Monday, February 02, 2009


The Living and The Dead by Jason

I have been passing this over at the HWLC for over a year. The simple line work just didn't have appeal for me at a fast first glance when compared to Frank Miller, Neil Gaiman, and others.

I picked this up though, and I am highly impressed with the storytelling ability of Jason (Yep Just Jason). It is such a quick read you can finish it literally in less than five minutes, but don't let the simplicity and the directness of the images to get you to rip through this too fast. It is a wonderful, phantasmagorical piece that can make you feel for its hero and heroine if you are open to a simple pleasure.


Parabasis said...

you should check out Jason's SSHHHHH! I would argue he's a better artist than Frank Miller, and luckily also not a reactionary right wing nut job.

Devilvet said...

Well, we don't truck too much in Frank Miller bashing (which has become increasingly more fashionable since the unfortunate thing with the Spirit). I grew up on his Daredevil and I think some of the Sin City collection is the best work ever (all that and I voted Obama too...paradoxical)... Frank Miller is a hell of a storyteller in the graphic medium even if some find his premises or characters distasteful.

But all that aside, I am seriously looking forward too reading more Jason. It is a completely different animal from most graphic novels out there becuase of its simplicity. The work is almost more indebted to the comic strip rather than the comic book, almost as if he has elevated the comic strip to succicent and profound height that demanded to be bound as a book. I'll keep my out out for SHHHHH. Anyone read Jason's I KILLED ADOLF HILTER?

Parabasis said...

I'm told with Jason the rule of thumb is to read the one's that have fewer words. As a result I haven't read I KILLED ADOLF HITLER yet. I just picked up MEOW, BABY! and am greatly looking forward to it...

although not as much as I am looking forward to teh scott pilgrim book release party tomorrow in my neighborhood!

(ps: I love Miller's run of Daredevil. I hate Sin City, soup to nuts. I think it elevates what's least interesting about noir and hard boiled detective stories and find the artwork ugly and incoherent)

Devilvet said...

I have yet to check out Scott Pilgrim. But, I've heard good things. I am very careful about what mangalike tokyopop I pick up.

We'll have to disagree about Sin City.

p.s. any thoughts about Kochalka?

isaac butler said...

I like Kochalka. I don't know if you're read READING COMICS or not, but I get Douglas Wolk's critique of his work while also enjoying it. I also think THE CUTE MANIFESTO has some pretty interesting theory in it that's worth mulling over w/r/t DIY theatre.

I really like Kochalka's SUPERFUCKERS series. The American Elf stuff is better when you read lots of it at once. it gains a weight etc. that it lacks day-to-day. It's one of those things where... look, the trade off to Kochalka's approach is that it's always good but really never great, if that makes sense. I'm never gonna say "Oh wow, that Kochalka book saved/changed my life!" the way I would about, say, Joe Sacco or Craig Thompson or David B. or whatever. But I always like his stuff.

Speaking of Daredevil... have you read the Bendis/Maleev run of Daredevil? (collected in trades 4-13 I think of the Marvel KNIGHTS series)? It's awesome.

Devilvet said...

I've read some of the Bendis/Maleev stuff, and it is hit or and miss for me.

I actually have read Reading Comics (great book) at your previous suggestion. I remember you speaking to it at parabasis awhile back. That is where I first became aware of Kochalka. And I agree with your assessment of worth to diy theater in relation to his art theory. In fact that is why I sort of brought it up. I am currently (between a million other projects) trying to write intelligently about the 'craft is enemy' manifesto as it relates to dramatists.

Parabasis said...

Yeah... this is where I come down on The Cute Manifesto... first off, I think a lot of his thoughts about what Art is All About (reflected, curiously enough in Peter Brook's THE OPEN DOOR) namely the process of condensation and then enlargement to be right on.

I don't totally go with Wolk's feeling that what craft is is remains nebulous, I think it's pretty clear that he's talking about conventions of what makes "well drawn" work.

I will say that there is a Craft Be Damned! strain of DIY theatre whose refreshing brashness has worn thin for me. I think craft is there to help you make your art better, and I'm sick of hearing thespians use Craft is the Enemy type justifications for turning out second-rate work and not thinking their choices through. But an over reliance on craft can lead to dramatically moribund work. This is especially true for more mainstream text-based directors like myself (to be clear: I mean my work is in the mainstream vein not my taste in plays).

Craft is a set of tools in a toolbox. You need to have a well defined toolbox witha lot of different tools in it to be a good artist. But you also need to know which tools to use when.

I also think it's worth noting- as Wolk does- that there actually is a lot of craft to Kochalka's work, but I think he's a naturally gifted and prolific artist and doesn't even realize it.

Devilvet said...

I think that a certain degree of craft happens, is inevitable (like your point oabout Kolchalka himself). I also think that alot of folks think of craft as an obstacle that stops them in their tracks... folks who dont write plays becuase they are afraid they'll never be as good as someone else who has achieved craft.

The goal is not to use Kolchalka's manifesto to excuse laziness, but instead to use it to embrace ever moment of your life as a creative moment. Do know silence yourself today out of fear of who you might be tomorrow. And, do not bow so readily to the subjective superiority ofthose who come before you (i.e. even if one think's Frank Miller has craft, that doesn't objectively make him better than say Jason or Kolchalka or Tony Millionaire or Charles Schultz or even Charles Keane).

If you have content, but lack in craft, don't stay silence. Speak to your content, exercise dilligence in what you do and craft will happen.

The 'craft is the enemy' manifesto is about eliminating the fear of judgement.

Devilvet said...

I meant Bil Keane.

isaac butler said...

Yeah totally. And I would say that I think every artist has some moment of paralysis and/or choice-revision that's driven by that fear that Kochalka wants to get past. I'm almost certain that the "fuck what other people think" attitude that he adopts is in part a reaction to his own obsessive worries about what other people think of his work.

That'd be my guess, anyway. If it wasn't, it would make him pretty much different from every other artist I've ever met.

My problem is really just with shoddy, poorly thought through work. I think we've all seen shit where we were like "this dude needs some craft". But we've also seen boring, hyperconventionalized work as well where it's like "god, i wish this were messier!"

Anyway, I agree with where you're coming from w/r/t The Cute Manifesto, I think my worry is just when people use this rhetoric to justify shitty choices.