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« : 12.09.2004, klo 14:03:05 »

...on se, että ne näyttävät sen mitä lukijan pitäisi itse kuvitella - sanoo Jeff Danziger. Mitähän mieltä hän on elokuvista?

"In the best graphic novels, words are secondary to art
When cartoonists draw on their own talent instead of computer, stories shine

By Jeff Danziger
Special To The Sun
Originally published September 5, 2004

Imagination is your best companion through a novel. My complaint about the graphic novel is that it attempts to illustrate what most readers should imagine on their own. You will far more enjoy your own imagination than some cartoonist's. Even so, graphic novels can be evocative and even fun whenskillfully done. And they can bore one to tears when drawing or writing skill is wanting.

First, the oddest piece of publishing in many moons is In the Shadow of No Towers, Art Spiegelman's consideration of 9/11 (Pantheon, 42 pages, $19.95). Certainly one of the heaviest volumes in your bookstore, it is more leviathan than book, beautifully printed, if oddly so - the pages are thicker than most book covers. It was printed in China, where, sad to say, all quality work seems to be done these days.

The cartoonist's main thrust is that the Bush administration used the disaster of 9/11 to hijack the national direction and justify war in Iraq. This is strong stuff, and to temper it, Spiegelman summons an art form he reveres - the old Sunday comic pages. Characters from those bygone days accompany him through the nightmare of the attacks on New York and try to explain and illustrate the aftermath. In the last half of the book, he shows the characters responding to 9/11 in ways that mark our indistinct fears and shallow prejudices. Comics in the past were once highly patriotic and made ample fun of immigrants. They were also surreal lands of comic invention, so it's not too far-fetched when Spiegelman uses Maggie and Jiggs and the Katzenjammer Kids to explain 9/11. When I was a kid, the best comic section was in the Hearst papers in a section called "Puck, the Comic Weekly." Puck himself stood in the masthead, reminding us, "What fools these mortals be." Well, we still are.

Inevitably compared to Spiegelman's Maus (which nearly everything is by hopeful publishers) is Marjane Satrapi's biographical two-book series of Persepolis and Persepolis 2 (Pantheon, 188 pages, $17.95 each), which traces a young Iranian girl sent from her native Iran during the wars of the 1980s to live and study in Austria. What she gains in safety she loses of her own culture, not that there's anything wrong with missing Ayatollah Khomeini.

It is a story that might have been more subtly explored in prose, especially some of its more intricate points. Satrapi is not a natural artist, but her drawings are simple and evocative. She relies on some threadbare comic-book tricks to define emotions: sweat beads popping out to show fear, nervous lines for insecurity, and so on. In this form, the book may appeal to a younger set of readers, who will learn much from the story of a young girl's wartime life and its resolution.

In publishing, nothing succeeds like excess, so we now have a glut of these books, the long form of something that starts out as a comic strip and can't stop. They have an audience, however, who were once kids raised on superheroes and now want the comfort of the familiar in life's long, hard, dull stretches. A graphic-novel writer should be able to write and draw, or piece the needed talents together with other people. But drawing is almost entirely self-taught in this country these days, and writing is largely imitation of the more successful. Some graphic novelists write passably but produce clunky amateurish renderings that might be amusing for a few panels or even pages. But at book length they can be dreadful, repetitious and annoying.

An example of the nadir is Mark Beyer's Amy and Jordan (Pantheon, 288 pages, $21), which is certainly as bad as you're likely to see. The awful pictures and the silly writing compound each other, and without some sort of pharmaceutical enhancement I don't think anyone will find it amusing.

On the other hand, there's Ben Katchor's Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer series, the latest of which is the brilliantThe Beauty Supply District (Pantheon, 108 pages, $16.95). Katchor's urban landscape is bleak and gray, full of people who don't connect much, but his story, while not exactly compelling, is so true to New York's outer borough life that I think no one has done it better. Katchor's conversations are accurately fragmentary and his drawing is daringly sketchy. He's consistently good from beginning to end. It is a great book to leave where it will be reread.

One of the drawbacks to the graphic novel is the endless redrawing of the same character in panel after panel. It would drive a normal artist crazy, but comic artists don't seem to mind. Some vary the angle and point of view to try to keep the reader awake; but others, perhaps lacking the rendering skill, simply present a series of talking heads, as if there were some latent message in that style. An example is It's a Bird, written by Steven Seagle and illustrated in uninspired watercolor by Teddy Kristiansen (DC Comics, 134 pages, $24.95), a semi-autobiography about a young man and his Superman delusions.

