I Don’t Read Comics Anymore


by

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Sorry about that. It makes it hard to think of things to say about them, though.

Actually, I’m exaggerating. I read and mostly liked the two new Urasawa series that finally got published last week, and re-read and loved the Tezuka story that one of them adapted. I still don’t have anything to say about them, though.

So how about this instead?

1. Paul Karasik can still surprise me, which surprises me. Check out his take on the above Jimmy Olsen cover over at the Covered blog.

2. I like a lot of Alan Moore’s stuff, but have recently gotten tired of reading all the articles about how he doesn’t like movies made of his comics. Not that his stance bothers me, but I’ve heard it a million times now, and don’t understand why the entertainment press still thinks it’s so shocking and interesting. So it was funny (to me) that when I read the latest big Alan Moore interview, this part jumped out at me as being particularly enjoyable:

One of my big objections to film as a medium is that it’s much too immersive, and I think that it turns us into a population of lazy and unimaginative drones. The absurd lengths that modern cinema and its CGI capabilities will go in order to save the audience the bother of imagining anything themselves is probably having a crippling effect on the mass imagination. You don’t have to do anything. With a comic, you’re having to do quite a lot. Even though you’ve got pictures there for you, you’re having to fill in all the gaps between the panels, you’re having to imagine characters voices. You’re having to do quite a lot of work. Not quite as much work as with a straight unillustrated book, but you’re still going to do quite a lot of work.

I think the amount of work we contribute to our enjoyment of any piece of art is a huge component of that enjoyment. I think that we like the pieces that engage us, that enter into a kind of dialog with us, whereas with film you sit there in your seat and it washes over you. It tells you everything, and you really don’t need to do a great deal of thinking. There are some films that are very, very good and that can engage the viewer in their narrative, in its mysteries, in its kind of misdirections. You can sometimes get films where a lot of it is happening in your head. Those are probably good films, but they’re not made very much anymore.

I didn’t enjoy it so much because of his critique of film—which I think (or thought) was pretty banal and almost conventional wisdom at this point (Godard’s work isn’t done, I guess)—but because it just seems so refreshing after reading so many articles and interviews with comic-book people who always seem to be trying to pump up comics by saying they’re just like movies, or could make great movies, or that the reason Will Eisner is great is because he used tricks from the movies, etc. It’s nice to hear someone involved in comics who doesn’t have an inferiority complex about them, and just flat out says they’re better, and on top of that, movies are bad for your brain.

Also, usually I get all bent out of shape when someone admits to not paying close attention to comics and movies for a decade or so before turning around and bashing them on and on, but I have to admit this time I was kind of amazed at how accurate Moore was. (Though admittedly his critiques apply mostly to the superhero and blockbuster varieties.) Maybe that’s a power you get when you’re a wizard.

On the other hand, I tried again this winter, and I still can’t get through Promethea. What a chore. It seems like being a wizard has its bad sides, too.

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45 Responses to “I Don’t Read Comics Anymore”
  1. Daniel says:

    I couldn’t agree more about the ‘comics are just like movies’ thing. Comics are profoundly different to movies aren’t they?

    They’re governed by a completely unique order of icons and signs, have their own troubled and fractured history, and force a complex experience of time on the reader.

    As I guess most people reading this blog would agree, comics are an exciting evolving medium. To draw a parallel to movies is to focus only on the most banal aspects of the medium, and ignore almost everything that makes it it.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I could have read an entire book about the "5 Swell Guys."
    Promethea starts as an adventure story but a couple issues in it turns into a series of illustrated essays on magic with bits of an adventure story interspersed. I never got through that part either.

    It's sad to think of the lost potential of the ABC line. Apart from Swamp Thing, I'm not the biggest fan of his 80s work. There seems to be a turning point in his attitude and approach somewhere around Supreme, after which he starts producing some really great, different stuff. I think the League is unquestionably his best work, the Black Dossier being the best of that. I'm really thrilled that he retained the rights to that series and got it set up at Top Shelf.

