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Miracles, Metaphysics, and Comics Quandaries
On this episode of The Comics Alternative, Andy and Derek review three new and unique titles. They begin by looking at Miracleman, Book 1: A Dream of Flying, the first trade in Marvel’s current reprinting of the early series by Alan Moore…AKA, “The Original Writer.” While Andy had read its first run in the U.S. through the Eclipse line, this was Derek’s first time actually reading Miracleman. (It’s one of those titles that he knew about and always intended to read, but never got around to…especially being out of print.) The guys primarily focus on the main storyline, written by Moore with art by Alan Davis and Garry Leach, but they also discuss the supplemental material, including interviews, sketches, and installments of Mick Anglo’s Golden Age Marvelman strips. Throughout their discussion they keep coming back to a central question: Does Miracleman still hold up today? The Two Guys think so, but with some hesitations. While they definitely find the comic valuable and fascinating as a historical document, much of the book’s edginess has been tempered due to the titles original success. Many comics now have been following Alan Moore’s lead, so much so that Miracleman now doesn’t seem anything new. But for it’s time, it definitely was, setting the stage for the more sophisticated comics Moore would go on to write in the years to come.
Next, Derek and Andy look at Gabriel Dunston’s Purgatory Pub, Book 1. This is a brand new self-published title, and it was a successful Kickstarter campaign. The book is a metaphysical dialogue between Heaven and Hell, one that you might imagine being created by an underground comix artist with a theological bent. There’s an angel and there’s a devil, and the two don’t sit on anyone’s shoulder arguing their prospective cases, but instead hang out in pubs, visit each other’s neighborhoods, and go to motivational rallies held by none other than Lucifer himself. The Guys want to send out a special thanks to the book’s creator, Gabriel Dunston, who was kind enough to send them copies of his new comic.
Finally, the guys discuss a very different kind of “comic,” Kellie Strøm’s Worse Things Happen at Sea (Nobrow Press). This book is part of the publisher’s Leporello series, illustrated works, according to the book’s back cover, “aimed to push the boundaries of print and illustration. Some are educational, all are beautiful.” Derek and Andy specifically focus on the “boundary pushing” aspects of Strøm’s work. Worse Things Happen at Sea is a double-sided 136 centimeter panorama, and with no clear separation between “panels.”
So the guys spend a lot of time wondering if they could call this book a comic, and if so, what does that say about the flexibility and the stability of the medium? This panorama is a lush, beautifully rendered “story” — Derek argues that it’s somewhat a narrative, Andy isn’t entirely convinced — of elaborate sea creatures attacking seafaring vessels throughout nautical history. It reminds the guys of similarly medium-bending “comics” such as Joe Sacco’s The Great War: July 1, 1916: The First Day of the Battle of the Somme (which came out from W.W. Norton last year), and Helge Reumann and Xavier Robel’s, Elvis Road (2007, Buenaventura Press). So in this episode of The Comics Alternative, you get not just in-depth critiques, but also theoretical musings, as well. What a bargain!!
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