DC Comics ought to sense that something's lacking here. DC is, after all, an imprint of Warner Brothers, which makes money in the vertical integration of creativity. It pushes a basic concept, like the works of H.P. Lovecraft, for instance, as far as it will go - hopefully all the way to a film. Lovecraft's work is in the public domain and thus was ready to be drafted into Lovecraft, a graphic novel by Hans Rodionoff and illustrated by Enrique Breccia (DC Comics, 144 pages, $24.95). Breccia's artistry is admittedly self-taught and colorful, but the pacing makes one yearn for Lovecraft's dense prose, with its old fashioned pretensions and crazy characters. Again - this is my whine - when everything is illustrated little is left for the reader's mind to do. DC also has the book version of its film, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which was another corporate digestion of public domain art. This is a series and shows no sign of stopping.

Not in the public domain but now available in graphic form is Paul Auster's City of Glass (Penguin, 210 pages, $14), a mystery tale set in New York and the first of his enjoyable New York trilogy. It did not need to be illustrated, because it is written almost exclusively for Manhattan residents, which I am, and I think it's fair to say that Auster's prose readers can imagine a better world for his very strange detective Quinn, far more compelling than this only moderately well-drawn version.

Jatkuu vielä...
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« Vastaus #1 : 12.09.2004, klo 14:03:53 »

"The worst offense in these works is the introduction of computer effects. Most of the Photoshop program additions - lettering, coloring and shading - are immediately apparent, and have the same results that computer effects have in movies - they are boring. Mister Negativity by Batton Lash tells of a firm that specializes in supernatural law. The concept is promising, but the slickness and mechanical quality leave me cold. If only artists spent half the time learning to draw that they spend learning Photoshop. After all, the initial lure of the graphic novel, like the comics, was the artwork and little else. The stories were usually predictable.

You can see the early days of some of the most famous heroes - Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman - in the Complete History series from Chronicle Books. Of the three, only Batman has made a successful transition to modern times, curiously because of Bruce's revealed weaknesses rather than his feats of strengths. Wonder Woman, who I remember as being quite sexy then despite the eagle bustier that kept everything in check, is the weirdest, and her back story is a hoot if you've forgotten it. The books, with plenty of detail and illustration, are written by Les Daniels.

Probably the best artist in the early comics, in terms of sheer drafting talent, was the prolific Windsor McCay. He was not only a master of the drawn line but a technical visionary in animation. Artwork flowed from his table at the Cincinnati and New York papers, not just comic strips but the best sports cartoons as well. He discovered and drew the humor of the game of baseball better than anyone, and in our cheap modern journalism, where there are no more sports cartoonists, his brilliant work should be nailed to the forehead of editors everywhere. He also illustrated the columns of Finley Peter Dunne, whose character, Mr. Dooley, defined the politics of an age. McCay defined Mr. Dooley. Checker Book Publishing has two volumes of McCay's work out, and I am grateful to them.

Lastly, two books from the great artist Joe Kulbert show he is still going strong. The first is a compendium of his Sgt. Rock stories. Kulbert has drawn the gruff old master sergeant for years, and his bold authoritative line matches the mood of the war tales. The pages of Between Hell and a Hard Place, from Vertigo Books, practically jump with action during the battles. But Kulbert can write, too, a fact obscured by his first skill. Yossel: April 19, 1943 is a tale of the Warsaw Uprising, a masterpiece drawn in pencil on a gray background with such commanding graphic talent, such knowledge of anatomy, architecture, and action, that it puts the rest of us to flight. There is no doubt that the Holocaust has been nearly exhausted as a subject, but this treatment brings it alive.

It's pretty clear that I show a bias here for the artwork rather than the verbiage in a graphic novel. But that's because the first graphic novel I can remember was God's Man by the American woodcut artist Lynn Ward. Ward's book told the story with no words, and the drawings were done in the stark contrast that woodcuts produce. Ward and his contemporary, Rockwell Kent, gave their many followers the impetus to tell stories with pictures. Good advice, at least from me, is to master the use of pictures alone, drawn with pen, pencil and brush. Keep the words to a minimum and, above all, forget Photoshop.

Jeff Danziger is a political cartoonist and lives in New York. His latest book, Wreckage, Cartoons of the Bush Administration, is published by Steerforth Press.

Copyright © 2004, The Baltimore Sun"

Mistähän sitä aloittaisi...
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"I'd prefer not to be reminded of his continued existence, frankly. If he's hit by a bus--let me know so I can go piss on his grave--otherwise, give it a rest."

