Comics. What are they good for?

For the discussion of Movies, Television, Comics, and other existential distractions.

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Postby Moderator » Thu Jun 08, 2006 12:34 pm

Rick. I just made a disturbing connection.

I never realized, until just now, how much the x-ray of Homer Simpson resembles Darth Vader...


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Postby markabaddon » Thu Jun 08, 2006 12:53 pm

Rick, I like Morrison's work on X-Men up until the final story arc he wrote (that story set in the future was just confusing and poorly written), but have not read much else by him. I heard that Seven Soldiers was very good, but I started reading Frankenstein and it was too bizarre for me. This coming from a man who considers "Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death" classic cinema......

Alex loved the comic, and I will talk with you off line about some more specifics around that
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Postby Ben » Sun Jun 11, 2006 9:51 am

Eric Martin wrote:Not all comics are just for kids, Ben. Only the ones you read.


What the FUCK made you form a completely random assumption like that? Is it because of my old "Washu" username, or the times I've mentioned my own fondness for the character of the Hulk? I made those comments roughly five years ago. Your comeback might have worked then, but it doesn't work now. Regardless of how difficult it is for you to believe, I've grown up...something whcih you've yet to do.

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Postby robochrist » Sun Jun 11, 2006 10:28 am

Ben,

"Regardless of how difficult it is for you to believe, I've grown up...something whcih you've yet to do."

And even if you ARE more grown up, there's still some great stuff in some of those books - the point I was trying to make earlier.

I remember the Daredevil books by Frank Miller and, prior, Len Wein (remember Micah Sinn?). If THOSE were a current run I would be picking them up. (Then, again, those WERE reaching a higher age demographic)

Ben, I read your comments in the Pavilion re: X-Men 3 with interest. I've wanted to see the film, relying on my "cinematic third eye" upon hearing certain lines and catching splices from the previews (most of the time I can tell you if it's going to be piece of shit; not always, believe it or not). I sensed the movie was going to work, and, of course Ebert and Roeper, lo and behold, give it a really good review.

We don't always agree, but because I like your passion, I'm still going to see it but with your advisement in mind. Eventually, we'll compare notes.

Right now, I'm a bit more anxious to see "AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH".

(One more item about the X-Men movies: frankly, I've wanted them to knock it off with the "NASCAR" uniforms and start using, faithfully, the costume designs from the books; I wish they'd stop being afraid of 'em because they, in my view, look great. And with the success of Spider-Man, et al, well...bring on the "spandex" for chrissake. I was recently googling the illustration work on X-Men throughout its history from the earliest; I saw the Neal Adams books (when Beast was still human): really, really beautiful. Being an illustrator myself, I don't think - if I were doing these movies - I could resist using his stuff, costume design included, as the basis for the "look" of those movies)

rich

Postby rich » Sun Jun 11, 2006 6:11 pm

Again. Too seriously. A joke, Ben.

You guys are making this too easy to take potshots at you. Relax a little. Get laid. Or, at least smoke some decent pot.

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Postby Ben » Mon Jun 12, 2006 12:26 am

rich wrote:Again. Too seriously. A joke, Ben.

You guys are making this too easy to take potshots at you. Relax a little. Get laid. Or, at least smoke some decent pot.


The question is, why do you behave so uppity when some of us take a few potshots back?

rich

Postby rich » Mon Jun 12, 2006 12:10 pm

Ben,
If you had taken a potshot at Eric, I probably wouldn't have minded. But you didn't. You defended yourself. It's hard to defend yourself in response to a joke. Even if you thought the joke was cruel, by rising to whatever bait you perceived it to be, you've given the joke more credence than it's worth, thus substantiating it to some degree.

Seriously. Tempers are flaring up a bit so I will resolve at this point to not make any asides or comments to help fan the flames. At least for a couple of days. Tell you what, no little quips or posting from me just to make some smartass comment until this weekend.

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Postby David Loftus » Mon Jun 12, 2006 2:35 pm

robochrist wrote:Right now, I'm a bit more anxious to see "AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH".



Saw it over the weekend. It's packin' 'em in here in true-blue Portland.

Decent, but not spectacular work. A few lovely surprises (I think that's a Groening animated short, early on), and a few unpleasant ones (more polar bears drowning because there's more and more open water between ice shelves and bergs in the Arctic, whose cap will disappear even faster in the handful of years to come).

This is not Al Gore's movie, but an independent filmmaker's encapsulation of Gore's on-the-road slide show, beefed up with some personal background on the man, clips of the presentation in the People's Republic, etc. I think if it had been in Gore's control, he would have preferred not to repeat anything about national elections past. As it is, the film is still reasonably restrained, in all respects.

Although I applaud the results, I am left with several questions, out of curiosity:

1. Does Gore write all his own material?

2. How are all these junkets to the North Pole, Amazon, Antarctica, etc., financed?

3. Though the film makes a good case for implicating global warming in a lot of recent, untoward natural disasters, I (since I live in a temperate zone, and more than 100 feet above the current sea level), whether it can in any way affect tectonic plate behavior, and thereby earthquakes, as well?
War is, at first, the hope that one will be better off; next, the expectation that the other fellow will be worse off; then, the satisfaction that he isn't any better off; and, finally, the surprise at everyone's being worse off. - Karl Kraus

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Postby markabaddon » Tue Jun 13, 2006 1:39 pm

Rob,

What did you think of Grant Morrison's interpretation of the X Uniforms? I personally did not really care for them, as they just looked boring. Give me the old skimpy outfits of Storm and Scarlet Witch any day.
Governments, if they endure, always tend increasingly toward aristrocratic forms. No gov't in history has been known to evade this pattern. And as the aristocracy develops, gov't tends more and mroe to act exclusively in the interests of the ruling class

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Postby Jan » Wed Jun 14, 2006 4:44 am

Mark, found this one yesterday, thought I'd quote it here:

At first, comics were considered throwaways. They were considered trash, even while they were fulfilling their most important role, which I referred to earlier, of teaching an entire generation. Very simply and accuratelöy, they became the children's books, the picture books, of modern age. An age that couldn't believe in Grimm's fairy tales, immedeatley melded with the comic book. Instead of Gilgamesh and instead of the Colossus of Rhodes, we wound up with Superman and Batman... and they were the myths for the modern age. That's what laid them low for along time, because society kept saying - well, not all of society, but that secret cabal of blue-noesed intellectuals, and business people kept saying - comics were just claptrap for kiddies. The business people wanted to keep them cheap trash because they mae more money from them..." (HE 1994)

Also: "It's an art form that has to fight its own Fifth Column to be recognized as an art form."

