So many pictures in so many panels


072) Tale of Sand by Ramón K. Pérez from the screenplay by Jim Henson and Jerry Juhl, finished August 9

Pérez was given the challenge of adapting a screenplay that has the same sort of visual chaos seen in Henson's Oscar-nominated (and really truly terrific and really truly strange) Time Piece. One method he employs is bringing in parts of the screenplay's actual printed and scribbled-upon pages. The story is wild and wonderful and nutty. It ends in a loop just after pulling the kind of prank I used in Armageddon Burning and Hell or that you see at the end of V for Vendetta.

It's fun and dreamlike and nonsensical---sort of an Alice for grownups---and I'm absolutely unsurprised it never got funded. But we now have the next best thing. We have the comic book.


071) The New Yorker Book of Literary Cartoons edited by Bob Mankoff, finished August 9

This 2000 volume has some real gems that made me laugh out loud, but the more trendy cartoons have not aged well. Even for a collection from 2000, some of the gags seem based on a literary world that barely existed then, if, indeed, it ever existed. But the gems, man. Worth it for the gems.
five days


070) Liō: Making Friends by Mark Tatulli, finished August 9

Liō is better is small doses. The repetitious nature of the gags gets obvious in collected form.
out for ice cream


069) Paying for It: a comic strip memoir about being a john by Chester Brown, finished August 9

This is the great thing about libraries: I never would have bought this book. Probably no one would have ever lent it to me. I've read some Chester Brown and been underwhelmed. I didn't really care for the subject matter. But it sits next to other books I'm checking out and it ends up coming home with me. (And, unexpectedly, ends up being the fourth book with prostitiution from that pile.) And I read it. And if I had an audience who cared more about my opinions on this particular topic, I could write a long time about this book.

The first thing to say is that other people who've said this book is not erotic are right. For a book entirely about sex and which features the depiction of lots and lots of sex acts, this comes as a bit surprising, perhaps, but it's true. I did not find Paying for It to be at all erotic. I'm not sure why. Maybe because it's manifesto as much as memoir? I don't know.

Anyway, the main point of Brown's book is to convince you that prostitution is better for humanity than marriage, which he calls evil probably four or five times. His tirades against romantic love provide my main issues which I'll get into in a moment (but not in great detail because, as I said, I don't think my audience cares what he thinks), but his arguments for prostitution are actually pretty compelling. Prostitution fits in the category of Things I Don't Like But Will Always Exist. That category breaks into three subcategories and currently prostitution is in the subcat with murder (things we try to stop and punish) instead of sharing space with alcohol (things we regulate in order to minimize the damage) or flipping people off (we support your right to be a knave). Brown is for no regulation of prostitution at all and I think he may have convinced me. Although he also thinks prostitutes shouldn't have to pay money on their earnings which is stupid. If someone makes their living that way, then income is income. Tax it like my freelance editing is taxed. But I'm not getting into that.

Brown's philosophy is grossly materialistic, by which I mean that he thinks the only things that matter are property and that all things that exist are property and the only meaningful definition of morality is respecting other people's property. That's important to know, but I'm not going to engage with that philosophy. Just know that's where he's at.

When it comes to longterm relationships, Brown believes that entropy is inevitable. That shared experiences don't lead to deeper love. That all relationships gradually lose their frequency of sex which leads to resentment which leads to fighting and bitterness and breakup. Needless to say, I find that cynical and immature. But I do suspect that our serve-me-first culture is moving in that direction sexually. In the appendix he describes a utopia in 2080 (assuming prostitution is decriminalized posthaste) where people have kids if they feel like it and no one's trapped in exclusive relationships and people charge for sex or give it away as they please. I imagine he's like my students who find Brave New World a utopia as well.

Brown's spent a lot of time honing his arguments and I would no doubt lose a public debate with him, but he's not logically or philosophically consistent. He has his conclusions already and fits the evidence to them. For instance, he finds an Asian culture that looks like his utopia and uses it as proof that he's right. But cultures that don't match his ideals (say, mine) don't have anything worth thinking about. He behaves similarly toward historical evidence. This wouldn't bother me so much if he wasn't so quick to call things he disagrees with "evil." I have one of these religious backgrounds he's so disapproving of, and I'm much less likely than he is to whip out the e-word. His property-based libertarianism seems a bit evangelical in that it provides him somewhere to stand as he preaches to and condemns the world around him.

