There’s a piece of example art, a small cartoon about a man leaving work then entering into his daily commute home (but the plot twist comes as, that commute is via rocket-pack), that Will Eisner uses to make a point in his book on comics pedagogics, Graphic Storytelling. It’s a piece from Eisner’s own illustrious body of work, but I can’t get to the name right now. I could get at the name if I wanted, and writing as little as one generation ago, I probably would have needed to. And the ref is real easy to come by. The piece is more than likely referenced in Graphic Storytelling itself, and not even in the notes at the back of the book, but right there where the cartoon is excerpted. And it’s not like Eisner’s book isn’t on the shelf right beside where I write. But after Google, after Napster, after Facebook and Twitter, after everything these last few years, that’s not the way the world works anymore. Not when anyone can reach out discover the title for themselves. Not when we’re all at an equal distance to every kind of information conceivable, even if that distance is as close as “only a click away.” In this world, after everything we’ve been thru digitally, culturally, it just doesn’t work like that anymore. After everything we’ve been thru, it’s better for me to just kick back and turn up H.I.M.‘s Uneasy Listening.
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Think of what it must have been like for those creators taking the very first steps into the brave new format of the graphic novel. Not Will Eisner who’s generally acknowledged as the progenitor of the format, but a little later on, think of Chris Claremont and Brett Anderson, writer and artist respectively on the X-Men graphic novel, God Loves, Man Kills which would eventually become the basis for the 2003 hit, X2: X-Men United.
Maybe NYPD Blue did it best, in those days Back When. At least Blue did it better than Homicide: Life on the Streets, when the two seemed in competition for the gritty-realism-brought-to-TV crown. It was that sense of the panoramic, but a panorama forced outwards to the edge of the scene. Each crime scene the intrepid detectives from the 15th found themselves investigating would be subjected to a panning shot, and usually thereafter a tracking shot or two to follow the detectives thru the same scene. Certain things would always hit. The old lady in her robe and slippers smoking, or maybe the Korean bodega owner, or maybe the homeless guy with the shiny, new watch.
It was a visually evocative, and ultimately, a beautiful way to tell a story. And in the Fall of 92, and for nearly every year later for a decade, it became a wonderfully elegiac way to shot New York, one that infused the TV show with that quintessential urban energy of the place itself. In the thousands of scenes that comprise the entire 12 seasons of NYPD Blue, the map and the territory become one.
For WZW, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. never said “I have a plan…”
Could Beethoven, even in his deafness, have retained the memory of perfect pitch? Could his music be nothing more than the rigorous working out of an abstract calculus? A working out on a scale of genius far beyond any of us?
If you’ve missed out on the first two issues of Larfleeze, not to worry… well, maybe worry a bit. Maybe go out and go find them, because you’ve really missed out on a secret treat. But if you’re worried about picking up with issue #3, not to worry. There’s an easy introduction to the current dilemma faced by our not-quite-so-intrepid protagonist, by way of (of all things, if you can imagine), postures, poses, places really.