Very interesting. What you realize reading this is that there is Marvel Comics (the comics publishing side, with editors, writers, artists, and so on)Very interesting. What you realize reading this is that there is Marvel Comics (the comics publishing side, with editors, writers, artists, and so on) and everything else--initially a magazine publishing venture, then licensing, then movies and media. What struck me is how the history of the comics side paralleled the Roman empire. Prior to the explosion of Marvel superheroes in the 60s, Marvel comics publishing was just another small kingdom/republic surrounded by other kingdoms--the magazines published by Martin Goodman. Then in the 60s, Marvel became this empire, pushing the magazines aside as it grew and grew. It was like the early empire.
But in the 70s, when editors-in-chief changed yearly and writer-editors were permitted to run their own books, it was like the "military anarchy" period of the Roman Empire, when multiple generals proclaimed themselves emperor and Rome nearly collapsed.
The Jim Shooter comes in as emperor and restores the strong emperor model, ala Constantine. No more writer-editors. In the meantime, the Goodmans have some the company and it has become part of a conglomerate. Licensing becomes more important. It's like the growing power of the German tribes.
There is a period of multiple editors in chief, which made me think of the Tetrarchs. And as the shifting period of ownership, when Ron Perelman purchases the company with debt, goes public, then looses an amazing battle for the company with Marvel's chief licensee, ToyBiz, we have the equivalent of Valens letting the German tribes settle in the empire, followed by the battle of Adrianople. At this point, the empire of Marvel Comics publishing has become a small adjunct to licensing and ultimately film production. The Marvel Comics of today is like Constantinople of the 1100s, controlling only a small fraction of what it did at its peak, while "barbarian" tribes (Germans) and Muslims have taken over its former empire.
Not totally successful, but a pretty good story of a sophisticated artist from the city who is invited to a country town to help do a "biennial" art eNot totally successful, but a pretty good story of a sophisticated artist from the city who is invited to a country town to help do a "biennial" art event, which requires that he direct a few self-selected oddball locals create a collective artwork. It tries a bit too hard to establish the artist as cynical and jaded and the country locals as extremely eccentric, but the idea is that there is a gulf that must somehow be bridged, which is the main thrust of the story. The art is as excellent as we come to expect from Brecht, with a brilliant palette that uses local color and non-local color to create different moods. Perhaps his most interesting artistic innovation is to make his watercolor figures transparent--he uses the natural transparency of watercolor wash to create an image where nothing is opaque. This effect could be overdone, but he uses it sparingly....more
Fairly unmemorable, this meandering science fiction story of a nurse who has been sent to Venus to deal with an outbreak of "atmospheric poisoning." OFairly unmemorable, this meandering science fiction story of a nurse who has been sent to Venus to deal with an outbreak of "atmospheric poisoning." Of course, the outbreak turns out to be something more sinister. Skelly has a light touch, but the story doesn't really go anywhere. I wasn't invested in the story. The ending of the story doesn't actually wrap it all up, but I by the time I reached that point, I really didn't care....more
This story of two sisters in the New York Jewish immigrant community of the early 20th century is also a story of early grassroots feminism (there isThis story of two sisters in the New York Jewish immigrant community of the early 20th century is also a story of early grassroots feminism (there is a character who is an abortionist and dispenser of contraceptives--both highly illegal, who trains one of the sisters). One sister drifts into prostitution (which was intimately intertwines with entertainment--the whores gave a singing/dancing floor show in addition to servicing the johns). The other into working with Bronia the "cuziernerka" (a word left undefined and which doesn't exist on the internet!)--first as a student learning to read, then as an assistant dealing with "ladies' problems." Esther, the prostitute, meets a theatrical producer through her job who starts using her as an actress. Fanya falls in love with a boy she knew as a child who comes home from World War I missing a leg. Despite the fact that Fanya knows the illegal means of preventing pregnancy, she manages to get pregnant by her paramour. I won't reveal more. Remember that contraception wasn't universally legalized in the United Sates until 1965. Even condoms were not legal for unmarried persons at the time when this book is set.
Corman's art is loose--so loose that she sometimes loses control of it. The hair of the character Meyer Birnbaum threatens to fly off the page. And in later scenes with Tanya and Bronia, the two women are hard to tell apart. I don't mind loose art--it has been a part of the arsenal of cartooning in the work of cartoonists ranging from Feiffer to Kate Beaton. In Unterzakhn, however, I think the drawing is a liability--but not a fatal one, by any means....more
A very unusual comic--somewhat crudely drawn with vivid colors, it tells the story of an edenic Earth (humans could comminicate with animals telepathiA very unusual comic--somewhat crudely drawn with vivid colors, it tells the story of an edenic Earth (humans could comminicate with animals telepathically and lived in utter harmony with nature) that is invaded by powerful, technologically sophisticated aliens. these aliens are like gods and have the names of old gods (Mithras is the primary baddie). Mithras mates with a human called Gaia and has a series of mutant children who all have names of Titans from Greek mythology. Meanwhile in Canaan, other sleazy aliens have landed where Adam and Eve are living as pre-lapsarian telepathic humans. They are lead astray by a group of techno-gods lead by Serapis. This is the first volume of a series that Moynihan is publishing online.
Briefly, it reminds me of three things. First is Ulysse by Jacques Lob and Georges Pichard. This french comic from the 70s (which was translated into English I think by Heavy Metal) posited that the Gods who were impeding Ulysses from returning home were in fact technologically (if not morally) superior beings. The cyclops is a robot, for example.
The other thing it reminds me of are the "space" books by Doris Lessing. In them, three highly sophisticated civilizations are trying to affect events on Earth has humanity evolves. Two are allied and are basically good, while one is intent on having humanity destroy itself (lest it develop into a rival). The myths and fairy-tales of humanity can be explained by the interventions of these planets.
Finally, Roger Zelazny's Lord of Light is a science fiction novel where very advanced humans set up a pre-industrial world where they will be seen as gods--specifically as members of the Hindu pantheon.
If there is a genre of tencho-gods meddling with humans, Forming is a worthy addition to it....more
The artwork in this volume is far less exciting than his work in Leon la Came, which was a revelation. This is not to say that it was bad--De Crecy haThe artwork in this volume is far less exciting than his work in Leon la Came, which was a revelation. This is not to say that it was bad--De Crecy has an appealing style, and I love his wavery linework. The story is fairly trivial--I had a hard time staying interested. ...more