Comics

That Old Magic Feeling: Exclusive Preview of "Fairest #24"

It's a wonderful feeling to return to comics' pulp roots with a kind of fairy-tale storytelling that's even older.

EXCLUSIVE PREVIEW

Around about page six of the upcoming issue of Fairest, both the flashback, and the magic kick in. No surprise there, the flashback is deeply tied to the magic of this issue.

You'd part the way expect to find a black cat walk across the background of the scene, while Cinderella (Cindy) and Marcel Champagne are aboard the boat. There's a definite air of superstition and magic aboard. But of course, any cat would threaten Marcel's rodent-affinity. So a clear signal of the mystery and magic of the oceans in the form of a black cat aboard a ship might be a bridge too far.

Not that the scene is light on the magic inherent in genre. Like all Fables scenes this one this story weaves together the structure of ages-old fairy stories with the kind of pulp directives that make these stories even more accessible for a modern audience.

But the real magic is something deeper, the kind of memory-mediated storytelling that emerges from a flashback-driven story. The kind of thing you'd find on an episode of True Detective. Turn the page and out of nowhere, you're taken back to the moment where the last issue left off.

It's a wonderful feeling, to return to comics' pulp roots, with a kind of fairy-tale storytelling that's even older.

Please enjoy our exclusive preview of Fairest #24.

EXCLUSIVE PREVIEW

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

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Music

The Best Country Music of 2017

still from Midland "Drinkin' Problem" video

There are many fine country musicians making music that is relevant and affecting in these troubled times. Here are ten of our favorites.

Year to year, country music as a genre sometimes seems to roll on without paying that much attention to what's going on in the world (with the exception of bro-country singers trying to adopt the latest hip-hop slang). That can feel like a problem in a year when 58 people are killed and 546 are injured by gun violence at a country-music concert – a public-relations issue for a genre that sees many of its stars outright celebrating the NRA. Then again, these days mainstream country stars don't seem to do all that well when they try to pivot quickly to comment on current events – take Keith Urban's muddled-at-best 2017 single "Female", as but one easy example.

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Burt Lancaster not only stars in The Kentuckian (1955) but directed and produced it for the company he co-founded with Ben Hecht. The result is an exciting piece of Americana accoutred in all sorts of he-man folderol, as shot right handsomely in Technicolor by Ernest Laszlo and scored by Bernard Herrmann with lusty horns to echo the source novel, Felix Holt's The Gabriel Horn.

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Artist biographies written for a popular audience necessarily involve compromise. On the one hand, we are only interested in the lives of artists because we are intrigued, engaged, and moved by their work. The confrontation with a work of art is an uncanny experience. We are drawn to, enraptured and entranced by, absorbed in the contemplation of an object. Even the performative arts (music, theater, dance) have an objective quality to them. In watching a play, we are not simply watching people do things; we are attending to the play as a thing that is more than the collection of actions performed. The play seems to have an existence beyond the human endeavor that instantiates it. It is simultaneously more and less than human: more because it's superordinate to human action and less because it's a mere object, lacking the evident subjectivity we prize in the human being.

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