Saturday, August 13, 2016

Some Call It Sleep

Doktor Sleepless Volume 1: Engines of Desire (2008): written by Warren Ellis; illustrated by Ivan Rodriguez: Interesting near-future dystopia from Warren Ellis that gets better and weirder as it goes. 'Doktor Sleepless' (re)names himself and takes up arms against normalcy in a weird, small city somewhere in America. Strange new cults and fads dominate the post-millennial streets. 

The Great Old Ones seem to be in play. And an angel seems to have arrived in town on a hallucinatory wind. Ivan Rodriguez seems a bit bland and mainstream to be drawing this book, though that may be the point -- a tension between the art and the story mimicking the tension between consensus reality and le massif. Certainly worth reading. Recommended.

Annihilator (2015): written by Grant Morrison; illustrated by Fraser Irving: A self-reflexive, genre-mashing superhero story written by Grant Morrison? It must be Wednesday. This is another fun Morrison romp in which a writer and his creation hang out together. Well, go on the run together. But the created may have created the story that the creator now tells to save the created. Or something like that. 

If you like Morrisson, you'll like this. If you hate Morrison, you'll hate this. If you've never heard of Morrisson, this isn't a bad jumping-on point. It may be a bit wacky, but it's straightforward in its own way and isn't part of any larger superhero universe. Fraser Irving continues to grow as an artist, though his distortions of the human form sometimes make it difficult to recognize specific characters. Recommended.

Larry Marder's Beanworld Volume 1 (1981-1995/ Collected 1995): written and illustrated by Larry Marder: Reprinting stories from the early-to-mid 1980's, this volume has been supplanted by newer, larger reprint volumes. You should buy them. Larry Marder's Beanworld is a fantasy creation almost sui generis. There are a few things -- mostly old comic strips -- that it vaguely resembles in art style or writing, things that include Krazy Kat and the E.C. Segar Popeye from the 1920's and 1930's.

But it's also pretty much its own weird, half-funny, half-serious cartoon about a bunch of sentient, bipedal beans getting up to adventures on, um, Beanworld. A labour of love years in development by Marder when it debuted as an Eclipse Comic in 1981, Beanworld is one of the great comic-book achievements to come out of the 1980's in any genre, on any continent. It's strange, charming, funny, enthralling... and a fine piece of fantasy world-building. Highly recommended.

Madwoman of the Sacred Heart (1992-1998/ English edition 2011): written by Alejandro Jodorowsky; illustrated by Moebius; English translation by Natacha Ruck and Ken Grobe: Deeply odd graphic novel from long-time collaborators Alejandro Jodorowsky and Moebius. Sometimes stilted, sometimes passionate, sometimes grotesque. Moebius' art moves from realism through to a cartoony style at the end that resembles that of Tintin's Herge. 

Jodorowsky's writing rampages around from mysticism to erotica to body horror and shame, from androgynous Messiahs to high-living prophets and back again. A 60-year-old French philosopher-academic turns out to be the destined father of the new John the Baptist. Or that's what a sexy, nubile young female student of his believes. 

Indeed, she believes it so much she has sex with him in a confessional booth and then has a tattoo inscribed just above her pubic region indicating that her vagina belongs to the professor. And that's just in the first 20 pages or so of this ~200-page graphic novel. There's a lot more loopy, portentous and sometimes pretentious dialogue and monologue action than there is the sexy sex, though, so don't get too hot and bothered. Not for anyone easily offended, but recommended nonetheless.

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