Sunday, May 08, 2005

A steamin' heap of trade paperbacks, at the end of which you will all call me a soulless monster!

Yes, I bought some trade paperbacks. And yes, I'm going to tell you about them. And yes, you will call me a soulless monster. I can handle it!

Batman: Year One by Miller and Mazzucchelli

You should already have these issue in some form or another, but the new edition is beautiful. The printing quality is excellent, there are several pages of extras from Mazzucchelli about the design of the book, and the colors are brilliantly redone. It's a really nice-looking book.

I won't go into the story too much except to say there are a few things I have issues with. I never liked Selina as a prostitute, and I haven't kept up with the Catwoman regular series, but I think that's been retconned out of here. It just doesn't work for me. I also don't like Gordon's "affair," because it's such a cliche. I don't care if you make Gordon "more human," but if you take Essen out of the story, he's still a conflicted cop who usually does the right thing but also makes mistakes. It didn't add anything to the story. I'm curious, though - have we ever found out what happened to his wife and son? Can anyone help me out?

This is a very nice re-examination of the Batman mythos, and, as I said, the package is gorgeous. For 20 dollars, it's a good value, even if you already own the story in another form.

Ultra: Seven Days by the Luna Brothers

Ultra is a nice book, and it's 18 dollars for a huge chunk of story, so there's that (I don't like harping on prices, but in today's economy, it must be done!). I have some of the same issues Tom the Dog has with it - namely, it's okay to show extremely gory violence, but God forbid a nipple gets in there. That's the way it is in the U.S., however, so I'm not going to go into it too much. Ultra is good, solid storytelling with good, solid art - a nice superhero book. It also has a little but of commentary on Hispanic culture, something that is nice to see.

The biggest problem I had with the book, and it's not something that will stop me from recommending it, is the parody aspects of it. The idea of turning superheroes into people who work for an agency and are sent out for specific duties is truly brilliant. However, the Luna Brothers weaken the story by turning them into something like supermodels. The reason I didn't like it is because our actual society is such a parody itself that simply substituting superheroes for models and actors doesn't really tell us anything new. Yes, it's clever to have a superhero awards show like the Academy Awards, and to have each cover of the individual comic books parody a magazine cover in "our" world, but it doesn't expose anything about our world because we already know this stuff and how stupid it is. What Ultra goes through when her one-night stand is revealed in the tabloids is no different than what dozens of celebrities go through every day. It's a clever idea, but ultimately it goes nowhere.

Still, this is a good book. The interpersonal relationships between Ultra, Aphrodite, and Cowgirl are what makes the book work. The characterization is nicely done. These people, you feel, are real, which is all you can hope for when you read a work of fiction.

Couscous Express by Brian Wood and Brett Weldele

Larry Young sent this to me as part of Chris Brown's musical extravaganza, and I appreciate Larry getting his product out there in such unusual ways. This is an old book (2001), and it's interesting, but I'm torn about how I feel.

On the one hand, it's a fun, crazy, action-packed ride. It never slows down to allow you to catch your breath, which isn't a bad thing, necessarily. Olive is a delivery girl for her parents, who run a Middle Eastern restaurant called Couscous Express. One day some evil Turks show up and threaten her family, for reasons I will leave for you to discover. Olive enlists the help of her boyfriend, Moustafa, who is a courier for various underworld elements, and they fight the Turks. Simple, no?

Well, yes and no. There's a lot going on between the frames. Olive is a typical spoiled teenager who seemingly hates her parents, but comes to realize how important they are to her. She grows up a little by the end of the book, and it's an interesting arc to her character. The bad guys are also interesting, even though they don't get a lot of screen time. Wood manages to give them life with just a little dialogue. That's tough to do.

