Posts Tagged ‘Comics Enriched Their Lives’

Comics Enriched Their Lives! #21 (a/k/a Comics That Never Were #4)


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

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Of note are [Milo Manara‘s] two collaborations with Federico Fellini (a comic book enthusiast and a cartoonist himself), both in the director’s final years. The first, Viaggio a Tulum, appeared in 1986; the second and final one was supposed to be a completed version of Il viaggio di G. Mastorna, the movie Fellini had attempted to make during most of his career (the autobiographical 8 1/2 refers to the director’s failure to start the production of this very film).

Curiously, due to Fellini’s illness and a bizarre printing accident when the comic was serialized in the magazine il Grifo, even the comic book version was left unfinished. The next two installments would have told of Mastorna’s travels in the afterlife, but due to a printing mistake, the word END appeared at the bottom of the last page of the first episode. The always superstitious Fellini then decided it was a good place to stop and withdrew from the project. Il viaggio di G. Mastorna is to this day considered by many Italian film critics the most famous never-filmed movie in the history of cinema.

—Simone Castaldi, Drawn and Dangerous: Italian Comics of the 1970s and 1980s

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Comics Enriched Their Lives! #19 and #20


Thursday, January 6, 2011

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Okay, these are both gimmes, basically, but since there are two of them, maybe that’s the equivalent of one solid post. Plus they’re both literary, so you know this is some well thought out bloggery.

First, in the immortal words of Paul Hardcastle: 19.

Rocketman, like comic books, is assembled by the Raketen-Stadt in order to serve Their designs. When he no longer serves Their ends, They dismantle him. But fragments of him survive in Pynchon‘s text. No one who reads Gravity’s Rainbow will forget the legend of Rocketman, the greatest preterite super-hero of the postmodern world. For a moment, he defied Their will and fought for truth, justice, and the Pynchon way.

—H. Brenton Stevens, “‘Look! Up in the Sky! It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s . . . Rocketman!’: Pynchon’s Comic Book Mythology in Gravity’s Rainbow

I haven’t actually done more than skim that essay yet, by the way, as I am currently nearing the halfway mark in Gravity’s Rainbow, and don’t want to spoil things for myself. From a cursory perusal, it looks like Stevens may miss or downplay some of the subtler comic-book connections going on, such as the repeated Plastic Man references, but more knowledgeable others (and a future me) are better positioned to determine that. I will say that at this point I better understand why Thomas Pynchon tapped Frank Miller for the cover, a move that no longer seems intentionally perverse, but rather extremely apt—I just wish Miller hadn’t ultimately turned in such a relatively restrained image.

And now, 20:

At first I was read to. My grandfather had taught Greek and Latin at Columbia, and he read to me from a book that had abbreviated versions of The Odyssey and The Iliad—plus a lot of classic fairy tales, which, as you know, are extremely disturbing. Then I began reading on my own. I read mostly Westerns. My parents approved of that, because at least they were books. But when I got into comic books, they disapproved. I would read them by flashlight under the covers. No one realized in those days that 1930s Action Comics and DC Comics, Superman and Batman, would become legendary in American culture. They taught me a great deal about narrative—lots of invention and no pretense of realism.

—Harry Mathews, interviewed in the Spring 2007 issue of The Paris Review

Also no real surprise, considering the various Ou-X-Po connections, but there you go.

[Tip of the hat to DB for the latter.]

P.S. I finally got a copy of Neonomicon #3, so anyone interested in the CCCBC should find and read a copy before next week if you want to follow along.

UPDATE: Since I posted this, I found a more up-to-date and comprehensive article about Pynchon/comics connections online at The Walrus, written by Sean Rogers. I recommend it and you can read it here.

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Comics Enriched Their Lives! #18


Thursday, November 11, 2010

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Dino De Laurentiis, film producer.

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Comics Enriched Their Lives! #17


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

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I’ve started to wonder whether what I read as a child wasn’t more important. […] And then there was Pif le chien, a comic book published by Editions Vaillant and sponsored by the Communist Party. I realize now when I reread it that there was a Communist bent to many of Pif’s adventures. For example, a prehistoric man would bring down the local sorcerer in single combat and explain to the tribe that they didn’t need a sorcerer and that there was no need to fear thunder. The series was very innovative and of exceptional quality.

—French novelist Michel Houellebecq, interviewed in The Paris Review No. 194

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Comics Enriched Their Lives! #16


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

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He titled one collection I Hate Poems About Poems About Poems, which is almost as good a title as that of his 2000 cartoon collection, Teach Yourself Fucking. … [Jeffrey] Lewis says he was also working on a history of radical cartoons that would draw upon his voluminous personal collection.

—From an obituary for legendary Fug, poet, anarchist, and cartoonist Tuli Kupferberg. R.I.P.

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

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Stern Writing Workshop Handouts

Stewart Stern, Rebel Without a Cause and The Ugly American screenwriter, now 88, uses “splat” (inspired by this Feiffer strip) regularly to describe any obstacle in life. Stern: “Our lives are made of Splats, and our personalities are shaped by the way we go through Splat.” 

A documentary on his life is even titled Going Through Splat.  