    Moore acknowledges that his critique applies to a certain, popular type of filmmaking rather than the medium itself. It happens to be the type of filmmaking that the people holding the rights to his older works, Warner or Fox, have been exclusively interested in.
    I think the Hughes Brothers, with From Hell, faired the best: it doesn't resemble the book but it's a decent, well-intentioned film.
    LXG is a fairly unremarkable demonstration of corporate laziness and cynicism.
    V for Vendetta and Watchmen both look to be victims of filmmakers projecting their own stupid politics into the work; the Wachowskis tried to turn Vendetta's Thatcher-era anxieties into a half-assed critique of the Bush administration, while Zack Snyder brings to Watchmen the same baggage as he did his other two films: creepy right-wing xenophobia and an intense fear of gays.
    Moore's work might be called "unadaptable," but no one's really seriously tried to adapt it properly in the first place.

    http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=14937
    What's important to remember is that his vehement opposition to these adaptions stems not from their quality as films, but from the fact that he was dragged into court and personally sued alongside Fox over LXG by a writer claiming the film was a copy of his own script. Fox settled this case rather than fighting back, basically admitting that they and Moore had been caught in a conspiracy to commit plagiarism. That is why he's had his name struck from subsequent adaptations and switched his attitude from indifference to violent opposition. He's right, too.

    I'm far less baffled by Hollywood's inability to understand Alan Moore than I am by its inability to understand Garth Ennis. Fox had a camera-ready proposition in his 12-issue Punisher relaunch and they let Jonathan Hensleigh turn it into a bad knockoff of Mad Max. Lexi Alexander had far better intentions on last year's Punisher, an attempt at doing Ennis' MAX comics, but the script was a joyless mess that barely managed to string enough cliches and plot bits together to form a story. His best Hellblazer story was adapted as Constantine, which I think speaks for itself. These are not difficult, intricately layered works that can't work outside the comics medium. They're about as pulpy and straightforward as you can get.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Actually, just remembered that Punisher was Lionsgate, not Fox.

  4. Stephen Pellnat says:

    Moore hasn’t lost any of his vitality or relevance in what would be, to many other cartooning giants, the waning years. I bought the Lost Girls Collection as soon as it came out and much like Georges BaTaille’s “Story of the Eye,” something about it unnerved me and I felt somewhat dirty reading the first book of it on the uptown 6 train that day. I didn’t know what to expect and at 18 years old it didn’t occur to me that this might not be acceptable public reading material. I think that Moore’s firm “write only that which cannot be filmed” stance has done wondrous things for the medium of comics, moreso for those more intrigued by the structure and formalistic tricks he employs than by the grittiness and bleak outlook of “Watchmen.”

    I remember reading Wizard when I was younger, which tooted Watchmen’s horn like they were going to get a prize for it, largely on the strength of the visceral grittiness, making occasional reference to seemingly the only formal trope they picked up on in the entire thing, which was the reflective nature of issue 5 (I think it was 5), the issue ending with Rorschach’s arrest.

    I tend to give Moore too gracious a get-out-of-jail free card, largely because on his say-so i discovered authors like Thomas Pynchon and the art of Eddie Campbell. I started to find his anti-film bombast a little tiresome as well, though this is an extraordinarily well-chosen excerpt from that interview. I couldn’t say why Hollywood has such a fascination with Moore, other than the flip, cynical indie comics view that his works rake in the bucks.

    I agree with anonymous that the Black Dossier was tremendous, and I remember some lukewarm response to it when it came out. Speaking entirely for myself here, I feel like Alan Moore’s later works will become more illuminated as time goes on and seem all the more integral to a (hopefully propulsive) new generation of cartoonists. I don’t know if it’s a major faux pas to admit to liking this book, but I loathed Miller’s Dark Knight Strikes Again when I was in high school. Five years later, I can’t call it anything but phenomenal. The main difference being that, perhaps unlike Miller (or at least unlike Miller’s latest DC work), I don’t think Alan Moore is just gleefully fucking with us. This seems a bit too glowing a response, perhaps, but Moore has influenced my work enormously (to the point that I’ve only recently shed a worn facsimile of his writing voice in my work) and I pick up everything he’s written as soon as it comes out. Maybe that’s unnecessary to add, but even the worst and most perplexing Alan Moore book nearly always strikes me as more interesting, ambitious and dense than most other comics with a recognizable mainstream author’s name on the cover.

