Monday, May 26, 2008

Does Douglas Wolk Make Me Want To Read Comics? (part two))

As previously discussed, I am looking at whether the reviews and commentaries section of Douglas Wolk's book makes me want to read comics by the people he talks about.

Gilbert Hernandez

Reading what Wolk had to say about Gilbert Hernandez persuaded me to give Love & Rockets another go (that and local comic shop selling off collected volumes cheap). I have still not read Love & Rockets X, the book by Gilbert that Wolk goes on about the most, but I have derived great enjoyment from the earlier Palomar stories, of which more later.

Jaime Hernandez

Gilbert's brother… reading what Wolk had to say also made me try some more of his work, which in any case is hard to avoid if you are reading up on Gilbert through the old format of Love & Rockets compilations, as both brothers' work appears in most volumes. Wolk highlights a bit of L&R where Jaime's stories supposedly up a narrative gear and begin to get interesting. Sadly, it seems more like they transition from fantastical but dull tales of robots and rockets, to low thrill power tales of women having dull conversations with each other.

Craig Thompson & James Kochalka

Never heard of these two before, and not entirely clear why Wolk pairs them. Kochalka has brought out a book called The Cute Manifesto, about how cute things are great; this may well be the greatest book ever written. Thompson, meanwhile, has a book called Blankets, which sounds like it might be the absolute nadir of me-and-my-boring-life shite comics.

Hope Larson

Wolk makes her work sound like it is narratively slight but visually very arresting, combining a simple cartoony style with odd compositional features. I might look at some of her books in a shop to see what I think of them.

Carla McNeil

Her books are set in a SFey world that combines high technology with strange social stratifications and rigid rules and customs sometimes arcane even to their subjects. The art style is attractive, and as someone interested in the brainy end of SF I would like to investigate McNeil's work further.

Alan Moore

Alan Moore is the single biggest name in comics. Unlike the people mentioned thus far, he is just a writer, and not a writer-artist, so to realise his visions he is dependent on other people. I have read pretty much all the things by Moore that Wolk talks about, so nothing Wolk says is going to edge more towards reading more. I did think, though, that Wolk is overly indulgent of the Lost Girls comic that Moore wrote and Melinda Gebbie drew. I'm not really convinced that Lost Girls is anything other than a tawdry smutfest, and I do not think people should waste their time taking it seriously. It is a shame that Wolk did not talk more about either From Hell or Tom Strong, both vastly superior works.

Grant Morrison

Another guy who does not draw, and another comics big name whose work I have read much of. And again, I reckon Wolk barely mentions great work like Seaguy and wastes time on less impressive work, by which I mean Seven Soldiers of Victory. That said, I didn't like The Invisibles when it started either, and by talking up Seven Soldiers so much, Wolk makes me want to check it out again. Unfortunately I have given away all my issues.


Anonymous said...

Dang! I should have got to the pile of comics earlier in the party.

You'd probably like James Kochalka's indie rock stylings as well.

kvlol said...

Dang! I should have got to the pile of comics earlier in the party.

You were unfortunate to have left the army one behind...

I think Love and Rockets is not very good tbh. I really don't get the love.

Can't be bothered reading Lost Girls as everything I have heard makes it sound just like you describe.

ian said...

Kvlol, you're just reading the wrong L&R books.

Incidentally, I am kind of disappointed at the lack of people leaving comments telling me that I am some kind of geaywad for preferring Gilbert to Jaime.