I had just a couple of problems with the book, and they're connected. First, Olive is 16 and Moustafa is 22. They have sex. In the U.S., that's statutory rape. Now, Olive points out that her parents like Moustafa, but I don't care - it's rape. I'm sure, as well, that in the culture from which Olive's parents come, an older guy usually hooks up with a much younger girl, but I don't care - this is the U.S., and it's rape. I don't mean to belabor the point, but I teach at a school where many girls are getting pregnant by their much older boyfriends, who then ditch them. Wood doesn't even address this, which is the other problem I have with the book - the lack of cultural differences between Olive and her parents. It would have been nice to see a little more on the culture of her parents, who come from a different place, and Olive, who was presumably born here. As it stands, this is just a book about teen rebellion, and it could have been more than that. There are hints of it, but not enough.

This is a fun book, and I'm glad I read it, but I can wish for a little more, can't I?

The Irregulars by Steven Elliot-Altman, Michael Reaves, and "Bong" Dazo

I got my hopes up for this book, which I suppose is a mistake. You should never get your hopes up for anything! It's a nice book, and the art is absolutely spectacular. The details are wonderful, the large cast is well-defined, and Dazo switched between 19th-century London and a horrible alternative world easily and fluidly. The story is kind of dull, though, which is unfortunate. Professor Moriarty wants to bring hell to earth, and only the Baker Street Irregulars can stop him! There's plenty of action, nice character interaction, and a simplistic mystery, and if that's what you want, that's fine. However, when I buy something that has to do with Sherlock Holmes, I'd like a better mystery! In this, Dr. Watson is thrown in jail because a witness saw him butcher a man in the park, but it's clear very quickly not only that he didn't do it, but who the real killer is and how he framed Watson. I have spoken on mysteries in comics before, and this was another one that indicates comics writers simply aren't taking advantage of the medium as well as they could to write real gripping mysteries. As with the rest of these trades, it's a nice read, but there are flaws. The art's really nice, though.

Owly by Andy Runton

I bought Owly because I was told I must, and because it has been universally acclaimed. Well, let me tell you, gentle reader - it sucks.

Okay, I'll quantify that a bit. It sucks for anyone over the age of, maybe, eight. And that might even be too old for this book. Why, when something is "all-ages," what it really means is that no one who's even remotely near puberty will enjoy it? I'm sorry - I just hated this. I have read "children's" literature in the past - most recently Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy, so I'm not being a snob, but this just sucks. The stories are ridiculously simplistic - Owly saves a worm! Owly and Worm befriend hummingbirds! - and the art is awful (I claimed I could draw it, but I doubt if I could - some of the panels, sure, but then again, I suck at drawing, and if I can even draw one of these panels, that means the art sucks). The sentiments expressed are fine - be friends with everyone and life will be good - but those sentiments have been expressed in better form in hundreds of other places, so who cares? I always have a problem with animals acting against their nature - Owly would eat the damned worm, for crying out loud! - but I'll let it go. I will share this with my daughter when she's a bit older, but that's it. There's no reason for you to buy this unless you know small children, because it will bore anyone else to tears. Go read the Winnie-the-Pooh books for a more subtle take on what it means to be a friend. Those are true classics. Owly, on the other hand, sucks.

There. I said it. I feel better.

37 Comments:

Blogger Mark said...

I'm curious, though - have we ever found out what happened to his wife and son? Can anyone help me out?

They leave in an OGN, Batman: Night Cries, by Archie Goodwin and Scott Hampton. Batman hunts a serial killer of child abusers. It's pretty good, as the name Archie Goodwin should indicate. Basically, Gordon loses his temper at his kid, and although nothing happens, he realizes things aren't working.

S'funny, just picked it up (and Son of the Demon) for five Canadian dollars on Friday.

5/08/2005 12:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The reviews were awful. You are a soulless monster.

5/08/2005 12:08:00 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

Good to know, Mark. I'm glad someone didn't forget about them.

I'm sad that I'm a soulless monster.

5/08/2005 12:23:00 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

As someone noted above, Barbara and the Gordon kid bailed shortly after Year One.