  5. T. Hodler says:

    Whoa! A secret motherlode of prolific Alan Moore fans! Thanks for the comments. I’m not sure I agree in general that his later works are all that great, but I think that The Black Dossier was misunderstood, too, and I’m looking forward to the new books.

  6. DerikB says:

    I seem to be in the minority in thinking Promethea is one of Moore’s best works. I’ve read it multiple times and find it visually and thematically intriguing. I wrote about it here: http://madinkbeard.com/blog/archives/promethea

    I also loved his novel, Voice of the Fire, and am looking forward to the next one, Jerusalem.

  7. ULAND says:

    I dunno, I think saying Hollywood blockbusters are too immersive is like saying an Abba song is too catchy. I mean, yeah.That’s sort of the point. I can hum along to Abba on the radio, but it doesn’t mean I have lost any ability to listen to Charlie Parker, or what have you.
    I understand that it’s still ultimately his material that’s being used, so I get having a stake in how it’s presented, but these generalized criticisms come off like a finger waving nanny who knows what’s best for you. Like, if video games and stupid movies went away this mass of people would suddenly get into Proust or something. I just think they’d have less to do on a Friday night. They’d play Monopoly instead. I don’t this imagined “public” has ever been into art in a real way, but really, movies like Watchmen or V for Vendetta might provide an entry point for some suburban teenager to get into better material, including comics.
    -I know certain movies did that for me, anyhow. I don’t disagree that the immersive nature of some movies ‘washes over you’, but lots of times things will stay with you, and you’ll mull it over or otherwise use your imagination – especially younger people- to make up narratives inspired by a movie or whatever.
    As far as comics being “better” than movies, I just can’t go along with that idea. If you follow Moore’s logic, we shouldn’t be reading comics, as literature is less “immersive” and requires more work. It’s all what you do with it, of course. Each form can be used in so many different ways. I’m surprised that Moore, with his magickal outlook, doesn’t see it all as full of different kinds of potential.

    Yes, I will be seeing Watchmen. Opening weekend, probably.

  8. ULAND says:

    I think Promethea is great. Not a huge League fan. Swamp Thing, From Hell and Watchmen are still my faves.

  9. Frank Santoro says:

    man, SOMEWHERE, is an interview I read with Moore back in the late 80s where he specifically says that he wrote Watchmen to highlight how the medium of comics is unique. That it would be impossible to film the series. That he used device after device within the medium to show off it’s power.

  10. T. Hodler says:

    Derik — Thanks for the link. I’ll try to check it out. Maybe I’ll learn what I’m missing.

    Luke — Of course you’re right that it doesn’t make sense to say that comics are “better” than movies. I still like that he said they were — it’s fun. I might start saying it, too. (It’s also important to remember he was talking off the cuff in an interview, and would probably grant you most or all of your points.)

    Anyway, thanks for your comments.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Moore is a pseud. His sense of the comics medium is profoundly clotted, his single trick is to locate his narratives within a smirkingly initiate referential web as if that might lend them literary weight. His “comics as modern myths” shtick is shopworn and pompous. No surprise he hasn’t read comics in over a decade; Lost Girls and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen barely qualify as cartooning. They are profoundly dustbin-worthy mock historical flim-flam. He has swallowed his own Bardic puff; disappeared into his own post modernist wormhole. The performative spectacle presented by his huffing, puffing disavowal of the CGI revenant of his own shot bolt is predictably unedifying. Placing different media in some hypothetical contest for imaginative primacy while claiming complete disinterest as a consumer is meaningless.

