Looking at some old war comics--not SGT. ROCK or BLAZING COMBAT or TWO-FISTED TALES, but the actual workaday, average war comics there were the most of back in the day--brought a few thoughts to mind. Apparently not the kind of thoughts Garth Ennis has when he reads them.
So you've read some Kubert, some Kurtzman, some Goodwin, and you're nostalgic for war comics. Delve a bit deeper. You won't be. it amazes me that people don't realize those artists were making comics reacting against, and commenting upon, what war comics mostly were--which is to say straight-up grunt propaganda, often affected by the fact that army canteens were a huge captive market for comics.
When you read a lot of war comics, especially before 1970. you're reading stories actually intended for the soldiers, who were almost kids themselves and the comics helped hold that trusting state. They were meant as morale-boosters and psychological simplifiers, as well as stimulating a desire to be a soldier in kids back home who would, at the time, be subject to a draft at 18.
Most of them were basically like this:
Not exactly "make war no more." (And British war comics are, Pat Mills' thoughtful and sad CHARLEY'S WAR aside, even more enthusiastically violent and racist)
And yet people think it's a genre that should be kept going. One thinks of the episode of M*A*S*H where Father Mulcahy, wanting to write a Korean War song, comes to the conclusion that war songs probably shouldn't be written at all.
It reminds me of a couple of things. Firstly, it's very much like the misplaced nostalgia people have for westerns, forgetting, similarly, that the westerns they like were reactions against what westerns once were and commentary on same. Films like LITTLE BIG MAN or ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST--which are films that I like a lot--were meant as the closing of a genre, not its extension.
Which leads me to another similarity: WATCHMEN. Nowadays taken as some kind of artistic justification of the superhero genre when its intent was to end the genre.
The lesson is that if you've got a problem with a genre, you kill it best by starving it, not giving it fresh blood even as metacommentary. If you don't like a genre, don't work in it, and discourage others from doing so.
Ultimately every attempt at a genre's deconstruction is condemned to become its salvation. Can we name one instance where something intended to tear down a genre actually did so? Or were they taken as, "Well, if you do the genre like THAT, I like it!" Example again: WATCHMEN. Did mainstream comics move on from superheroes? No, they just decided to soil them. Problem solved and another three decades of life infused.
Sometimes things shouldn't be revived or perpetuated. Sometimes dead is better.
The Short Films of David Lynch 1966-1996 + The Big Dream
Includes Six Figures Getting Sick (Six Times), The Alphabet, The Grandmother (my favorite of these), The Amputee, The Cowboy and the Frenchman, and Premonitions Following an Evil Deed (from LUMIERE).
Graphic Canon Vol. 3 is Out And I'm In It (Updated)
That's right, I thought I was going to be in Volume 4, but turns out I was mistaken. My interpretation of Billie Holiday's "Strange Fruit" in comics form, which I first announced to you last year, has been published in Graphic Canon Vol. 3, out now. And so far I'm proud to say, this volume is the most critically acclaimed so far. It also includes some much better cartoonists than myself, such as my friends Ted Rall (doing Sherwood Anderson), Peter Kuper, David Lasky (doing Ulysses; by the way, all three of them were also in Working For The Man) and Molly Kiely doing a lovely "Black Elk Speaks." But mainly of course, it has me so you should buy yours today at Amazon! And while you're there, why not pick up your copy of my other new literary adaptation ($1.50 off cover price, by the way), LULU Book 1? Both qualify for super saver shipping...I'm just sayin'... Update: Here's a UK review of the book. Money quote (well, as far as I'm concerned) : "...the Billie Holliday Jazz standard
‘Strange Fruit’ – which started life as the poem “Bitter Fruit” by
Lewis Allan (AKA American Communist Abraham Meeropol) is here adapted
into just as potent and heartfelt a response to Southern lynchings in
John Linton Roberson’s sombre, silent strip." Below is a quick flip-through preview of the book. I think they skipped past my pages at some point though.
And a couple of favorite versions of the song here.
You may not recognize it, but this was in fact the first adaptation of A CLOCKWORK ORANGE. Interesting partly for the degree to which Warhol did not understand the book, perhaps. When you watch the films Warhol made himself, one s grateful he later left it to Paul Morrissey.
The film is often cited as Edie Sedwick's first appearance (though she has no lines), but not so. Close though.
Decasia (2002, Bill Morrison) : The Beauty of Decaying Nitrate Film
DECASIA: THE STATE OF DECAY is a film made of found ruined, decaying nitrate film footage. The films are mostly unknown, and suffer from extreme wear damage, from mold and the decay of the bond between the emulsion and the film base. He strings a bunch of clips of these fragments together, to depict something very much like ghosts of the past.
And the image of ruined film is quite beautiful. Here are a whole bunch of stills to demonstrate.
Absolutely nothing was done to alter the look. These are all natural, untouched images of rotted films.
"Eternity with Beelzebub, and all his hellish instruments of death, will be a picnic compared to five minutes with me and this pencil." - E. Blackadder, 1791 Questionable
words & pictures from John Linton Roberson SUPPORT US AT PATREON!