Back in college, my supervisor at the work-study job I had lent me this. It sat on my desk, unread for several months until he asked for it back. I waBack in college, my supervisor at the work-study job I had lent me this. It sat on my desk, unread for several months until he asked for it back. I was an asshole. This book is the shit....more
My parents gave me this book for Christmas. In the interests of laziness, here is the email I sent them about it:
glad to hear you've arrivedMy parents gave me this book for Christmas. In the interests of laziness, here is the email I sent them about it:
glad to hear you've arrived and everything is going well. say hi to imy for me.
i finished reading the duck soup book (hail, hail euphoria) and it was interesting. fact: i had no idea the marx brothers were actually brothers! the writing was (i think intentionally) a bit all over the place; the writer is giving a running commentary on the film and going off on various tangents about the making of it and the brothers' lives. i didn't always find him funny, but i admired his love for the film, i learned a lot and he certainly made me want to track down other marx bros films.
I don't get the love for this. For the record, I have no problem with autobio comics. There's a way to tell a personal story in an artful and affectinI don't get the love for this. For the record, I have no problem with autobio comics. There's a way to tell a personal story in an artful and affecting way. Harvey Pekar doesn't do that.
Most of the stories have these awkward endings where he tries to wrap things up with a final line that is maybe supposed to be funny or ironic or though-provoking but every time I would just go "huh? How was that at all funny, ironic or though-provoking?" It's high school-level writing.
The subject matter seems questionable too. Look, not every incident from your life is worth relating. I get that it's supposed to reflect the realities of everyday life in a way that a lot of fiction ignores, but that doesn't make the stories automatically worthwhile or interesting to read, particularly because the execution often seems really amateurish and devoid of artistic skill. Still, occasionally it works for me. The story about arriving at the airport just as the sun is coming up does capture a particular feeling really well. And you also get to know Harvey as a person and he becomes quite endearing (especially when you find out he's a Degrassi Jr High fan).
It might be the art that contributes to feeling of sloppiness here. He gets some winners like Crumb and Jim Woodring, but a large chunk of the art just seems really sloppy to me.
Most of the stuff in this volume is from the 80s, and maybe his earlier work would be more to my liking. The end of the book contains a number of pieces that are older and/or were published outside of the main American Splendor comic and those were the ones I liked the most. The two that he did with Chester Brown actually made me laugh out loud, the only laughs this book provided....more
Crumb is a fantastic artist, but I'm not sure I feel very strongly about his writing. Two different sources told me this era is his best, but I thinkCrumb is a fantastic artist, but I'm not sure I feel very strongly about his writing. Two different sources told me this era is his best, but I think I should have gone with the 60s stuff instead....more
City of Glass - 5 stars Ghosts - 4 stars The Locked Room - 3 stars
I was aware of this book for a long time, but had always avoided it because I was undeCity of Glass - 5 stars Ghosts - 4 stars The Locked Room - 3 stars
I was aware of this book for a long time, but had always avoided it because I was under the impression that it was of the self-congratulatory post-modern fiction type (ie Don Delillo). But I ended up reading the graphic novel adaptation of City of Glass because it was drawn by the great Dave Mazzucchelli and I liked it enough that I opted to give the original a try.
I guess it is a little bit self-congratulatory in its post-modernism, but it's in a playful, stimulating and pleasing way (unlike Don Delillo). It's more like Borges (especially in City of Glass), with a rich web of ideas under the surface. It's not a polemic and it doesn't beat you over the head with those ideas; they're there for you to do with what you will. The closer you read, the more connections and repeating themes and symbols you find. Each connection is like a string that you can pluck. Plucking them together doesn't necessarily create a melody, but when you pluck each one it makes a very pleasing sound. Nabokov used to talk about this and how it gave the reader the truest form of artistic pleasure which they would feel in the base of their spine (personally, I feel it in my stomach).
This is probably why the books work better the more abstract they are. Auster doesn't really excell with character drama, and that's probably why The Locked Room is the weakest of the trilogy. The further Auster pulls away from reality, the more enjoyable it is....more
EDIT 8/11/16: My criticism of the last issue still stands, but the rest is good (and that last issue isn't necessarily bad, just disappointing) and DaEDIT 8/11/16: My criticism of the last issue still stands, but the rest is good (and that last issue isn't necessarily bad, just disappointing) and Davis' art is so fantastic that I will change this to a 4.