Stern does a writing workshop where he gives you a starting line and you continue it, writing whatever pops into your head. Starting lines include: “The secret about me/myself that might come out if I confront Splat are…” or (my favorite) “Now, as I plunge into the vortex of Splat, the burning core of all of my hopes and dreams, I see, hear, taste and feel…”

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Comics Enriched Their Lives! #15


Friday, November 6, 2009

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Most of the collectors whose libraries we bought were dead years before the libraries came to us, so the only way we could judge the level of eccentricity in the collectors was the books themselves, or from other evidence. …

An Orientalist named Paul Linebarger, whose father, we were told, had been Sun Yat-sen’s lawyer, had absolutely wonderful books, but he had other things, too. He was an early expert on psychological warfare, which I believe he later taught. In one of his closets, for example, we found a huge pile of anticommunist comic books in Mongolian. Paul Linebarger also wrote science fiction, under the name Cordwainer Smith. And he had an interest in ladies’ lingerie. One of the more unusual things we bought from his estate was a bra mannequin, complete with bra. Several drawers full of bras we let lie.

—Larry McMurtry, Books: A Memoir

I realize that most of you have probably never heard of Smith, but that’s okay. We won’t shy away from celebrating the unjustly obscure here. Scanners need no longer live in vain.


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Comics Enriched Their Lives! #14


Sunday, September 27, 2009

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“We decided that the light should be emotional rather than realistic,” says [Alain] Resnais, citing a source of inspiration in one of his beloved comic-strip illustrators, Terry and the Pirates creator Milton Caniff. “At a time when comic strips were very disparaged as an art form, I was very happy to learn that Orson Welles and Milton Caniff had a correspondence in which they said that each was influenced by the other. And Orson Welles was not an imbecile!”

Village Voice, Sept. 22, 2009

An easy one, but a good ground rule double all the same.


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Comics Enriched Their Lives! #13


Thursday, August 20, 2009

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I’ve written on a number of occasions about John Updike’s life-long love affair with comics, evidence of which can be found throughout his fiction, poetry and essays. (For examples, see here, here, and here). But one last bit of poetry is worth dwelling on. One of Updike’s final literary works, which he was still composing just a month before he died earlier this January, was the long poem “Endpoint” (now included in the collection Endpoint and Other Poems). A sequel to his earlier poem “Midpoint” (which reflected on his life at middle age), “Endpoint” looks back on Updike’s earthly existence and career.

References to comics are scattered throughout “Endpoint”. On his birthday in 2004, under the harsh sun in Tucson, Arizona, Updike sees a “prickly pair”. This leads him to think back to Mickey Mouse and his childhood: “The prickly pear/has ears like Mickey Mouse, my first love.” Chain association drudges up the following memory:

To copy comic strips, stretched prone
upon the musty carpet — Mickey’s ears,
the curl in Donald’s bill, the bulbous nose
of Barney Google, Captain Easy’s squint —
what bliss! The paper creatures loved me back
and in the corner of my eye, my blind
grandfather’s black shoes jiggled when he sang.

A little later, Updike recalls:

A small-town Lutheran tot, I fell in love
with comic strips, Benday, and talk balloons.
The daily paper brought us headlined war
and labor strife; I passed them in route
to the funnies section, where no one died
or even, saving Chic Young’s Blondie, aged.

A bit further on, Updike ponders how his youth was saturated with the mass media, which set him and his peers apart from their “elders”:

Signals beyond their [our elders’] ken transported us —
Jack Benny’s stately pauses, Errol Flynn’s
half-smile, the songs we learned to smoke to, ads
in magazines called slicks, the comic strips,
realer than real, a Paradise if
we held our breaths, we could ascend to, free.

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Comics Enriched Their Lives! #12


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

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My good friend, Spahr Schmitt, forwarded me this quote from Star Wars creator George Lucas. It was originally published in Rolling Stone magazine in 1977.

“Yeah. Star Wars is designed with the international market in mind. The French are very much into this genre. They understand it more than Americans do, and it is the same with the Japanese. I own a comic gallery, an art gallery in New York that sells comic art and stuff; the guy that runs the art gallery also runs a comic store and we do a lot of business in France. They understand Alex Raymond, they understand that he was a great artist, they understand Hal Foster and they understand comic art as real art and as a sort of interesting, goofy thing. And I am very much into comic art, and its place in society as a real art, because it is something that expresses the culture as strongly as any other art. What Uncle Scrooge McDuck says about America, about me when I was a kid, is phenomenal. It is one of the greatest explorations of capitalism in the American mystique that has ever been written or done anywhere. Uncle Scrooge swimming around in that money bin is a key to our culture. [Laughs] Hal Foster was a huge influence in comic art and, I think, art in general. Some of the Prince Valiants are as beautiful and expressive as anything you are going to find anywhere. It is a form of narrative art but because it is in comic it has never been looked at as art. I look at art, all of art, as graffiti. That’s how the Italians describe the hieroglyphics on the Egyptian tombs, they were just pictures of a past culture. That is all art is, a way of expressing emotions that come out of a certain culture at a certain time. That’s what cartoons are, and that’s what comics are. They are expressing a certain cultural manifestation on a vaguely adolescent level but because of it, it is much more pure because it is dealing with real basic human drives that more sophisticated art sometimes obscures.”

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