My latest article for Open Culture is on the animated short that comic artist Charles Burns did for a horror anthology.
In recent years the comic book part of San Diego Comic-con’s name has been overshadowed by the arrival of Hollywood. What once began as a place to buy, sell and trade among other comic book collectors, or to get autographs from your favorite artist, has now turned into a major launching pad for major fall movies, television shows and sneak peeks at the following summer’s blockbusters. After all, the audience for superhero comics and for the inevitable movie adaptation are usually one and the same.
Comic-con is also famous for people-watching, with fans dressed up in meticulous recreations of their favorite comic, movie, manga or TV characters, with awards creating a serious amount of competition.
Eddie Campbell has this to say about Seiichi Hayashi’s 1970 manga, “Red Colored Elegy.”
Red Elegy is a good read, though this reviewer at amazon says he had trouble making sense of it. I would guess that’s because today’s reader has a more linear brain than 1970’s reader. It reminds me of ‘world cinema’ in the ’60s and of that noble movement in which cinema viewers were expected to be viewing at a somewhat higher level than tv consumers in their sitting rooms. There was an idea abroad in the world that cinema was the art of our times, absurd in these times now that the whole medium appears to have descended to the level of comic books.
Now, part of me says, yes, this is true, especially in terms of subject matter. But in terms of plotting, modern Hollywood thrillers (for example) ask quite a lot of its audience, and often seem to exist only to battle all that’s come before. A thriller with only one twist would be unheard of these days.
But the sort of elliptical, compact narrative that happens in the pages of Love and Rockets, has no equivalent in filmmaking, even in the works of Hou Hsiao Hsien. (Then again, nobody writes like the Hernandez Bros.)
Japanese Manga, however, often zips by like…watching a movie. If you want a real page-turner, read a manga. If you want to get bogged down in words, pick up an American comic. I started reading Marvel’s “Ultimates” on the recommendation of a friend, and I found it a very long slog. Lots of static panels full of word balloons. Check out old American comic books…they’re also like this. Oy.
Wait, what was my point?
Tintin in Thailand is a 1999 era bootleg comic–and a labor of love–that parodies the globe-trotting antics of Herge’s boy reporter as he and the usual cast of characters explore the sleazy side of Bangkok. My memories of traveling in Thailand are tied up in the bootleg Tintin t-shirts I saw for sale everywhere, so this seems quite appropriate. The parody did not sit well with the Belgian authorities or the Herge Foundation.
A police unit which specialises in investigating counterfeiting mounted an elaborate sting operation in which officers posed as potential buyers and chatted with smugglers in the town of Tournai, near the French border, before revealing their true identities.
Two men were arrested, and a third from Antwerp, after they confessed to having produced around 1,000 copies of the unauthorised tome in Thailand for resale in Belgium.
Thanks to the Bravojuju blog, you can now download a copy and see what all the fuss was about.
I have scanned and uploaded to Flickr the complete Rickstones Yearbook I created in 1986 when I was a wee scruffian. Contains my attempt to be Bill Elder. From my Flickr intro:
In 1986 I was the only American student in Rickstones Secondary School in Witham, Essex, UK. And being so, I thought we ought to have a yearbook, which is a foreign concept to the Brits. So along with a friend of mine, Dave Seacombe, we petitioned in March, convinced the Headmistress, who then found a printer for us. I guess they thought, well as long as he leaves us alone…
As usual, the larger versions are the best, so be sure to click on them.
Hey Kids! In tribute to the premiere of the fine motion picture feature Garfield we present this selection of Farfield.
By replacing everybody’s favorite comic cat with a real cat (that does not speak in thought balloons or walk upright), the strip’s Beckettian terror is fully realized.
(Click image to open full size!)
Otherwise known as my dream comic. This lasted through various incarnations as it went from something I was doing on the side to something I was trying to sell (to whom? for what?). The earlier strips feature no captions or titles, which was a bit of a challenge. As a few people got interested I had to format the idea into a strip of some kind. I also started focusing on my dreams that featured celebrities, hoping that would sell. ("Who’s the main character?" one editor kept asking me. "Me!" I would say. "Yes, but who else?" "Depends on what I dream.")
The longer story "Tsukuba Dream" was drawn for the third issue of OnLimits (see here), but I think they ran out of money and the magazine folded. This was drawn without the dialog, flipped on computer, and a Japanese translation added. This is the pre-flip American version.
I’d still be up for doing more dream comix as long as 1) I have somewhere to publish them! and 2) someone to ink them! Props to Jim Woodring and Rick Veitch for showin’ da way.
"You Killed Julia Croke!"
"Yes, and we still all wear the same clothes!" (feat. Ernest Borgnine)
Blue Shades (feat. Elvis Costello)
Caught at Customs
Dream Peanuts (revised)
Beatles Time Machine
Michael J. Fox’s First Day of College!
Tsukuba Dream: Page One | Page Two | Page Three | Page Four | Page Five
This was written for publication in OnLimits #1, a magazine based in Tsukuba-City, Japan. It just so happened that the publisher was also the owner of the bar/coffee shop/art house/music space called Aku Aku where I spent most of my spare evenings in 1995, drinking bad, strong coffee and trying to ask the waitresses out on dates. They gave me five pages and let me go at it. I initially plotted the comic frames to be read right to left as in manga, even though it was in English. That was baka. I’ve put them in a Western order now, and that explains why the page numbers are now stuck in the middle.
Page One | Page Two | Page Three | Page Four | Page Five