I have to disagree about your affair comments, though. I really thought bringing in Essen and having Gordon (already a flawed cop who was struggling to maintain balance in a disgustingly corrupt town) fall for her was excellent. He had to fall apart before he could pick himself up, and that's what we see at the end of the book. Of course, in later stories he loses because his wife bails anyway, but I thought it really made Gordon not only seem more human and fallible but it really stole the show from Batman. If anything, the story is as much if not more about Gordon.

5/08/2005 03:11:00 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

That's a good point, Alex, and i agree that Year One is as much, if not more, about Gordon than Batman, simply because of the conceit by the DC editorial office to keep Bruce Wayne an enigma. However, I just didn't like the way it was done because of the stereotypical nature of the whole thing. In a corrupt Gotham, it would have been more interesting to see Gordon tempted by the professional corruption, in order to raise up his family. That way, he is still a family man, but he's still corrupted. It would have worked just as well, and it wouldn't have been so standard-issue, which I think the "affair" is (I put it in quotes because I don't think he actually sleeps with Essen, so it's not a go-all-the-way kind of thing). I like the "break down Gordon to show what a good guy he is" aspect of the story, just not the execution.

5/08/2005 04:00:00 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

Jesus, you are a soulless monster. I read the free Owly comic yesterday and was utterly charmed. I can't even imagine anyone not at least admitting it's good kid readin'. Man, get this checked, 'cause now I'm worried about you.

5/08/2005 04:23:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Yeah, if you thought Owly was too kiddish, I can understand that.

But that it "sucked"?

I think that's a bit much.

The "is Owly too kiddish" question IS one this site has raised before, though!

http://goodcomics.blogspot.com/2005/01/owly-referendum.html

5/08/2005 04:42:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

I liked the Jim/Sarah relationship in Year One.

I think it would translate well to film, as well.

As for the "Selina is a hooker" part, yeah, that was dumb.

Honestly? I don't think Miller even put much thought into it...I think it was just like an afterthought.

A BAD afterthought, but at least it wasn't, like, a major part of the comic.

5/08/2005 04:44:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

As for James, he was just recently used (well, if 2002 is recent, that is) in a Legends of the Dark Knight story by John Ostrander, showing Gordon going back to Chicago with his son's life at stake.

5/08/2005 04:47:00 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

Good kid readin'? Maybe, but only for very young children, which doesn't make it "all-ages." I'll stand behind my contention that it sucks, though, partly because of all the praise that has been heaped on it. Look, I don't see reasonable adults telling everyone to go out and buy The Monster at the End of this Book (starring Grover!), even though Owly, I would argue, is on the same level. We read Grover's book to my daughter, and she likes it, but it's not great literature. I read books when I was a kid that were complex and mature and could be enjoyed by kids - the Winnie-the-Pooh books, as I mentioned in my post, the Chronicles of Narnia, anything by Ellen Raskin. The reason Owly sucks, I would say, is because it sinks down to a level instead of trying to lift up. Hell, even Mama, Do You Love Me? (another Mia favorite) has some merit in terms of teaching kids about other cultures, teaching them about true familial love and seeing beyond the surface. And it's a board book!

Sorry. Owly sucks.

5/08/2005 05:36:00 PM  
Anonymous xxx said...

"As for the Selina is a hooker part"

Does the book actually SAY she's a hooker? (As opposed to a dominatrix or something)

5/08/2005 05:48:00 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

Yeah, she's definitely a hooker in the book. In retrospect, it might not have been the best idea. But I thought it was interesting. I can't say any of the latter retcons made for better origins for Selina. Though, I'm fond of the more mystical and weird origin that was rehashed in Batman Returns.

Now, on to Greg's point:

"That's a good point, Alex, and i agree that Year One is as much, if not more, about Gordon than Batman, simply because of the conceit by the DC editorial office to keep Bruce Wayne an enigma. However, I just didn't like the way it was done because of the stereotypical nature of the whole thing. In a corrupt Gotham, it would have been more interesting to see Gordon tempted by the professional corruption, in order to raise up his family. That way, he is still a family man, but he's still corrupted. It would have worked just as well, and it wouldn't have been so standard-issue, which I think the "affair" is (I put it in quotes because I don't think he actually sleeps with Essen, so it's not a go-all-the-way kind of thing). I like the "break down Gordon to show what a good guy he is" aspect of the story, just not the execution."

