Monday, September 29, 2008

More books I've read in 2008

Kirby: King of Comics by Mark Evanier.
I have to confess that even though I grew up reading those great silver age Marvel Comics, Jack Kirby was never my favorite artist. I couldn't get past some of his stylistic quirks, such as the square fingers. Then there was the fact that although nobody could draw alien technology and weaponry and crackling energy like Jack Kirby, his women were always, well, homely and square-fingered. And at that stage in my life I much preferred a pretty girl (like John Romita's Gwen Stacy or John Buscema's Shalla Bal) to any piece of machinery. Now that I know a little more about the history of comics I understand more about how Jack Kirby revolutionized the artform. Before Kirby, comics were flat and two-dimensional. Jack brought them to life and his characters and his action popped off the page. So many of the boundaries that he broke were copied by everybody who came after him that a punk kid like me didn't understand what a pioneer he was. And not only a pioneer but a helluva nice guy with no business acumen and who was too trusting of people and as a result he got screwed over by just about every company he worked for --- especially Marvel.

The Quitter by Harvey Pekar and Dean Haspiel.
What can I say about Harvey Pekar? If you don't like him and find his comic series American Splendor to be a self-indulgent exercise in naval-gazing you're not going to like this graphic memoir of his school-age and early adult years. Me, I think what he does is pretty amazing, just by being more honest than most writers dare he can make his admittedly-pretty-boring life into compelling pieces of literature. Pekar has had a lot of great artists draw American Splendor but for my money Dean Haspiel is the best. Of course I'm a big fan of Haspiel and his ultra-romantic anti-hero Billy Dogma anyway.

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