Archive for September 2008
Tom Hart links:
From Tom Spurgeon at the Comics Reporter:
“People forget how amazing that burst of early ’90s Tom Hart minis was, and they still hold up as perfect little comic books…”
Read that in his great run-down of what he calls “The 50 Things That Every Comics Collection Truly Needs”
Lastly, I’ll be moderating a discussion with Matt Madden and Jessica Abel at Housing Works in NYC.
Creating a Graphic Novel: Matt Madden and Jessica Abel discuss their working methods
Wednesday, October 1
And what the heck- another sneak peek at Ali’s House by Margo Dabaie and me, coming soon.
Posted a bunch of Hutch Owen comic strip samples at Flickr. I’m overwhelmed with delight by this image:
Being so inspired by this stream of “retronomoapeya” (above), I posted my first photostream to flickr, a batch of giant JAck Kirby croppings I made a while back:
Go for it!
I recently wrote a combination review of Dan Clowes’ Caricature (10 years late), Osamu Tezuka’s Apollo’s Song and John Darnielle’s Master of Reality. Look for it in Picturebox’s COMICS COMICS next issue, but here’s some out of context excerpts about Darnielle’s book, which brought to me to tears over coffee in a sunny cafe in Gainesville.
Darnielle’s prose book marks the first work of fiction as a part of the 33 1/3 series of non-fiction books deconstructing or reporting on the making of various famous rock and jazz albums. Darnielle’s book takes as its catalyst and focal point Black Sabbath’s 3rd album, Master of Reality. The story is told in diary form by Roger Painter, lost soul locked up in a juvenile mental ward, trying desperately to communicate to his one seeming reasonably accessible therapist what hearing his heavy metal tapes would do for him. But the ward has locked up his tapes in the nurse’s station (and Roger can SEE them, he knows they are there, and he just wants to listen to them!) In his diary entries to Gary, he pleads to hear his tapes again, specifically Master of Reality, and he attempts to write, in depth, what that music means for him: “So it’s like me and the band are in a hidden cave and they are telling me horror stories and if I even try to tell someone about it there is no way they could understand, because they don’t even know there is a cave…”
Darnielle’s Roger Painter would never say like Rodger Young does, “I was mesmerized by its threadbare earnestness.” These characters are left alone with their thoughts too much and seem to prefer it; they have created comforting, if isolating, shelters there.
Roger is the opposite: he’s dying to evade his own thoughts and the hospital won’t let him. He’s left to hear his own madness constantly. He has no recourse or ability to explore his hatred, no one to hear his opinions and none of the perverse tools the Clowes characters have to wrestle it around. “What I need in my life is to be liberated into feeling bad… What I need is a place where I can spray anger in sparks like a gnarled piece of electrical cable. Just be mad at stuff and soak in the helplessness.”
John Darnielle is best known as the sole (usually) member of the Mountain Goats, and has written, played and sung hundreds of short, fiery songs. His strength as a rock and roll performer has been the percussive force of his sometimes amateurish guitar playing, the ability to tell stories in song about emotionally mangled people, and his need to force those songs out of his lungs. He addresses as his themes the explosive power of mistrusting intimacy, and the grace, beauty and (again) explosive clarity that opening your senses and heart can sometimes offer. He’s at his strongest when his songs address the fact that you can completely love and hate at the same time.
This is the message Roger Painter in Master of Reality was trying to offer to his therapists, and according to Roger, the same message Ozzy is trying to send to his listeners in “After Forever”: “I spent hours every day trying to get you to let me listen to some guy sending me the exact same message that Blue Cross was paying you to sell me all day.”
Darnielle’s Master of Reality uses a similar narrative strategy. Divided into two parts, we hear from Roger Painter at 16 and then again 10 years later. The changes he documents are profound: in the beginning he is desperate for one thing- his tapes, which were never given to him. In the end, he is able to reflect -somewhat unclearly, very angrily and very high- on his experiences and how it has created his current situation. He’s not happy about it, but he can see it.
Weirdly, Darnielle’s Roger Painter is arguably a better person for having gone through all this misery. Deprived and forced to articulate himself to the world, he has become smarter, kinder, more able to see reality and to pierce non-reality. His teenage years were sacrificed, but he has grown emotionally and spiritually stronger: he’s still furious and mangled but he’s less broken. Darnielle know this, and so does Roger, who voices it:
It was like I had a secret that only people who couldn’t do anything to help me could understand… In a way it was you and everybody like you who put the final binding signature on my contract with Black Sabbath. You sealed the deal. Now when I hear them I hear you disappearing into the meaningless passed. [sic.] Too high to write anymore. Still angry. Can’t go back… [ed- add one sentence. Look up.]
Darnielle’s shattering, white-hot understanding of what it is to know what you need but not be allowed near it is so humane and explosive that I can’t imagine reading it and not sobbing for the void of compassionless humanity the book reveals.
I’m in love, and I can’t hide it anymore.
The best espresso in New York City, bar none is La Colombe, on Church Street, one block south of Canal behind Pearl Paint. God bless it.
Here’s a crappy photo of a great Americano, after I put milk in it!
I am a snob about few things, except effort and coffee (living in Seattle for 5 years spoiled me on the latter front). La Colombe is the best espresso I’ve had in NYC. Running close are the following (in descending order):
1. Cupcake Cafe on 9th Ave by Port Authority. Worth a trip far far far out of the way. Plus, a great old fashioned icebox where they keep the milk.
2. The Cafe in the Theater at
136 E. 13th St., New York, NY 10003
I never remember what the theater is called.
3. The place in Chelsea Market! AMAZING! (Ninth Street Espresso)
4. Push Cafe. Great for years. Expensive, and weirdly it’s never as good in a to go cup, but it’s a special thing in a mug seated out front watching traffic.
Far below but still great
5. Think Coffee by NYU on Mercer
6. Gimme Coffee in Williamsburg
7. Mud in LES
8. Heights Coffee in Prospect Heights
God bless all these places for caring.