Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Aaron Shunga's Recent reads

Cerebus:  Form and Void- David Sim

This book is an ambitious meld between fantasy and a critique of Ernest Hemingway.  Aside from being entirely cerebral, it is accompanied by very powerfully drawn winter scenes in a beautiful, photorealistic style.  Many objects are depicted as suspended fragments of shadow.  There is a long flashback featuring Ernest Hemingway's wife taking us through a recollection of her safari in Africa.  The story is overall effective in making us feel the sense of desperation during a blizzard and the anguish of such a long, arduous trail.

My gripes are with the pacing and the composition.  A good deal of the scenes could stand to be illustrated in a more conventional style, as varying panel sizes tend to needlessly divert attention from the story.  A lot of dialogue had a tendency to change font and even include objects in the sound effects that represent letters (scissors as the letter P.)  I found these variations to be unnecessary, purist that I am.  A lot of the word balloons were disembodied and so it was unclear who the speaker was.

Perhaps such conceptual experiments with the graphic novel medium are just gymnastics performed by people who want intellectual gratification, from themselves just as much as the reader.  In other words, they're rather masturbatory.

But I suppose that's what happens when you create a gigantic literary and philosophical epic foundation to justify drawing an Aardvark fucking a blonde.

Buddy Does Seattle- Peter Bagge

Hilarious, raw, and dismal.  The protagonist Buddy Bradley essentially manages to emotionally sabotage his life for months at a time, drinking himself into a stupor and being too blunt for his own good.  The grotesque characters that change shape according to their emotional states and the facial features that mutate drastically from panel to panel are the perfect medium to convey the constant insanity that is Peter Bagge's HATE comics.

The dialogue is expertly done, every line is clever, fluid, and suited to the sheer depravity of the characters that never recess.  It's an accurate depiction of the early nineties.  It really hits home.  When he tries to manage the failed band, "Leonard and the Love Gods", or ends up sleeping with a psychotic girl Lisa and her roommate Val, shortly after living with both of them, it just hits home what an incestual nightmare the short end of the stick in Bohemia is.  With no hope of escaping their terrible jobs, people become wild animals, clamoring for some kind of sanity and decency in a world, anger gnawing at their stomachs like an alcohol induced ulcer.

Buddy ends up moving to his parent's house in upstate New York and the book ends there, where enough emotional dynamite is planted to cause an explosion for hundreds of nasty pages to come.

Dark comedy, I'm an addict.  More please!

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