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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Wolverton's Apocalypse & Ware's Futurity

I've just had a couple pieces of writing published -- reviews of some interesting comics/books, by artists I admire. One is on a book of eccentric Bible Illustrations by Basil Wolverton, who made his name working on Mad Magazine and pulpy sci-fi and horror comics in the 40s and 50s.

It's up at The Comics Journal's new online site, here; The Comics Journal is moving into a much stronger online presence this month. They haven't had an "official launch" of the online version of their magazine yet, but there's already a good chunk of content up.

Here's a quote from the Wolverton article, describing his apocalyptic drawings, derived from the Book of Revelations:

Giant, luminous hailstones rain down to crush bloodied heads. Walking corpses with gaunt, ravaged faces stagger through rubbled wastelands. Mouths are reduced to organs fit only for yelling or screaming (oftentimes no teeth are shown, so the mouths are more like gaping wounds — some horrible hole driven into the face). The elements are in upheaval: flames leap higher than skyscrapers, the sea rises up in torsioned waterspouts, the sky ejects airplanes as though spitting watermelon seeds. There was always something toylike in Wolverton’s depiction of architecture, and in these vistas of destruction, the flimsiness of the skyline reads as a rebuke to man’s vanity. The listing skyscrapers look like shoeboxes, with equidistant little window-holes cut into them, being kicked over.

The other piece is appearing in issue #300 of the print version of The Comics Journal. It's a great issue: the bulk of it is taken up with interviews between younger and older generations of cartoonists. There's also some really sharp writing by R. Fiore and a great diagnosis of the ascendency of "Geek Culture" by Tom Crippen. I'm glad they were able to squeak in my review of Chris Ware's last book, Acme Novelty Library #19. Here's the first paragraph:

Part of the fun of Chris Ware’s Acme Novelty Library #19 is seeing him apply his style to a new mode. The first half is a science fiction adventure story, involving a desperate struggle for survival, a failed escape across inhospitable terrain, the murder of several dogs, and even a brief bout of auto-cannibalism. All this transpires on a faltering colony on Mars, and the arid setting allows Ware to maintain his usual formal distance without shortchanging the urgency of the plot. At its core, the story is one of abandonment – both intimate and infinite.

Issue #300 is currently only available in print, so to read the rest, you'll have to hit your local newsstand.

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