I think the professional temptation is there, though. Here's a guy who left Chicago with a tarnished rep coming to the hotbed of police corruption. One would think that it'd be easier for him to just let go, cross his fingers and make some cash. But Gordon overcomes his previous (alluded) missteps and comes out on top, but still a human with human urges. Also, I'm pretty sure he sealed the deal with Essen, but maybe I just haven't read Year One in a while. I got the new edition as well, and I'll probably review it for The Herald.

5/08/2005 06:59:00 PM  
Anonymous xxx said...

"Yeah, she's definitely a hooker in the book."

Where does it say that?

Holly is one, obviously, but I don't see any unambiguous reference to Selina being one.

5/08/2005 07:44:00 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

Alex: I suppose he does have that "reputation" from his days in Chicago, but it's barely brought up in the book. The adultery made me like him less, especially with a pregnant wife - you would think he would be decent enough to resist his feelings, even if he has them. That's just me, though - adultery has become such a cliche that it just seems too easy on Miller's part.

As for Selina being a hooker, yeah, it's pretty definite. Her first line in the book is "Oh. Geez ... Can't be vice. We're paid up." Seems pretty clear to me. She also has a man in the room while she's saying it. And she's working the dominatriz outfit as well. Later, she punches out the pimp and tells Holly, "We're changing our line of work." Yep - she's a ho.

5/08/2005 08:39:00 PM  
Anonymous xxx said...

"She also has a man in the room while she's saying it. And she's working the dominatriz outfit as well. Later, she punches out the pimp and tells Holly, 'We're changing our line of work.' Yep - she's a ho."

All of the above could be interpreted as her just being a dominatrix, not a prostitute.

5/08/2005 08:59:00 PM  
Blogger layne said...

I was going to mention the Narnia books, but you beat me to it; the first time I heard about Owly's sense of 'childlike wonder' or 'innocent charm', it set off the BS detector. Maybe some folks think that stuff like this proves that 'Hey! Comics Aren't Just For 30 Year Olds Anymore!', but this primativist pap on pulp is just as arrogantly pretentious in intention and execution as my run-on sentences.
(Same goes for some of Kolchaka's stuff too. Monkey Vs. Robot, my ass.
And kittens! Anyone else here hate kittens too?!?)

5/08/2005 10:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Brad Curran said...

"I never liked Selina as a prostitute, and I haven't kept up with the Catwoman regular series, but I think that's been retconned out of here."

I've read but all of one issue of Ed Brubaker's Catwoman run, and it seems to me that her background as a hooker was part of his take on the character, they just didn't beat you over the head with it. Holly was a major supporting character, and her background as a hooker was mentioned, and I'm pretty sure that there were some allusions to Selina's days as one, too. She just didn't wax about it specifically in first person narration or anything. Once I get that last issue, I'm doing a blog post about how good those comics are, by the way.

Also, you're a souless monster, Greg, especially because you probably made Eliot Johnson cry. But you're less of one than layne. Say bad things about Kochalka and Owly all you want, but leave the kittens alone, jerk!

5/08/2005 10:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Brad Curran said...

That should be all but one. layne's still a jerk for hating kittens, though.

5/08/2005 10:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Brad Curran said...

"If anything, the story is as much if not more about Gordon."

Yeah, I've always felt the same way. I think that's why I like it more than DKR. Mazzuchelli's art doesn't hurt, either (although I like Miller's).

5/09/2005 03:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Stefan said...

To say that "Owly sucked" shows a total ignorance of the comics medium itself. Yes, the book is mostly aimed at kids, but there is a mastery of the craft going on that so many comics and creators today lack.

Add to it, you don't seem to understand that stories can have their own reailities. In a review of Superman I doubt you'd say "I've always had a problem with humanoids flying -- Superman would fall right on his face, for crying out loud! - but I'll let it go."

