Sunday, February 13, 2011

Pre-Fulbright Panic Attacks

I leave for Argentina in two weeks and two days.

Two weeks. And two days.

I complain constantly about having to live in Chicago (with my parents) while I wait for my Fulbright and real life to begin. But amid all that hemming and hawing I created life for myself. Services at the synagogue, an internship downtown, and friends have kept me occupied. Now, finally I feel settled in Chicago and I’m leaving. If you’ve talked with me these past few weeks, I’ve probably talked about this a thousand times. To get excited for my journey and leave my life in Chicago, I’ve been thinking about awesome things about Argentina, like my Argentine friends, empanadas and steak, cheap comics, amazing public transportation, and 70 degree weather.

One thing I said I would do before I left is to create a list of must-read comics. I obviously won’t be here to suggest comics, so I’m going to make a few lists of good comics to read:


1. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

2. Funny Misshapen Body by Jeffrey Brown

3. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

4. Epileptic by David B.

5. American Splendor by Harvey Pekar

6. French Milk by Lucy Knisley

7. Understanding Israel in 60 Days or Less by Sarah Glidden

8. Maus by Art Spiegelman

9. Self-Loathing #2 by R. Crumb and Aline Kominsky-Crumb

10. Safe Area Gorzade by Joe Sacco

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Reinterpreting Batman

If you talk to me about comics for five minutes, I'll probably mention my distain for superheroes. So many superhero comics have convoluted plots, anatomically impossible females, too many fight scenes and not enough character development. That said, I sometimes enjoy Batman and really enjoy reinterpretations of Batman. Josh Simmons and Kate Beaton have come up with their own Batman stories. Beaton's frisky, flamboyant "Sexy" Batman is my favorite of the two, but Simmon's art is breathtakingly beautiful. Dear readers, look at the two comics below and tell me which one you like best!

Batman by Josh Simmons
(Go here to read the entire story)
joshua simmons batman Pictures, Images and Photos

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Nilsen's Birds and Big Questions

I viewed Anders Nilsen’s work in terms of art alone. An assortment of panels from Big Questions, a graphic novel about talking birds, was displayed without a specific sequence. I believe they were generally placed in order from beginning to end, but it was impossible to understand the narrative from the pages given. The panel told the story of an underground cavern filled with sightless birds, some guy ends up there, and a plucky young sparrow saves a friend? I’m not really sure how the stories connected. The show obviously wasn’t about the narrative, it was about the art. And let me tell you, the art was fantastic.

A panel from Big Questions

The panels were much larger than a normal, 8.5X11 page, allowing me to see the details lost when shrunk for publication. The art reveals the little secrets of creation. I could see every stroke of the pen, every tiny dot used for shading or creating a line, details that in a book would blend together and go unnoticed. My cousin Liam just sent me a website where you can buy original work by a bunch of artists. If I could, I would purchase this panel by Nilsen. Does anybody want to lend me $350?

Another panel from Big Questions

My favorite panel showed the sparrow investigating a downed plane. Perhaps it is all for the best that there was no narrative attached to the story, so I can create my own without bias. The sparrow looks into the cockpit of a plane with curiosity, observing the compasses, switches, and buttons that make the machine fly. When I saw the image, I though it amazing the amount of technology needed to do what a bird does effortlessly.

And thus concludes my discussion of the New Chicago Comics. I wish the show would continue, but alas, it has been taken down. I finally found pictures of the show, although I think reposting it on my blog may be illegal, so you can check them out on The Monologuist, Nilsen’s blog.