I would like to reiterate how much I love Alan Davis and how much the first eight issues here epitomize what a good, straight-forward super-hero comic should be: wonderfully drawn, very funny, charming, gripping, addictive. The final issue epitomizes what people generally hate about super-hero comics: climax that doesn't make good on what was promised, confusing/continuity-heavy explanations that don't make sense and don't provide any type of closure and satisfaction to what went before. But if you ignore that one issue, the rest is a blast. Alan really brings back the fun that was in the early issues of the series and became quickly lost....more
The series was definitely the best at the beginning. God knows Claremont has his shortcomings as a writer (overwritten/cheesy dialogue, sub-plots thatThe series was definitely the best at the beginning. God knows Claremont has his shortcomings as a writer (overwritten/cheesy dialogue, sub-plots that dangle forever), but here they're mostly overshadowed by his good qualities. Fun/charming characterization/ character interaction and tight plotting that moves along at a pleasant pace. This was a very fun book, especially in contrast to what was going on in other Claremont titles of that time. The climax of the Murderworld arc is a great example of that. Alan Davis' art, needles to say, looks great....more
Alan Davis is fantastic. I think his art here is probably the best I've ever seen it. He inks himself here, and he uses a lot of bold, thick lines andAlan Davis is fantastic. I think his art here is probably the best I've ever seen it. He inks himself here, and he uses a lot of bold, thick lines and lots of shading, unlike his usual inkers (Farmer and Neary) who tend to give his work a bit more of a cartoony look. No disrespect to Farmer and Neary, but I actually prefer the moodier look Davis' inks give these comics. Strong layouts, great expressions and body language, a flair for depicting the fantastic, excellent character design, Alan does it all. He's not a very flashy artist and it's easy to miss just how talented he is, but if you look carefully you'll be impressed.
The plotting here is fairly strong and moves along nicely, though it seems like the title got canceled abruptly and all the plot points are suddenly resolved in a very abrupt and unsatisfying fashion (several resolutions seem to directly contradict where their respective plots were implied to be heading). There are a lot of subplots going on, and right as the build-up is about to pay off--everything gets cut short instead. The Captain's story continues in Excalibur, but most of these sub-plots are not picked up there. So the book's not quite strong enough for me to give it a 4 (maybe a 3.5), but used copies of this tend to come pretty cheap and it's definitely worth the $5 or whatever you'll plunk down for it....more
I first read Ada after I had become smitten with Pale Fire and Lolita. I was colossally disappointed, hated the book and almost gave up on Nabokov (buI first read Ada after I had become smitten with Pale Fire and Lolita. I was colossally disappointed, hated the book and almost gave up on Nabokov (but then discovered Speak, Memory which returned him to my favor). N has since become my favorite writer and, after devouring all of his other novels, I decided to give this one a second chance. Plus that was many years ago and I think I had some questionable opinions back then.
At first I had the same reaction. What I usually love N for is his rich, playful, pleasing prose. In Ada he seemed to replace the fun aspect of his writing with a never-ending series of irritating puns, sequences in other languages, willful obscurity and unpleasingly convoluted sentence structure (kind of like late-period Henry James, though not THAT bad). Reading became like a class you don't want to attend, but do anyway because you need the credits. There's a part where Van and Ada come up with a code to exchange secret letters. If you go back a few pages, you can decipher a phrase written in that code. The phrase is pretty unimportant and doesn't really contribute at all to your enjoyment, but maybe for a second you feel clever for figuring it out. That's sort of a metaphor for N's writing style here: it's kinda clever but doesn't really give you much to reward the effort you put in.
But about halfway through the novel the prose seems to snap back to that style we know and love. Reading becomes a joy again. And even when I had problems with the style, I still loved the story and characters. N almost seems to be intentionally courting controversy (Lolita-style) by having his novel star two siblings on a lifelong romance. But there's no real moral issue here. They may flaunt our cultural (and biological) norms, but we never really feel like they're doing anything wrong (unlike Humbert Humbert). It's charming and endearing and you get a little lump in your throat watching them get old together.
At times it's a slog, but eventually it becomes worth it. I don't agree with those that say this is one of N's best (I can think of at least ten of his novels that are better), but it's still worth your time. Just save it until you've read a fair bit of his work. Equal parts frustration and joy (well, probably a little more joy)....more
There's no description here, so just to briefly explain: This book contains excerpts from the first three issues of Art Spiegelman's RAW magazine, whiThere's no description here, so just to briefly explain: This book contains excerpts from the first three issues of Art Spiegelman's RAW magazine, which was sort of an early-80s successor to the underground comix anthologies of the 70s (ie Arcade), but a bit more arty/avante-garde-ish.
RAW (based in Soho) employed a similar aesthetic to the downtown Manhattan music and film scenes of the late 70s/early 80s, and as a big fan of that era this was a very exciting discovery for me. It's difficult to put my finger on what exactly it is, but even across a wide number of creators there's a certain conceptual similarity that I really liked. Kind of helped bring the whole era to life for me.
As with any anthology, Read yourself RAW is kind of a mixed bag. There were a few pieces that I outright disliked, a couple that seemed more interesting conceptually than enjoyable to read, but there were several that I loved. Jacque's Tardi's "Manhattan" was by far my favorite...just an incredible piece. Also loved Munoz's short story and Spiegelman's "Two-Fisted Painters". Most pieces are short, which in some cases does the creators a disservice. For example, you'd be hard pressed to realize Charles Burns's (unquestionable) genius from his two one-page stories. There's also a prevailing tone of artistic detachment and irony throughout the book (not necessarily a criticism), which makes it funny to think that something as serious and human as Spiegelman's Maus came out of RAW.
Due to wide variations in quality I feel like I can't give this more than three stars, but I don't want to give the impression that this isn't worth tracking down. I found a used copy for $25 (which I considered reasonable), and it was easily worth it just as a window to a fascinating time for underground culture and for introducing me to several outstanding creators (especially Jacques Tardi)....more