That is just lazy writing. As lazy as saying "It sucked" about a dialogue free book you could follow without a problem rather than "I'm just not the intended audience."

What a horrid review. This isn't even a case of somebody gausring their own territory. I am not a fan of this type of sentimentality either but the craft and care that the books drips of is undeniable. Undeniable to anybody who understands that drawing and storytelling are not synonymous terms, that is.

5/09/2005 11:48:00 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

Wow - I'm ignorant of the comics medium - that's harsh. I guess I can throw away all the comics I have collected over the past 17 years, because I don't understand them.

I have always had a problem with anthropomorphizing animals and ignoring their basic instincts, not just in Owly. Sure, I ignore it, just like I ignore the inherent disregard for physics that most superhero comics have. At least superhero comics attempt to explain some of the things that happen in their pages, even if it's gibberish most of the time.

Mastery of craft? Because it tells a story? Sure it does, but that doesn't mean it's any good. Everyone's favorite punching bag, Rob Liefeld, can draw people, but that doesn't mean he's any good at telling a story. I've said it before and I'll say it again - there are plenty of books aimed at kids out there that don't insult their intelligence or have a pollyanna worldview. Owly doesn't tell us ANYTHING about friendship, because there's no alternative. Owly is simply friends with Worm and the hummingbirds because he's swell. So what?

And the "care" that went into it? Again, so what? I'm sure the crappiest author on the planet loves his or her work - but that doesn't mean it's not crap.

Look, read Owly all you want. This is America. Love the simplistic drawings, the cloying sentimentality, the stupid "no dialogue, but look at the groovy thought balloons!" way of expressing thoughts - I don't care. Like I said, I will read this to my almost 3-year-old daughter, and hope by the time she's 4 she'll have outgrown its pap. Just don't tell me it's "all-ages," because that's bullshit.

Unlike past contributors to this blog, I do believe that all opinions are valid. I like lots of crap, and I can't justify it but still laugh off people who point out to me why it's crap. In my mind, Owly is crap. Not because I'm too old for it, but because it's crap.

Let's see - more "all-ages" stuff that's better than Owly: "The Lion King," "Bambi," "Old Yeller," "A Christmas Carol," Shel Silverstein's work, Dr. Seuss, "Peter Pan," "The Wizard of Oz," - and that's just off the top of my head.

5/09/2005 12:31:00 PM  
Blogger Shaenon said...

I think Owly has been overpraised within the tiny sphere of comics fandom (which is understandable, since it's practically the only decent comic for little kids coming out of the American market right now), but it's obviously not "crap." It's well-drawn, the story is nicely told, and the silent "dialogue" is really ingenious. I don't want to get into a big fight defending Owly, because it's not like my favorite thing ever or anything, but this type of lazy criticism gets under my skin.

And of course it's possible to be a hardcore fanboy with piles of Batman brochures sitting around the house and still be ignorant of the comics medium. Come, on you're on the Internet. You've met these people.

5/09/2005 01:26:00 PM  
Blogger Ed Cunard said...

Leaving out the cheap shots at my mates Joe and Alex, and the whole Owly debacle (I actually don't care for Owly as much as most folks, but I do disagree to the quality of the artwork, which I think is stellar), I just need to toss this bit out there:

In a corrupt Gotham, it would have been more interesting to see Gordon tempted by the professional corruption, in order to raise up his family. That way, he is still a family man, but he's still corrupted. It would have worked just as well, and it wouldn't have been so standard-issue, which I think the "affair" is (I put it in quotes because I don't think he actually sleeps with Essen, so it's not a go-all-the-way kind of thing). I like the "break down Gordon to show what a good guy he is" aspect of the story, just not the execution.

I don't think it would work as well your way. Cliche or not, the affair demonstrates that Gordon isn't necessarily a good guy, but that he is a good cop, which is the part of his life that he concentrates on at the expense of other concerns.

