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Books, Bladders, Biology, and the Flammability of the Undead

So today I finished "Watchmen" by Alan Moore, a graphic novel that has been previously mentioned to me as a paragon of good layout. All I can say is that it might well be good layout--I didn't notice. I was too busy being captivated by the story. (Well, okay, the placement of captions and word balloons was really slick, I did notice that.) Superbly well done, I recommend it highly, particularly to those, like me, who have a passing interest in comics but did not break into the genre at a young age, and so have only a mild acquaintence with most of the titles out there. Being rooted very strongly in the Cold War fear of nuclear war with Russia, it doesn't have quite the same relevance today--it's set in 1985, and I am just barely old enough to remember the peculiarly resigned terror that most of us had of nuclear war then. However, it weathers well, and conjures up the atmosphere so well that even if you were fortunate enough to become a sentient being after the days of mutual assured destruction, I think it'd ring true.

Plus it had a really intelligent villain. I approve of anyone who explains his master plan to the heroes only after it's been put into action and can no longer be stopped.

Illustrated the obligatory work for the day (which I quite enjoyed--these spot illos are great. I just flip through the manual, find a spot that has a space left for illustration, and then read the area around it to decide what I'd like to propose to go there. Best line so far "Undead are considered flammable." How can you not love an illo like that?) and then sat in front of the next page of "Irrational Fears" feeling vaguely inadequate. Here's a comic commenting on the grim, scary, weird, humane issues of the day, and doing so with style and gritty grace, and what stuff do I do? Two slapstick mammals and a severed dinosaur brain. Goth teen musings from an anemic bat. The saga of a small green thingy and her lint sidekick, facing the monsters under the bed. Maybe Chu should be breaking into nuclear missile silos and frying the circuitboards or something.

Fortunately, my social conscience is huddled far back in the musty chicken coop of my skull, trying not to get beaten up by the other, meaner and burlier personality traits (like my musclebound sense of sarcasm) and my brief twinge didn't last long. You gotta pay your dues making cool stories before anyone's willing to listen to you preach, anyhow, and if there's one thing I've learned while doing this project, it's that an astonishing number of otherwise normal adults are still scared of the monster under the bed. (On a somewhat related note, I recently read that someone proposed that this fear is a outgrowth of the old instinctive terror that primates in the trees had of predators on the ground. It's an interesting theory. I dunno if I'm quite willing to buy that far into sociobiology, but it's interesting.)

In other news, my cat is fully recovered (and is currently doing his world-renowned "roadkill on the couch" impersonation.) Thanks to everyone who thought good thoughts at him--I'm too much of a scientist to be quite certain if they help, but I know they certainly don't hurt, and I appreciate the thought! (Now I owe the god of cats a painting. I'm also not sure if she exists, but even if she doesn't, I feel obligated to keep my end of the bargain.) His recovery has strengthened my faith in homeopathy, which I generally don't quite trust for animals--I always assume that it works on humans in part because we're expecting it to work, whereas the cat merely views being grabbed and pilled as a humiliating assault upon his dignity and has no such placebo-effect expectations. But he's as fat, dumb and happy as ever, so obviously something worked.

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A few notes.

If you liked Watchmen", you would probably like "Finder" by Carla Speed McNeil. As it is a long and engrossing story. There are a lot of other interesting comics for mature sensibilities out there, but you have to dig for them. I can recommend more if you would like, but at least most of Finder is out in paperback collectiosn that are reasonably priced.

Leave the "messages" for Western Union, and "Preaching" to the minister, forst a foremost set out to tell a good story, and from there you might add, or salt in a little "education' but serve the needs of the story and the audience first and foremost.and when you figure out how to do that, please tell me.

Good news about the cat, as a cat owner,I sympathize, but at least a sick cat is not nearly as annoying as ick children. After spending Christmas at my brother's house. I NEVER want kids.


The layout of Watchmen is, indeed, interesting. Gibbons employs a very rigid 3x3 grid structure; all panels larger than that still slot into the grid. Be sure to take a look at the overall structure of the 'Fearful Symmetry' chapter, in layout and actions.

And don't forget the way the splotch of blood on the Comedian's smiley-face button becomes a repeated visual theme! (The book covers vary from edition to edition; mine bears an extreme close-up of one eye and that blood-splat.)

Glad to hear the kitty's okay. ;)

I need to read Watchmen again... it's been probably over 10 years since i read it.....

If you like to study good proportion and layout can I also suggest 'The Tale of One Bad Rat' by Bryan Talbot.

And while searching online for the ISBN because I couldnt find my copy I found, which has nothing much to do with One Bad Rat, but is funny you know. - http://www.bryan-talbot.com/gallery4/honest1.html

Preach if you like.

You're an artist, which means you can do anything you want in front of an audience. Whether the audience decides to watch is another matter.

Bearing that in mind, remember also that preaching is like art: if you want people to pay attention to you, you'd better have somethng new and interesting to say, or at least a new and interesting way of saying it. A comic strip whose message is NUCLEAR WAR IS BAD would be like one in which spandex-clad superheroes battle an evil genius bent on world destrution: a rehash of old cliches.

In conclusion: don't let this (http://www.jerkcity.com/jerkcity1371.html) happen to you.

--Baker St. Muse

Undead are flammable

and apparently so are ringwraiths. I found that hilarious. Here are the awful monsterous unkillable things, on fire and flailing about innefectually. Not a criticism, I loved the film. That scene just cracked me up. But I digress...


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