The trials and challenges of John Lewis are very interesting, and I did feel like there were times we got to know him a bit more as a person. The inteThe trials and challenges of John Lewis are very interesting, and I did feel like there were times we got to know him a bit more as a person. The interlude about chickens was something that isn't mentioned on his Wikipedia page, for instance. And there's a little bit about looking an attacker in the eye that lends the story so much emotional, true-to-life substance, the kind you don't always get from a straight-up text biography or entry in a history book.
Those dramatic, personal moments resonated with me as a reader. The larger historical notes, though very important, didn't quite strike me the same way.
It's tough to rate a book that way. Because the work and beliefs of John Lewis seem to align very much with my own, and I wouldn't seek to invalidate them in a book review.
It's a bit like a problem that often comes up in writers' workshops. Someone brings in a piece that is very important, very close to their heart. Perhaps a story of abuse or death of a loved one. And while you don't want to invalidate the story, you do have opinions on the storytelling.
That's the thing, separating the story (the events and spirit) from the storytelling (the tools and methods that convey the story).
My opinions on the story here are: great story about a great man.
My opinions on the storytelling: feels like the pace really increases a lot about halfway through, and we run out of time for those small, personal moments that I loved.
And damn, I really would have liked to see some color in the book. Nate Powell is a really good artist, and he can use color well. The covers to this book are a testament to that. I read a bunch of 1960's comics reprints in black and white, and it seemed totally fine until I read the same books in color. I may just be a simpleton, but pretty colors really do help bring a comics story to life, for me anyway.
All that said, I am glad to see this collaboration, and to see it come from a company like Top Shelf. All too often, a comic with an important, non-fiction message comes from a publisher that's not so hot on comics, and the products tend to suffer as a result. W.W. Norton seems to do this quite a bit. I usually find the content of their books to be awesome, but the physical presentation isn't always as exciting. And it's disappointing to read comics that have serious, important subject matter, but to not really be able to recommend them as comics as they aren't great examples of the form. Books like that just leave you feeling like, "Why did they make this a comic?"
March makes sense as a comic. It works as a comic. And I definitely think it's meant to capture the attention of younger people, and to hold the interest of older people too, who are increasingly used to short, digestible non-fiction. It doesn't feel like a cheap attempt because kids love comics. It's a legitimate move inspired by Martin Luther King's Montgomery Story comic (http://kingencyclopedia.stanford.edu/...). Gotta respect that.
It's also nice to see a politician who seems to be a genuinely good person, someone with ethics that I can get behind. I'm not famous for loving politicians, but John Lewis seems like the kind of politician that we need. Not right now, but always. ...more
The Bad: I don't normally start with the bad, but I'm going to in this case. It's pretty obvious to anA mixed bag, but a great piece of comics history.
The Bad: I don't normally start with the bad, but I'm going to in this case. It's pretty obvious to anyone who flips through this that there is a pretty harsh depiction of The Spirit's buddy, Ebony, who is a young black person and depicted in a manner that's totally unacceptable today. I don't really seek to condemn or defend this so much as to tell you it's there, and if it's too much to get past, then skip this book.
For me, I guess I'd compare it to Mark Twain in that I can completely understand someone who is like, "This might be a classic, but 219 N-words in a single book is over my threshold." And I don't think that's wrong. The reason I compare it to Mark Twain, however, is because I think the negative depictions are very indicative of the time (early 1940's), and because there is a lot of value to be derived if you're willing/able to go past all that. But again, I wouldn't look down on someone who says, "No thanks." I don't seek to do that so much as reassure someone who's unsure that yes, there is good in this book that may make it worth your while.
I'll say the other bad part. In a weird way, it'd be good to see some other comics printed at the time within this volume. The reason being, I think it's easier to appreciate just how much further Eisner was taking the medium of comics than a lot of his contemporaries if you could see them together.
The Good: The layouts and art are pretty amazing. The title pages are so creative and interesting, way more than a lot of pages today. And the stories are sophisticated in a way that a lot of comics aren't. This book does not hold your hand so hard that you'll know everything that's going on, and boy did Eisner have a willingness to tell very different stories through The Spirit, sometimes telling stories where the titular character doesn't appear at all.
This book definitely lays the groundwork for a lot of superhero books, especially Batman (and I've gotta believe that a lot of the campiness of the 1960's Batman has The Spirit to thank), and I think it also lays the groundwork for something that I've always loved, which is a different kind of superhero book.
Every so often, you'll get a Spider-Man issue where he, say, spends most of the pages chatting with Wolverine about something. Or a X-Statix which shows Doop's average day. I love these little interludes, and even though they might seem like space fillers, I feel like the writers really get into them and do interesting stuff when they don't necessarily spotlight the main character or when they tell a very different kind of story. I think The Spirit is one of the oldest books I've read that has those kinds of stories, the non-superhero or superhero-adjacent story that's surprisingly great.
Also, the essays by Neil Gaiman and Darwyn Cooke are excellent. If you're struggling with this book for whatever reason, I'd advise just skipping to those, reading them both, and then taking another crack at it. They really speak well to what makes this book so special.
My question: I never saw the Spirit movie. Who's seen it? What's it like? Watching the trailer again, my suspicion is that they didn't include enough of the fun into the story. But that's based on 3 minutes of a movie being marketed at a time when the gruff, serious superhero was everything....more
There's a great joke in this book about Jughead's name, and it got me thinking. "What is a jug, anyway?"
I found out. It's not that eI learned a thing!
There's a great joke in this book about Jughead's name, and it got me thinking. "What is a jug, anyway?"
