Comics Enriched Their Lives! #19 and #20
by T. Hodler
Thursday, January 6, 2011
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.
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.
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.