  12. T. Hodler says:

    When did Moore ever say comics were “modern myths”? I think that line is stupid, too, but don’t recall him ever taking it.

  13. Dan Nadel says:

    Tim,

    Are the new Urasawa books worth diving into? I did love Monster but confess to having given up a bit before the end. I guess I didn’t love it enough to keep spending on it and shelving them. But I’m curious about the quality of the new ones. I read Jog’s review — I want yours!

  14. Anonymous says:

    I love this blog.

  15. T. Hodler says:

    I never finished Monster either, but after reading Pluto and 20th Century Boys, I want to.

    Like I said, I liked ‘em. Only one volume into both series is too early for me to have anything much interesting to say; I’ll write a review after a few more volumes have been released. Generally speaking, they’re both pretty great in a soap-opera thriller kind of way, both include some kind of clichéd or nonsensical stuff (that isn’t quite clichéd or nonsensical enough to really bother me yet), and both are a lot of fun. I’m on board for now.

  16. Anonymous says:

    @ TH, i was referring to Moore's approach to comics, the smash and grab raiding of cultural & folk histories, etc. Moore is a writer really – key statement, "Not quite as much work as with a straight unillustrated book"- and the literisation of comics is not something i can welcome. Anyway- I've already written profoundly twice in a paragraph up there so i'll shut up now!

  17. Paul Karasik says:

    “I Don’t Read Blogs AlanMoore.”

  18. Dan Nadel says:

    Paul,

    Do you remember how Alan Moore wound up in RAW? I always thought he was a bit of a non-entity to your generation/”crew” of cartoonists. My impression has been that there was a sharp divide between what he was doing and, say, what Gary P, et al were doing. Of course, there was, genre-wise, but qualitatively Moore was up there…

  19. looka says:

    Right my say on movies! This man knows his stuff! Who is this Alan Moore guy? Good guy!

    I like them newcomers with their fresh ideas! Mhmm! With young folk like that in comics, it’s looking mighty good for the medium! Keep it up buddy!!

  20. looka says:

    And I mean that!

  21. Paul Karasik says:

    Dan,

    The Moore contribution to RAW was pretty much after my tenure there, but, as I recall, that particular issue featured a section devoted to the pairing of writers with artists: Tom DeHaven with Richard Sala, The Deitch Bros. et al.

    One can say many things about RAW, but the editors were determined from the start to be intentionally unpredictable. So in that context it made sense to team up Alan Moore with, of course, Mark Beyer.

    -p.

  22. Rob Clough says:

    One of my favorite Moore stories is his team-up with Peter Bagge, published in a late issue of Hate. It’s the one about Kool-Ade man.

    My favorite of the ABC line was Top Ten. Pure fun. I liked Promethea (partly because I like JH Williams’ art), but there are a lot of issues where it feels like medicine. Best read in small doses.

    And of course, Supreme was fantastic. Very clever plots

  23. Benjamin Marra says:

    That Jimmy Olsen cover is classic. More awesome misbehavior on the part of Supes can be found here:
    http://superdickery.com/

    This one being an awesome example:
    http://superdickery.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=28&Itemid=45&limitstart=2

    Also, I get the feeling from Moore, in these sorts of interviews, that his works are becoming increasingly too precious to him as these movie adaptations spring up.

  24. Anonymous says:

    I agree with the above poster that the 5 Swell Guys were the best part of Promethea. I would have loved a comic about them. As it is, I had to stop reading Promethea after about 12 issues because, though the artwork was great, I didn’t care a bit about what was going to happen next.

  25. Stephen Pellnat says:

    I always thought Promethea was a little too determinedly challenging for its own good, and it’s probably the most emblematic example of valid criticism of Moore’s latter day work. I read a lot of it, never taking it upon myself to buy any of the trades for the same reason anonymous cites; I really didn’t care what was going to happen next. Moore, in a relatively short run, did what took Dave Sim fifteen years on Cerebus (probably from issue 200 on); He alienated readers who already respected his obvious intelligence with self-indulgent, confounding babble. This coming from someone who loves Cerebus and, as earlier stated, Moore’s work as well.