I found out. It's not that exciting. It's a cup but different.
But THEN I found out how Jughead got his name!
Okay, here we go.
You know that crown he wears? Well, in the original comics, it wasn't a crown. It was a button beanie.
I read a great article about it (linked below), but basically, when a grown-up was done wearing a hat, like an old fedora or some crap, a kid would take it, flip it inside-out, and cut the brim off. The resulting hat looked kinda like a crown.
Kids decorated the hats with buttons, and there you go! Button beanie.
So how did this get to Jughead? The kids who wore these hats were called "jagheads," not because they were fans of the military/law show JAG, but because of the jagged pattern created on their hats. And the assumption is that the name morphed into Jughead, just like Jughead's hat morphed into a crown as time wore on, adults didn't wear hats anymore, and kids stopped busting up their dads' hats and putting a bunch of stupid buttons all over them.
Do I buy that theory? I dunno. Jaghead to Jughead? Why wouldn't he just be called Jaghead? Or Beanie? Or...anything other than Jughead, really.
In the new continuity, Jughead got his name because he was once rich, then his father made a terrible investment in some sort of jug-related business, and the kids on the playground started calling him "Jughead" as a result. Kids can be so cruel. Also, clever. Which makes the cruelty that much worse because sometimes you're like, "I gotta hand it to that kid, that was pretty good." You're mad, but the anger is tempered by a little bit of the realization that some slams are just too good to pass up.
Anyway, all I've really got are two theories about Jughead's name. The in-continuity theory and the real-world theory. But both are good enough. Frankly, I don't care a lot. I'm glad to be reading comics where a character is named Jughead.
Also, I'm told that there have been attempts to update Jughead's hat to be a baseball hat. You can just take that idea and cram it with walnuts.
I was confused as hell. There's a body that we're investigating for some reason, there's a Iraqi mover and shaker who is doing a whole bunch of stuffI was confused as hell. There's a body that we're investigating for some reason, there's a Iraqi mover and shaker who is doing a whole bunch of stuff that I don't fully understand (telecom deal?), and then we've got the guy, who is some kind of investigator soldier fella.
It seems like it was a chaotic time and a chaotic situation, but the narrative didn't solidify enough for me to get the hang of what was happening here. ...more
I really like Jessica Abel's stuff. I thought Out On The Wire was great, one of my favorite reads last year. But this one didn't take me to as interesI really like Jessica Abel's stuff. I thought Out On The Wire was great, one of my favorite reads last year. But this one didn't take me to as interesting a place. Which is weird when one considers that the place Out On The Wire went was podcast studios and Trish Trash is about a roller derby on MARS.
I was once quite enamored of roller derby. Before my city had a team, I went about an hour away to watch Denver's team more than a few times. When I visited Oregon we made the trip to see a roller derby bout. But now I think I've gotten a bit bored with it.
Roller derby is an interesting sport and fun to watch. It's also one of the few sports where the women's league is the dominant league. I don't think there's a problem with roller derby. I'm just not a sports person, spectator or player. I own one sports uniform, which is a t-shirt for a rec volleyball team (we were un-undefeated last season. That's fancy for "we lost EVERY game") and two hockey jerseys, which are both for fictional, podcast-based teams.
However, if I were to make suggestions to spice up the sport of roller derby?
+Mechanical Track: Imagine a track that was like a moving walkway. Sometimes it goes one way, sometimes the other.
+Penalty Tank: This is like a penalty box, but it's a dunk tank. And before the player can come out, another player has to throw a ball and trigger the mechanism to drop the penalized player in the tank.
+Mascots: Roller derby mascot game is weak. There are some, but this should be a bigger part of the spectacle.
+The Hat-dicap: This is a hat full of cards with different handicaps that can be placed on skaters. Things like having an arm tied behind a back, skating backwards, whatever. Whatever works for the skaters. These could be deployed to keep things interesting during the bout.
+Fan Games: You know how at baseball they do that thing where the fan has to run out and put the base in, then run home? I'm thinking fans have to shotgun a beer, skate around the track, shotgun a second beer, then around the track again. Something like that would be fun.
+Jetpacks: no explanation needed.
By the way, these all apply to all sports, far as I'm concerned....more
Old Man Logan is a lot more effective than Old Man Pete. I'll say that much.
Mark Millar, man, when he's on, he's on. And the art by Steve McNiven isOld Man Logan is a lot more effective than Old Man Pete. I'll say that much.
Mark Millar, man, when he's on, he's on. And the art by Steve McNiven is fantastic.
A lot's been said about this one, so I'd like to focus on an aspect that I loved. The return of The Spidermobile!
Yes, Peter Parker's wheels make a return in this book for possibly the title's silliest element.
Complete with its Spider-Man hubcaps, this lil buggy made its debut in Amazing Spider-Man #174 when the ever-broke Spidey made an endorsement deal with a car company.
The deal was short-lived. Mysterio tricked Spider-Man into dumping the car in the river (somehow), and it was lost until the Tinkerer showed up with an EVIL version, which Spidey defeated.
For the most part, The Spidermobile has been played as a joke since then. There was a fictional Smithsonian exhibit which included the Spidermobile and a laughing crowd scoping it out. And Deadpool swiped it, gave it a paint job and called it the Dead-Buggy.
Also, there are some alternate Earth Spidermobiles, including a sentient version called the Peter Parkedcar.
Anyway, in the midst of this apocalyptic tale of terribality, we get the Spidermobile. And for some of us, that was fucking sweet....more