Tuesday, August 28, 2007

O Captain, My Captain

Photo by Alan LightToday would be Jack Kirby's 90th birthday. My esteem for the man and his work has only increased over the years.

One of my earliest comics, one I still have today (sans cover), is an 70's 80-page reprint of some of his best Captain America stories. I'm always struck by the sheer power of those pages. In my mind it represents the apex of his style, having moved past the lumpiness of those early FF issues, finding that dynamic hard edge and energy that would forever be attributed to the King.

It is my great sadness that I never got to meet the man and thank him for his work. The closest I came was at the 1986 (maybe '87, my memory falters, and my Google-fu is weak today) at the San Diego Comic Con. But I was young and stupid, that 80-page giant buried by newer, flashier fare back home. I should have found him and shook his hand.

I miss his wide open creativity. There are only a few creators working today that get it, that get Jack. To be like Jack is not to ape his style or to trade in his ideas, but it is to embrace all the wild, crazy implications of living in the world of tomorrow today. The man lived through some crazy times, and came out the other end with a sense of optimism and abandon.

It saddens me that there is a lack of that kind of imagination today. It saddens me that there's such a focus on super-realism that takes too long to render. Jack cranked out the pages, and didn't worry if he had the right references. If the man fell, he fell forward, letting his hard-won skills and enthusiasm save the day.

Photo courtesy of Alan Light, who has posted a great gallery of photos from the 1982 San Diego Comic Con


Monday, August 27, 2007

Quiet Place of Reading

I've been buying more comics than I can read lately, particularly in the attractive OGN/TPB format. Here's a few at the top of my to-be-read pile, and while I had to have them in the first place:

Ex Machina: Smoke Smoke TPB - Late to the BKV party, I've been picking up this series, as well as Runaways, in trade. The story arcs feel much more satisfying when presented in block form. The thing I like most about Ex Machina is the way that it supports multiple genres (political drama, superhero deconstruction, horror) effortlessly. Plus, there's always some wildcard WTF moment (like what happened to Jackson Georges and his family) that makes me worry about where this is all headed.

[Edit] Finished this last night. Kind of anticlimactic resolution to the fireman/break-in villain, though this collection certainly seems to be setting the seeds of Hundred's downfall that's hinted at in the opening to the series. We see someone close to Mitchell plotting his political ruin (whose identity isn't really a shocker) and we see a piece of the Great Machine's past catch up to him in a particularly heart-breaking way.

My favorite is the last bit, a standalone story about Bradbury. It explains why he remains so loyal to Hundred. I believe it also hints at how he could also be Hundred's worst enemy. Time will tell.

Good as Lily OGN - I read Same Difference and Other Stories by Derek Kirk Kim on friend Kiyoshi's recommendation. I liked it well enough to snap up this offering from the Minx line. The cover art reminds me of Jaime Hernandez's work.

Notes for a War Story OGN - I ran across Gipi's work in the Best American Nonrequired Reading 2006. Work like this makes me think that I am missing out on a lot of great comics by living in this country. Sigh.

Pyongyang OGN - Also brought to my attention by Best American Nonrequired Reading 2006. I worked my way through about a third of this one, and I forsee picking up Delisle's other work. The content and the style seem to be perfectly matched as it presents a journal of his stay in communist North Korea.