    I think that if Alan Moore’s work has offered one great detriment to the comics world, it’s to be found in the generation of young, psuedo-wannabe-intellectual cartoonists like myself who discovered Moore’s work at the same time we got tired of buying every variant cover of X-Men comics in the early to mid-nineties. That is; he gave a lot of people the impression that there was nothing valuable to be learned about writing from reading comics.

    I think that an artist who respects the power of novels, plays, poetry, etc. and takes lessons about structure, pacing and characterization from those mediums can often be a damned decent cartoonist, but the argument is sustained by one of Moore’s from an earlier time. He said at one point (paraphrased, of course) that an artist who treated comics like a film with an endless special effects budget will probably wind up producing comics that read like films with an endless special effects budget, making limited use of what comics themselves are capable of. Couldn’t the same be said for cartoonists who put too much emphasis on the validity of the novelistic format of writing?

  26. T. Hodler says:

    Stephen: Thanks for your comment. I totally see where you’re coming from, but I don’t know why you attribute the idea that comics should be “novelistic” to Moore. As far as I know, he’s never endorsed that position, much less said that cartoonists shouldn’t read comics! I could be wrong, of course.

  27. Stephen Pellnat says:

    You’re not wrong at all. He’s never said anything of the sort, and my comment is entirely my own preconceived prejudices and bias. I don’t think Moore would ever suggest that people should stop reading comics (he’d be out of a job), nor do I think his writing is in any way malicious towards the medium as a whole. I should have gone farther; this is clearly a guy who loves comics, and his “novelistic” approach is far from ubiquitous. Happy exceptions like Top Ten, Tom Strong and most of the ABC line refute that argument from the get-go.

    It’s not a concise argument by any means, but i suppose where I’m coming from is, well, did any of you see that John Waters movie “A Dirty Shame?” It was a strangely impotent piece of work by an artist spending the entire film railing against a long-dying sense of stupidity and the taboo in his chosen medium, an oppressive force that has been gradually losing steam due in some part to his own contributions. I hope Moore doesn’t read this blog, as I truly admire his work on the whole, but it seems to me that he sometimes fits the same bill. He came to power, as it were, during a time in which he considered mainstream comics to be stupid, floundering without an appreciable sense of identity or self-awareness, and contributed a necessary and high-minded shot to the arm. He’s by no means the only one to have done so, and whether comics benefitted from this treatment or not is not for any one person to say. Maybe this is a flimsy argument, but as good as his later work has been (in my mind, at least) it smacks of something a little condescending.

    I don’t think this is intentional by any means, but when dealing with such a recognizable and prolific figure in comics, no argument can be completely invalid. I half-agree with the anonymous commenter who called Moore a pseud and made an admirably succinct case for his reference-heavy attempts at lending comics (specifically his own comics) literary weight. That was incredibly well-put, actually. My feeling on it is (please don’t block my comments for saying so) that the same argument was probably made of Joyce and Pynchon’s work at one point or another, two incredibly dense and difficult authors in their own right. Comparing Moore to Joyce and Pynchon isn’t what I’m after, as the comparison isn’t fair for any party involved. I admire his ambition and the scope of his writing, and I think that there’s a great deal to be learned about comics from reading it. But when I said that he makes it feel like there’s nothing to be learned about writing from reading comics, what I meant was that I’ve met a lot of people who think that outside of Moore, comics are stupid, meaningless crap, and that the only way to write comics is the Alan Moore way. Those high profile anti-establishment figures have a pretty lousy habit of becoming an institution unto themselves.

  28. Alan Moore says:

    They will never be able to film ‘the Bowing Machine”! I spit venom all over your blog!

  29. knut says:

    The cross-pollenation between mainstream comics and holllwood/tv seems like certainly a bad thing for the aesthetic of comics.

