and the fleshing out of Abin Sur's backstory stick in the mind and both give Geoff Johns a lot of mileage in his Green Lantern series. The Abin Sur backstory especially is a fine little fable of how small seeds of evil can grow in the mind. It's also a case of a writer using a story to address a seeming error in a previous comic. I wasn't nerdy enough to think of it, but apparently fans had asked how come Abin Sur was driving a spaceship when he crashed into the Earth when Green Lanterns can fly through space using only their rings. This story tells you why. It's strange to think that this one little 'continuity patch' is the foundation for much of what Geoff Johns is doing now.

Given the excellence of the few little sci-fi short stories by Moore here, it really is a pity the Big Two couldn't hold on to him a bit longer to further enrich their little playgrounds.

Given its publication date and Johns involvement as compiler, its obvious that this isn't just a 'Best of' collection. It is a primer for the characters and situations that show up in Johns' Green Lantern series. No bad thing given Johns whole 'standing on the shoulders of giants' writing approach.

As it happened, I did read this collection just prior to jumping into Johns' GL epic. I'll comment on those as I come to them, but for now I will say that the very standardised house-style that the current series is drawn in is shown up badly by the profusion of different styles here. To take two examples, Gil Kane's 's simple elegance and Kevin O'Neill's freakish alienist rendering both contributed to the tone of the stories they drew and I'm sure inspired their respective writers in various ways, whereas Johns can only tell his story in a very narrow range of art styles, and so the new series all feels very monotonous in terms of presentation.
3 call number:YA GRAPHICNOV ID:34000070639000
Supergirl : power / Jeph Loeb, writer ; Ian Churchill, penciller.
Loeb, Jeph.
due:29/4/2009,23:59


My review of the Superman/Batman collection that this story spins directly from says a lot that I'd repeat here.

I might have mixed the two up a little bit, as this is the story where Lex Luthor uses Black Kryptonite to split Kara into a good and an evil Supergirl thusly:


Implying that the new character flying the flag of DC's number one hero is half-evil really left subsequent writers with a plate of Do-do to deal with.

My big problem with these types of superhero stories is that they are only about superheroes, other superhero storylines and nothing else. She exists completely in the hermetically sealed world of DC superheroes. At least Spider-man worried about the rent and tangled with anti-war protestors. Even in JMS's quite sealed off run, which drifted further away from 'real-life' as it went on, showed Spider-man shocked by the destruction of the Twin Towers. Even Superman is usually shown holding down a full-time job.

But in the full-on DiDioverse, superheroes are only that. They talk only to one another, they all know each other equally well, God knows how they put a crust on the table. This collection takes this to an extreme. I'm sure old comics were like this too, but at least they had the distraction of featuring some new characters and concepts. Adding to the feeling of a sealed off world here is that there isn't anything in Loeb's inter-related comics of this era that isn't a re-hash of previous ideas and characters.

I suppose its amazing his Superman/Batman-Supergirl run is as entertaining as it is, given that he's restricted himself from adding anything to the pot.

Anorexic Supergirl. What were they thinking...
2 call number:GRAPHICNOV ID:34000075159194
The immortal Iron Fist. [1] : the last Iron Fist story / writers: Ed
Brubaker & Matt Fraction ; artists: David Aja ... [et al.].
Brubaker, Ed.
due:29/4/2009,23:59

I've read the first three volumes of this series, which take us up to issue #16. This volume contains issues 1-6 and end before Danny heads to K'un L'un for the tournement.

The title refers to Orson Randall, who was a pulpy, Doc Savage-type Iron Fist in the 30's, and who spent most of his life on the run from the Iron Fist legacy.

I've mentioned it often before, but comics writers in the 21st century work under certain restrictions that earlier writers didn't. Mainly, for various reasons, they don't deal in new characters and concepts. Partly it's to do with not creating characters they don't have rights to, and partly its the fanboy market reluctant to try new things. Thus Brubaker/Fraction here go down the Alan Moore Swamp Thing route of showing us that the long-standing character we know and love is only the latest in a long line of similar heroes.

This shares a lot of qualities with Brubaker's Captain America. For one thing, it handles a long-standing superhero extremely well. It feels new, but the mainstay character still feels like the same guy we knew in the 70's. As in Captain America, Brubaker (and Fraction, here) works well with his artistic collaborator to ensure that there is a consistent tone throughout. Whereas Captain America has a dark Tom Clancy, international espionage setting, the new Iron Fist has a pulpy, film noir feel.

Like Captain America, however, it may be a well made, consistent, good superhero comic, but it doesn't seem to be made for many readings. It's great to see Danny's relationships with Luke Cage and Misty Knight handled so well (and with such respect for what was established in previous fondly-remembered eras), but for a work of 'art' it doesn't tell me much that I didn't know going into this. Art should change us just a little bit, no? Or change the way we look at things, at least.