5/09/2005 03:38:00 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

You know what, Ed? That's a beautiful way to put it. He concentrates on being a good cop at the expense of the other aspects of his life. I never thought of that. I'll have to mull that over.

My last word (probably): Shit, I didn't realize not liking Owly was akin to calling your mother a ho. Sorry. I didn't realize everyone had a hand in creating it and feel negative words about it personally. As I said before, I like a lot of crap, and freely admit it, but I would never say someone doesn't know anything about movies just because they enjoy Deuce Bigolo (I would make fun of their taste, sure, but not their knowledge of movies themselves). It's just a freakin' comic book. The world's not going to end if I don't like it.

Go buy Bone if you want a true "all-ages" comic book.

5/09/2005 04:10:00 PM  
Blogger Nik said...

I think "sucked" is a word that should basically be avoided in criticism that is trying to be considered thoughtful. Even if you dont' intend it that way, it's a word that comes off as lazy and lacking insight. I've coached writers for years, and "sucked" is a word I give the big no-no to. Other than that, haven't read the book, so can't comment.

5/09/2005 04:47:00 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

Good point, Nik. Where you been?

5/09/2005 05:46:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

"It's well-drawn, the story is nicely told, and the silent "dialogue" is really ingenious."

I think Shaenon is correct.

Forget "innocent charm" or "charmless wonder," I think it is just a well-told, well-executed story.

That is might not be your cup of tea, storywise, is fine. It wasn't mine, either.

But, like Stefan noted, you were able to follow the story very easily without a problem, which is a mark of a GOOD storyteller, not a poor one.

As for Owly's motivations, the dude is clearly lonely. If anything, I think Runton knocked home the theme of the book TOO much. Why is he friends with the worm and the hummingbirds? Because he's lonely! For a time, he was actually willing to hold the hummingbirds CAPTIVE because he was so lonely!! But because he's a good dude, he eventually realized that that was wrong.

Next, like Nik pointed out, your repeated use of "sucks" was really off-putting, perhaps because that is not how you normally talk. Since you don't normally express yourself with words like "sucks" and "crap," I think it was MORE off-putting than normal.

Finally, "Unlike past contributors to this blog, I do believe that all opinions are valid."

Yes..you think their opinions are valid, but that they like "crap."

Was that really meant to come off as a positive thing?

5/09/2005 09:39:00 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

Well, yeah, he's good at telling a story. Okay. I still don't like it and don't think the themes expressed in the work are anything to write a whole comic about. I shouldn't have used "sucks," I guess, but you, Mr. Brian, are the first person to offer any reasons why it doesn't, which I appreciate. Everyone else was just charmed by it. Okay. And again, it's just my opinion. I'm not going to think any less of anyone for liking it. Seriously. Like I said, I like plenty of crap. I'll come out of the closet and say I still own Liefeld's New Mutants and actually like them, in a weird kind of way. No, they ain't good comics, but what the hell.

I certainly didn't mean to insult anyone who likes Owly. I don't care if you like Owly, and I don't care if you think it's the best thing to read to your children or your friends. Go for it! I don't like it, and gave some reasons. Maybe they weren't good reasons, but there you have it.

It got everyone stirred up, though! Who knew?

5/09/2005 09:50:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

I dunno, I think Shaenon did a pretty nice job of describing why she liked it.

That's why I quoted her...hehe.

Really, the most impressive thing about Owly to me (and I think the most impressive thing about Owly to Shaenon as well) was how well Runton got the story across without dialogue.

It is very hard to do, and he made it look easy.

5/10/2005 12:03:00 AM  
Blogger Eliot Johnson said...

Well, i'm mr. owly-fan, so i figure i should reply....

No, Brad's wrong...seeing Owly slammed didn't drive me to tears. Ya know what did drive me to tears though? Owly.

That's how powerful it was to me. If you didn't feel it...you didn't feel it and i'm sorry that you didn't 'cause it has brought me and my friends endless amounts of joy. Andy mentioned that to me when i first met him at SPX last year...he knew it'd be something you either feel or you don't.