    On the other hand certain comics that are very cinematic, like "Akira" or "Lone Wolf & Cub" are great in my opinion. Maybe it helps that the artists weren't using photographs of Bruce Willis and Laurence Fishburn for reference in every panel.

  30. knut says:

    Oh yeah and the greatest Alan Moore comic is “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow.” He just flaunts his proficiency of the language of comics in that thing (specifically classic Superman comics. It’s something to behold.

    OK nevermind I just wanted to say something different, Watchmen is obviously the best.

  31. Frank Santoro says:

    Stephen,

    this was a great comment:

    “Couldn’t the same be said for cartoonists who put too much emphasis on the validity of the novelistic format of writing?”

    got me thinkin…

  32. Anonymous says:

    Stephen’s comment clarified why I find ‘Rusty Brown’ unreadable (and ‘Jimmy Corrigan’ just a tad overrated – I love Ware for ‘Big Tex’).

    Moore’s comments clarified why I think Dan Clowes’ recent stuff is getting a little too much like a more middlebrow Tod Solonz.

    Check out that beautiful book ‘In The Studio’ – Hernandez’ and Crumb’s deep love of comics’ essential vulgarity (for want of a better word) highlight why those two are still great. Even the most ‘pretty’ of comics greats like Toth etc. held on to some raw, vital energy.

    But then I’m the kind of guy who finds much more sublime poetry in Iggy screaming ‘Hey hey hey!’ like a caveman than any number of Lou Reed pseudo-poems.

  33. Anonymous says:

    ps. I guess this may be the critical undercurrent of your excellent blog?

    May also be why I love Kramer’s Ergot – where the RAW POWER of comics are at a premium – wayyy more than (most of) Raw – which lunged too much towards ‘gallery’ respectability?

    KEEP IT REAL!

  34. Anonymous says:

    As for Moore, his latest stuff seems to be actually holding his artists back in a way (especially in light of the Kubrick-esque control-frekery of his scripts).

    I can remember when Kevin O'Neill was really 'letting loose' on cheap b&w newsprint for rude'n'crude Pat Mills (who really did just want to entertain the kinds of kids who picked their nose and ate it). The best thing about 'Lost Girls' was Melinda Gebbie's incredible art – but Moore's writing seemed to be imposing Dave Gibbons diagrams all over her imagery (it's the text that makes Lost Girls such a chore).

    If anything, Moore always risks 'spelling too much out' in his writing style – let it breathe, Alan!

  35. ULAND says:

    Solondz already is middlebrow, imo. Good story is good story, I think. Yes, that’s trite, but it’s that simple sometimes too. Clowes/Ware know how to tell interesting stories.
    In defense of Promethea, I thought it was pretty obvious that if you weren’t interested in reading those magickal concepts unpacked, Promethea isn’t going to work.

  36. Anonymous says:

    Yeah it’s apparent Moore’s concerns are moving somewhere outside comics per se – it’s just that not all of his audience are willing to follow. His slef-conscious ‘guru’ schtick (the assumed ‘forbears’ he often namechecks: Austin Spare, William Blake, Moorcock etc. belie an attempt to enter a non-comic ‘canon’ of sorts).

    As for Ware – I really do think ‘mainstream’ acclaim is making his stuff way too precious these days (I got bored with Rusty Brown by the end of his ‘prologue’).

    And Clowes – I just wish he could go back to being laugh out loud funny again (or even just putting out a comic!).

    McSweeney’s, New Yorker et al may be pushing guys like that into a ‘literary’ world that I think jars with comics’ own mysterious energy. Comics aren’t movies, literature or ‘fine art’. The seductions of being taken seriously by these mediums don’t help, I think…

  37. T. Hodler says:

    Well yeah, Moore’s writing novels now, and doing performance art or whatever the right word is for The Birth Caul, so of course he’s moving beyond comics. I don’t have a problem with that, just as it doesn’t bother me that Jean Cocteau made some movies. Artists can work in different media, and it’s no big deal. I don’t happen to be a big fan of the magic in Moore’s Promethea, but that’s because I found the subject matter kind of impenetrable and boring, not because I have a problem with him experimenting with different kinds of subject matter.