Anyway, it was an interesting book. Certainly loosened up my own thinking on the subject, though I'm not about to encourage you to get (or become) a hooker. So don't ask for my approval. Brown would call me puritan no doubt, but we're not even starting from the same axioms, so whatever. We can be civil.
midnight and morning


068) Richard Stark's Parker: The Score by Darwyn Cooke, finished August 9

Cooke is a fascinating artist. This book is black and white and orange and he exploits the full potential of that simplicity. One example: an explosion. The next page hurt my eyes as the black disappeared and the splash was nearly all white with just enough orange to delineate the basics of what was happening. Astonishing bit of art.

I also like how this is essentially an Ocean's 11 story, but the inherent risk of violence is more real. That's crime, buddy. It feels more honest because it's less fun. It's a darker look at that great American antihero, the outlaw.
one night


067) Ghosts and Ruins by Ben Catmull, finished August 8

This Goreyesque collection of drawings and words about haunted spaces is a delight to peruse. And it reminds me of a project I never got around to executing a few years ago. Now it's resurrected that idea in my mind and set it off in a new direction. Thanks, Catmull!
one day


066) The Plot: The Secret Story of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion by Will Eisner, finished August 7

I never thought about the Protocols before. I mean: I knew they were crap and had caused some problems. But I didn't realize how their falseness and their evil were so casually intertwined. If people can deny the Holocaust, of course they can believe in this nonsense.

This is a comedy of horrors.

Eisner did an adequate job of balancing his goals of teaching and stretching out the yarn. Ultimately, his simple characters can carry you through even the long sections of textual analysis (though I did do a bit of skimming). He was a master. I don'n know if this is his best work, but it certainly must be one of his most important.
two days


065) Unterzakhn by Leela Corman, finished August 6

I knew Unterzakhn when I saw it because of BAC2013. The excerpt there wasn't really enough to catch my attention, but when I saw it on the shelf at the Berkeley library, I grabbed it as part of my large stack comics I was taking. (It also ended up being the third of the first three we read which featured prostitution. I certainly have a type.)

The story of two sisters (twins as it ends up, though this is not clear until the final pages) in early 20th-century New York City---the children of Jewish immigrants (the story of their father is told in an extended flashback that should have been cut) who take different paths through the backwaters of sexual mores and the hypocrisy of others.

This book, like Grandville below, does a good job of casually complicating characters. I'm reading another book that fails even when using seemingly identical techniques. I need to think more about this.

The ending is suitably tragic and understated.
two days


064) Grandville Bête Noire by Bryan Talbot, finished August 5

I knew I recognized the author's name, but couldn't place it until the story ended and his bio identified him as author of the punchlineless joke, Alice in Sunderland. This story too, "A DETECTIVE-INSPECTOR LEBROCK OF SCOTLAND YARD SCIENTIFIC-ROMANCE THRILLER, plays fast and loose with history, but its anthropomorphic animals remind constantly that this is a work of fiction. Even if that chimp is clearly Toulouse-Lautrec. But fiction or not, the story is clearly against robber-baron capitalism. But it's just as clearly against abstract-impressionism as a tool of the rich to control the rest of us. And I don't know whether I'm meant to take that argument as seriously. It seems like it. But am I really?

Anyway, what I like most about this book is its casual character development. I didn't know until I sat to write this review that this is the third in a series, but it didn't even matter. The variations in the protagonists' backgrounds and bearings and attitudes and reactions simply felt developed and real. Not explaining properly is a task many writers never master. This book teaches how it's done.

On top of all that are the little gags (a Q-like scientist saying "This is not a pipe"---a drunk Paddington staggering down a Paris street) that add pleasure to the reading. To say nothing of Roderick's terrific slang.

(Roderick is Watson to LeBrock's Holmes---except their relationship is much more evenly balanced.)

two days

Previously in 2014 . . . . :

Books 59 - 63
063) Saga, Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, finished August 4
062) Bubbles & Gondola by Renaud Dillies, finished August 4
061) You Can Date Boys When You're Forty: Dave Barry on Parenting and Other Topics He Knows Very Little About by Dave Barry, finished August 3
060) We Were Gods by Moriah Jovan, finished August 1 or 2 (it was midnightish)
059) The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway, finished July 27

Books 56 - 58
058) Rachel Rising Vol. 4 : Winter Graves by Terry Moore, finished July 10
057) Rachel Rising Vol. 3 : Cemetery Songs by Terry Moore, finished July 9
056) Rachel Rising Vol. 2 : Fear No Malus by Terry Moore, finished July 8