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Postby Eric_Martin » Wed Jun 14, 2006 7:24 am

>Instead of Gilgamesh and instead of the Colossus of Rhodes, we wound up with Superman and Batman... and they were the myths for the modern age. <

I understand the sentiment here, but I think comparing Batman to Gilgamesh is specious. Gilgamesh (and the Iliad, and Beowulf, et al) are epic poems that speak out across millenia, and there is a level of artistry and accomplishment in these works that Superman does not approach, on any level.

Comic books are entertainment, like rock bands. And like rock bands, they can achieve a certain quality of craft within their own thin paremeters, but they cannot be equated with masterpieces of human acheivement like the Pyramids.

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Postby Moderator » Wed Jun 14, 2006 8:37 am

Eric -
I'm not so sure, here. Taken in its entirety, the Superman mythos may have some staying power. If you're looking strictly at the currently published comic (which I haven't) you may be able to dismiss it as a "mere" comic book. (I put the words in quotes, since, as with any art form, you find both true art and complete trash in its gamut).

But as an overall cultural icon, with the crossovers into television, film and other forms, Superman (the character) serves as a reflection of the society in which he was created -- which is precisely why characters such as Beowulf, King Arthur, Don Quixote and Gilgamesh fascinate us to this day.

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Postby Rudiger Treehorn » Wed Jun 14, 2006 9:41 am

The major problem with the old mythology = comics chestnut: Myths and legends were things people actually believed in, or when we're talking literature (say The Odyssey) developed directly out of things people believed in (the gods, history, heroes who had some basis in historical fact). Comic book heroes lack all these attributes.

That isn't to say that Beowulf or The Iliad wasn't entertainment told in mead-halls or around campfires across a large geographical area long before it was set to paper or papyrus. But it was entertainment that spoke to where these people had come from and what they wanted to be (or were supposed to be). Superman may speak to the latter part of that equation, but Superman is not a historical or quasi-historical figure of central importance to a particular ethnic or racial or national group's long-developing sense of self. Superman is a child's version of Heracles, without sexual or tragic dimension.

Finally, approaching these things as literature of social, cultural and religious importance (rather than as myths or legends) -- ie. from looking at The Odyssey as it is set down and then holding it up against Superman...

Well, there's one Odyssey, embodying Odysseus et al. Odysseus shows up in other literary texts before, then and later, but the Odyssey is a singular work that defines virtually everything there is to know about Odysseus (and can also be counterpointed with the Odysseus of The Iliad). There is no overarching Superman text -- there are, instead, hundreds of thousands of radio shows, toys and comic book and comic strip stories working together to create the gestalt Superman.

But there is no seminal great work of art spanning hundreds of pages that can be leaned up against the Odyssey of which we can say 'Here it is -- it informs everything that comes after, and it is by itself a remarkable work of art that has enlightened and entertained people for about 3000 years.'

And keep in mind, I like superhero comic books.

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Postby Eric_Martin » Wed Jun 14, 2006 12:22 pm

Steve, I would agree that Superman, Batman, and hell, Plastic Man might carry the weight as archetypes that Ulysses and his pals did.

I suppose I was commenting on the craft behind the myth...in my opinion, there is no comparison between epic poetry and comic book scripting or penciling.

That's not to say that excellence in a given field can't be achieved. Is there anything more sublime than the guitar-bass-drums interplay in the solo break on the Stones' "She Was Hot?" I'll listen to that any day over anything by Schubert, but the standards he is compared against, and the artistic criteria he works with, are significantly more complex and rich than what Mick and Keith are using.

rich

Postby rich » Wed Jun 14, 2006 1:26 pm

Rudiger Treehorn wrote:The major problem with the old mythology = comics chestnut: Myths and legends were things people actually believed in, or when we're talking literature (say The Odyssey) developed directly out of things people believed in (the gods, history, heroes who had some basis in historical fact). Comic book heroes lack all these attributes...

...But it was entertainment that spoke to where these people had come from and what they wanted to be (or were supposed to be). Superman may speak to the latter part of that equation, but Superman is not a historical or quasi-historical figure of central importance to a particular ethnic or racial or national group's long-developing sense of self.


There's no way I'm gonna compare The Odyssey to the "myth" of Superman, but perhaps we do believe in Superman, or the ideals that this Superman stands for. Maybe we're creating the gods, the history, and the heroes right now so that 3000 years from now we'll have this "old" mythology to discuss.

And I would say that Superman is of central importance, maybe not in the way you describe, but, again, the ideals of what he is SUPPOSED to be and what we are SUPPOSED to be. After all, the mythology that we all know and love when we talk about Zeus and his brood, all started out as stories that evolved and changed depending on the speaker. But the core of the story remained, and I think the core of Superman's story will remain.

By the way, I don't think this goes for all comic books. Actually I think this may only apply to Supes and Spider-Man. Two vasstly different heroes, but with themes that resonate with what one may possibly consider myth.


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