Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Now for Another Blog about Comics

Today I read something called Ball peen hammer. I judge books by their covers. It is how I find things. I so I am upset with this book because it had one ballin cover, but not a lot of stuff to back it up with. The book itself is a pretty dark meditation on art, the nature of art, and humanity. Or at least it tries to be. The problm is that the book is to short to really say anything and the author commited the cardinal sin of crowding out the artist.

Graphic Novels come in all shapes and sizes and they all utilize art to varying degrees. Some books use it very well and they really do let the pictures say the thousands of words they were dsighned to say. Sometimes the art is there bcause the graphic novelist decided that they were to lazy to write descriptive text so they hired some shmoe to do the art for them. This book however belongs to a rather tragic third category of writers who present a fantastic story in an interesting world, but then fail to use the art effectivly enough to really make the story come alive. And that is to bad because Ball Peen Hammer could be something great.

The book itself intoduces several elements that we are meant to take in quickly. Society is falling apart in this paticular part of the world. However, there is still something called the syndicate who appears to be doing just fine as they have troops, automatic weapons, and a cure for the enigmatic plague that is running around. There is an enigmatic plague. There was an underground tunnel were artists and musician hung out and it served as a bastion against the syndicate and that fell just recently. The thing is all of this is told in an expository statment with minimalistic art to back it up. What should of happened is there should of been a full page spread showing what happened, showing the last stand of the artists, and how they eventually fell.

There were a couple of other places that should of had full page spreads to them too. But that is the one that stuck out the most. It kinda had a spread showing the events but it didn't get the job done. Not nearly the way it should of been done that is for sure. Instead we are left with sparcely drawn scenes that convey little emotion. THe book itself is very sad, and it has several unusually fucked up moments in them but they don't really bring any of it home. We don't really get a sense of who these people were, so we can see what they were reduced to. Granted what they are reduced to is bad enough but getting a better image of before would of helped out greatly.

The last think about the book that got to me is that is pissed me off. See I love art. Art is one of those things that can lift up the spirit, bring comfort even though the world is ending, and inspire us to greatness. That was half of the point to castaway in case you didn't get it. I mean jesus art makes us feel. Normally, when I feel it is either because real life is doing something to me or because I am looking at art. When I read something that takes my breath away, or plunges me into a deep medative state, or even if it makes me want to cry this is amazing. All I need to do is to sit down, open myself up, and let the art go off and do its thing inside of me. As a result there was this one time where I almost vomited while watching Begotten. But no one makes you do that.

This doesn't focus on that. It doesn't focus on anything. Instead it makes artists look vain, self centered, able to spout bullshit philosphy to justify their actions and blah blah blah. These people they aren't really artists. They are the hangers on. The people who produce, then drink, and fuck thier lives away in a passionless attempt to fill a void that art would be able to fill if they just fucking paid atension. Instead, everyone just gives in, and as a result children die for no descernable reason.

I wouldn't be so upset by the last two paragraphs if the book wasn't so clumsily done. If it was done something like Nightly News, Bottomless Bellybutton, I would of been happier. Instead it is a mess of a book which has a cool cover and serivable art that fails to bring the story home or enrich it with any sort of meaning other than the stuff we could of gotten just by reading the words on the page.

If you could get the exact same meaning out of reading the script for this graphic novel, as you could by reading the final product then it is important to go back and have a few more conversations with your artist.


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