Books 55
055) Paso Doble by Moriah Jovan, finished July 7

Books 50 - 54
054) The Best of Connie Willis by Connie Willis, finished July 4
053) Battling Boy by Paul Pope, finished July 27
052) Prophet Volume 2: Brothers by Brandon Graham, Fil Barlow, Giannis Milongiannis, Simon Roy (Contributo, Farel Dalrymple; finished June 26
051) Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach, finished June 26
050) Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Talking Toilets by Dav Pilkey, finished June 24

Books 44 - 49
049) Big Nate: In the Zone by Lincoln Peirce , finished June 23
048) Lying by Sam Harris, finished June 23
047) Donald Duck Adventures 17, finished June 23
046) Monster on the Hill by Rob Harrell, finished June 22
045) Swamp Thing (the New 52) Volume 1: Raise Them Bones by Scott Snyder, Yanick Paquette, Marco Rudy, finished June 21
044) The Antler Boy and Other Stories by Jake Parker, finished July 19

Books 40 - 43
043) Rachel Rising 1: The Shadow of Death by Terry Moore, finished June 16
042) Team Rodent: How Disney Devours the World by Carl Hiaasen, finished June 9
041) Missile Mouse: The Star Crusher by Jake Parker, finished June 8
040) Silas Marner by George Eliot, finished June 5

Books 36 - 39
039) Screwed by by Tyler Kirkham, Keith Thomas, David Miller; finished June 3
038) Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein, finished March 2
037) Missile Mouse: Rescue on Tankium3 by Jake Parker, finished May 30
036) Undeath & Taxes by Carter Reid, finished May 26 or maybe a couple days earlier

Books 33 - 35
035) Of Many Hearts and Many Minds: The Mormon Novel and the Post-Utopian Challenge of Assimilation by Scott Hales, finished May 22
034) Field Notes on Language and Kinship by Tyler Chadwick, finished May 21
033) The Long Ships by Frans G. Bengtsson, finished May 20

Books 29 - 32
032) Mormon X: Confessions of a Latter-day Mutant by Ben Christensen, finished May 8
031) Consenting Adults; or, the Duchess Will Be Furious by Peter De Vries, finished May 6
030) The Sleep of Reason edited by C. Spike Trotman, finished April 30
029) Ruby's Secret by Heather B. Moore, finished April 12

Books 22 - 28
028) Road to Bountiful by Donald S. Smurthwaite, finished April 7
027) Atlas of Prejudice: Mapping Stereotypes, Vol. 1 by Yanko Tsvetkov, finished April 6
026) Thelwell Country by Norman Thelwell, finished April 6
025) The House at Rose Creek by Jenny Proctor, finished March 31
024) Barnaby, Volume One by Crockett Johnson, finished March 17
023) A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver, finished March 17
022) Irene #3 edited by dw, Andy Warner, Dakota McFadzean; finished March 15

Books 18 - 21
021) Love Letters of the Angels of Death by Jennifer Quist, finished March 14
020) The Iowa Baseball Confederacy: A Novel by W. P. Kinsella, finished March 12
019) The Complete Peanuts: 1989 - 1990 by Charles M. Schulz, finished March 11
018) Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poppypants by Dav Pilkey

Books 14 - 17
017) Captain Underpants and the Big, Bad Battle of the Bionic Booger Boy, Part 2: The Revenge of the Ridiculous Robo-Boogers by Dav Pilkey, finished February 22
016) Who Was Jim Henson? by Joan Holub, finished February 18
015) The Reluctant Blogger by Ryan Rapier, finished February 15
014) The Maid's Version by Daniel Woodrell, finished February 14

Books 10 - 13
013) The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, finished February 12
012) Jedi Academy by Jeffrey Brown, finished February 5
011) The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell, finished January 27
010) The Complete Peanuts 1987-1988 by Charles M. Schulz, finished January 25

Books 6 - 9
009) Heat by Mike Lupica, finished January 22
008) Happy Birthday, Bad Kitty by Nick Bruel, finished January 21
007) Impasse by Kohl Glass (story by Jason Conforto), finished January 16
006) Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan, finished January 16

Books 1 - 5
005) The Man Who Grew His Beard by Olivier Schrauwen, finished January 12
004) Pokémon Black and White, Vol. 1 by Hidenori Kusaka and Satoshi Yamamoto, finished January 10
003) Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hick, finished January 7
002) The Drop by Michael Connelly, finished January 7
001) The Rejection Collection, Vol. 2 edited by Matthew Diffee, finished January 6

No comments:

Post a Comment