    I’m basically not a big fan of using the term “literary” when discussing comics, because I think it causes more confusion than it helps. (I’ve rehearsed some of this before on the blog, so forgive me for being repetitious.) Almost everyone uses “literary” to refer to subject matter, and so they call Chris Ware’s work literary because most of his more recent stories have revolved around the real, mundane lives of ordinary people, but in my mind it makes more sense to use words like “literary” and “novelistic” to refer to the formal qualities of prose, the effects and techniques that best exemplify the medium of written fiction.

    We really need an adjective that can do the same work for comics that “cinematic” does for film, or “literary” does for prose, because despite his subject matter, Ware is one of the most purely “comic-book” creators currently working. Nearly everything in his recent books seems to have been conceived in order to take full advantage of the comics medium. It’s really not that different from Frank’s earlier comment about Moore: “he wrote Watchmen to highlight how the medium of comics is unique. That it would be impossible to film the series. That he used device after device within the medium to show off its power.”

    You see the same thing in movies, but people don’t seem to have any trouble separating subject matter from formal techniques there. Eric Rohmer’s movies are just as cinematic as Stephen Spielberg's, despite the fact that one generally makes films about people talking and the other generally makes movies about sharks and aliens and Nazis.

    To a certain extent, this is all a matter of taste. If a reader is more interested in comedy or satire or thrillers than "slice-of-life" fiction (for lack of a better term), than they're going to prefer Quimby the Mouse or Take the Money and Run to Jimmy Corrigan or Crimes & Misdemeanors. Personally, I love the most recent works by Ware and Clowes (though I do selfishly agree that I'd like to see more comics from Clowes), but I can understand why others might not. Sometimes I'm more in the mood for "Needledick the Bug-Fucker" than Ice Haven myself, and pull out my old Eightball issues.

    But I think it's a mistake for people to use the word "literary" pejoratively as a way to close off or shrink the artistic territory "appropriate" for comics. Imagine if comic book subject matter had never spread out after 1939. No Crumb, no Woodring ,no Tezuka, no Kirby, no Clowes, no Altergott, no Hernandez, no blah blah blah.

    I hope this makes sense! Because I need to stop writing, and I'm going to right now.

  38. Jason Overby says:

    I think the interview Frank’s citing was in TCJ #’s 119-121. It’s really great and was pretty formative for me (introduced me to Eightball, Crumb, lots of other stuff). It’s hard for me not to think of Alan Moore as just a gateway drug; I cringe re-reading Watchmen at how self-consciously clever and look-at-me-I’m-smart it is, but some of the earlier stuff (Swamp Thing, Miracleman) still shines, I guess.

  39. Frank Santoro says:

    John totleban used to come to shows in Pittsburgh when i was a kid during the mid / late 80s. He had original Swamp Thing and Miracleman pages with him. Unreal stuff.
    He taught me my first perspective trick: How to draw a couch in perspective with people sitting on it AND always said “Draw your backgrounds first.”

  40. Frank Santoro says:

    sorry, I spelled his name wrong. It’s John Totleben. Super groovy guy. Very generous to snotty kids hanging around his table.

  41. Jason Overby says:

    Yep – Totleben’s great – totally from that lineage of underground dudes who were super influenced by ECs. Wrightson was probably a pretty big deal to him, too. Lots of nice pen work. If only there were still guys like him in mainstream comics. It all looks so ugly now – no human touch. At least we have CF…

  42. Anonymous says:

    Someone needs to let C.F. loose on a major D.C. character – I nominate Green Lantern for maximum awesomeness…

  43. Frank Santoro says:

    Knock it off with the CF mainstream characters idea. That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of. Seriously.

  44. madinkbeard.com says:

    I’d rather see him finish Powr Mastrs faster than waste time on established superheroes.

  45. Anonymous says:

    Or work on his interviews. He gives bad interviews.