Myself and two of my friends felt it so much to cry and, to me, that's enough. If it makes us on the emotional level of an 8-year-old, then, hey, didn't you have more fun at 8 anyway? And, besides, it has been proven by the success at FCBD that it IS a great book for kids and we need that in comics.

And myself, Shawn Hoke, Mike Bullock, Randy Lander, Rich Watson, my friend Rose, my friend Cody...we all felt it.

Buzz-words aside...Andy was able to translate universal emotions absolutely perfectly for me and others. No one work of art (no matter if it's comics, painting, movie, whatever) is gonna resonate with everyone and that is what we have here (and with those guys who used to write here).

Owly does say a lot about friendship (without any words). A fair bit of the point of the book is that Owly isn't supposed to be friends with Wormy (here we get the anthromowhatsitizing of animals), and yet, he is. Anyone who's been in a relationship or friendship they're not supposed to be in felt that (especially when the parents became so afraid of owly). There are nuances that Runton conveys...things that almost everyone has been through or will go through. It's not nearly as simple as you make it out to be. But it is universal.

And the whole thing is absolutely beautifully drawn. you don't like it...you don't like it, but Runton tells an awful lot of story with his art and it looks pretty doing it.

Bottom line is that Owly is just a book. And i'm just a guy who really likes said book 'cause it connected with me. i don't have a problem with ppl who didn't like it, and i try as hard as i can to hype it w/o buzzwords (although others do use buzzwords) 'cause it just meant so much to me and i want it to be powerful to other people. bottom line.

5/10/2005 12:41:00 AM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

I think the whole thing was worth it just to hear that, Eliot.

Very well said.

5/10/2005 02:33:00 AM  
Blogger Chad said...

best post discussion EVER!

greg, I hope you've learned the lesson I learned: never, ever EVER diss an animal comic.

of course, no one swore off ever coming to comics should be good after your post- so I'm still officially the evil one. :)

5/10/2005 08:05:00 AM  
Blogger MarkAndrew said...

"Greg--I have always had a problem with anthropomorphizing animals and ignoring their basic instincts, not just in Owly. Sure, I ignore it, just like I ignore the inherent disregard for physics that most superhero comics have. At least superhero comics attempt to explain some of the things that happen in their pages, even if it's gibberish most of the time."

Seems t'me like you have a problem with the funny animal genre of comics.. (And yes, Virginia, waaaay back then even corporate publishing houses used to publish Funny Animal comics.)

And, well, speaking as a fan of old comics 'n Newspaper comics, that's a little hard to process.

(Pogo? Do you not like POGO? ARE YOU MAD?!?! And geez... Carl Barks... The man just dissed Carl Barks. ... Breathe, Mark. Breathe.)

Funny Animal comics aren't animal stories. They're people stories, dolled up in animal clothes to make 'em funnier or cuter. (Or, in the case of books like Maus or to provide the audience with a kind of ironic distance from the material.)

Owly wasn't an Owl. Owly is a person. But Owls are cuter than people, so Owly is a person drawn like an Owl, because the whole story is ABOUT cute.

Simply put: If you draw a guy fallin' down, the audience says "Ow." If you draw an anthropomorphic bear falling down the audience laughs and says "Awww. Izzums is Soooo cute!"

So funny animals are an easy way to achieve story-telling ends.

And I loved Owly. Loved it better'n anything I've read from DC or Marvel in ten years. Love it so much I made it a little comic-nighty, and keep it under my pillow for warmth.

It wasn't aimng for "Chunky Rice" style nature-of-friendship insightfulness. Owly was tryin' for "Cute," and I think it delivered in spades.

(Plus, as a comics-as-medium nerd, I've never the pictograms-as-dialouge used so effectively. And I'm a hugggge sucker for novelty.)

5/11/2005 02:57:00 AM  
Blogger layne said...

If I want cute, I'll look in a mirror.

5/11/2005 07:33:00 PM  
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Senselessly biased against hookers and cheating husbands.

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