It's probably unfair to judge Brubaker's Captain America and his and Fraction's Iron Fist in terms of what they are not, but everything else is here - great distinctive art, good characterisation, strong long-term plotting and world-building (Jeph Loeb, take note). So I'm just sorry that these great runs don't really reach far enough beyond being stories about other superhero/pulp stories.

Even Claremont and Byrne's great Marvel collaborations in the early 80's were quite mind-expanding and educational for their demographic, which was 10 year old boys, or thereabouts, but Brubaker, Fraction and Aja's target market have been around the block a few more times than that...
3 call number:YA GRAPHICNOV ID:34000079162665
Superman. Past and future / [Jerry Siegel ... [et al.], writers ; GeorgePapp ... [et al.], artists].
Siegel, Jerry, 1914-1996.
due:2/5/2009,23:59

Even though I now try to order recent runs that I'm interested in, I still scan the graphic novel shelves every time I go to the library. The particular library I frequent must be used by a few other comics fans with good taste, as there is a steady influx of interesting graphic novels, which must have been ordered by someone. Each time I'm able to pick a book off the shelf that I might have ordered later, I save myself 80 cents, which is the cost of ordering intra-library loans.

So this is one that caught my eye. There is a spread here of Superman-related time travel stories from the 40's right up to the 80's. I can't remember if there was a post reboot story, but it was unlikely as time-travel was verbotten for a long time after the Crisis reset. Two stories stand out. The first is a Siegel Superboy story, where he fails to stop the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. It may be a hackneyed idea now, but like all these early stories, the freshness of the idea at the time comes through. A great twist is that Lex keeps unwittingly foiling Superboy's attempts to prevent the assassination, and is extremely remorseful when he realises at the end what he's done. Even he has some morality.

There isn't much made of the modern idea that the 'timestream' mustn't be tampered with. I suppose that the story reinforces the unstated rule of oldtime DC stories that you can't change the past even if you try.

In contrast I've just read the 2nd Plastic Man collection by Kyle Baker. In it they actually foil John Wilkes Boothes efforts, so Plastic Man's kick-ass female sidekick has to plug poor old Abe before they head 'back to the future'.

The big draw for me was the "Superman of 2965" stories, which were every bit as interesting as Commander Benson had made them out to be in one of his columns. I hadn't heard of these stories before the Commander introduced them in his column. I don't think he's reprinted them on the new board yet, but I look forward to reading his take on them again. I can never concentrate properly on articles on comics I haven't read yet, as I hate reading SPOILERS. I'd be able to read them more closely now that I've read the stories. These comics are just the kind of imaginative fun that the Silver Age specialised in. Like many Silver Age 'imaginary stories' they relay on the Superman 'brand' being so widely known and understood that a new variation on it is very easy to jump into.

The final story was probably the reason the collection was put together in the first place. It is the Bronze Age 'Who is Superwoman' story that introduced the first version of the character that was appearing in the Superman family of comics around this time last year. I'd be surprised if any reader wasn't able to answer the titular question within the first three frames of this 'mystery'.

SInce I first read Superman Showcase volume 1, I've been astounded at how good the Silver age Superman stories have been, but I don't know much about his Bronze Age adventures. Judging by this story, as weak as the 'mystery' was, there seemed to still be a lot of imagination in the stories. I'm looking forwardto reading more Bronze Age Superman someday.

I also love that the Library system lists Seigel as the main author for this collection. It just feels right, somehow.
In addition to the post-Crisis time travel rule, post-Crisis stories tend to be serials, so it's harder to represent them in collections.

Maggin's Superwoman concept may have been inspired by Superman's old sobriquet "Man of Tomorrow". The time travelling historians idea goes back to "The Miracle of Thirsty Thursday", which is one of Maggin's best Superman stories (with art by Curt Swan and Bob Oskner - Oskner doesn't get the same praise as some others, but he was one of Swan's best inkers). Kirsten Wells had previously appeared in his Superman novel Miracle Monday, which I haven't read. Kirsten/Superwoman returned in a DC Comics Presents Annual.
In addition to the post-Crisis time travel rule, post-Crisis stories tend to be serials, so it's harder to represent them in collections.

They've also ben quite a jarring change of gears in any collections where they are tagged onto a group of Silver Age/ Bronze Age stories.

My theory is that post-Reboot, the Superman stories just did the old Silver Age stories one more time, in slow-motion. (ie as serials, as you point out.)

I think that I'm quite lucky in that I still have a lot of Silver and Bronze age Superman to enjoy, as I don't know much about them.

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