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Grrr....


« Vastaus #2 : 03.01.2005, klo 18:12:57 »

Kyllä sarjakuvatkin vaativat mielikuvitusta. Kuvissa on enemmän asiaa kuin niihin on piirretty... Eli niitä tulkitaan. Ja sitten on vielä kuvien välinen yhteys.

Ja tietokone on grafiikan työväline siinä missä mikä tahansa muukin. Mielestäni se on parhaimmillaan silloin kun sitä ei huomaa.

Monissa uusissa (ja etenkin halvoissa) sarjakuvissa on käytetty 3d-malleja sellaisena kuin koneen renderöijä ne ulos sylkäisee. Jos robotin kyljessä ei ole pölyä ja naarmuja, se ei uppoa kuvan todellisuuteen. Paksun viivan kuvissa tasainen väripinta voi sisältää vaikka mitä, mutta kun pinnassa on kuvattu virheetön peiliheijastus, sitä on todella vaikea saada mielessään rosoiseksi.

Uusimman Suomessa myynnissä olevan Heavy Metalin toisessa pääteoksessa on käytetty vain 3d-grafiikkaa ja se toimii aika hyvin. Ainoastaan hämää hahmojen paikoilleen jähmettyminen. Tämä saattaa johtua pienistä virheistä katseen kohdistuksessa ja ilmeissä. Näihin kahteen ominaisuuteen on panostettava paljon, kun tehdään fotorealistista. Ehkä substantiaalisten hahmojen piirtäminen on helpompaa "perinteisillä keinoilla", tai ehkä ihmiset tekevät tietokoneella tavaraa vähemmällä harjoittelulla.
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Also spracht Blau Tiger.
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Kuka mitä häh?


« Vastaus #3 : 07.01.2005, klo 11:54:37 »

Tove Jansson valitteli ihan tätä samaa, että kuva, sarjakuva tai kuvituskuva, kahlitsee lukijan mielikuvitusta. Hänhän onkin itse juuri oiva esimerkki siitä miten lastenkirja köyhistyy tekijänsä kuvittamana.......  Grin

PS: Kiintoisaa olisi joskus visioida, millaisilta esmes Muumien Hemuli, Louska tai Mörkö näyttäisivät JOS ne voisi piirtää ilman Jansson-mallia mielessä. Ks. Disneyn Liisa Ihmemaassa / Tove Janssonin kuvitus ko. teokseen...
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Itsevalaiseva myyrä joka selvittelee kurkkuaan


« Vastaus #4 : 22.01.2005, klo 17:45:33 »

Kiintoisaa olisi joskus visioida, millaisilta esmes Muumien Hemuli, Louska tai Mörkö näyttäisivät JOS ne voisi piirtää ilman Jansson-mallia mielessä. Ks. Disneyn Liisa Ihmemaassa / Tove Janssonin kuvitus ko. teokseen...
Olen katsonut Tove Janssonin kuvituksen Tolkienin Hobbittiin sen ensimmäisessä suomenkielisessä painoksessa. Ne ovat tonttuja.
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”Yhdysvalloissa vuosittain julkaistaan 720 miljoonaa kappaletta »C o m i c s» sarjakuvia … joista ei vain puutu kaikki kasvatuksellinen arvo, vaan jotka ovat suorastaan vahingollisia.” Lastemme puolesta, Kansainvälisen lastensuojelukonferenssin Suomen päätoimikunta 1952.
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« Vastaus #5 : 06.02.2005, klo 15:24:21 »

Se Hobitti- versio on nimeltään Lohikäärmevuori ja siinä on hieman erilainen suomennoskin. Hobitit ovat hoppeleita, Bilbo Reppuli on Kalpa Kassinen yms. Jansson ei ole ainakaan käyttänyt liikaa aikaa kirjailijan kuvailujen lukemiseen, esim. Klonkku, tai siis Kulpsin, näyttää olevan parimetrinen isohampainen hyypiö jolla on jostain syystä seppele otsallaan. Ihan hienoja kuvia noin yleisesti toki.
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"I'd prefer not to be reminded of his continued existence, frankly. If he's hit by a bus--let me know so I can go piss on his grave--otherwise, give it a rest."

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« Vastaus #6 : 10.02.2005, klo 19:57:35 »

...on se, ettei Suomessa ilmesty tarpeeksi "huonoja" sarjakuvia.

Sellaisia kuin Supersarjis (muistan vieläkin kovaotteisen Dredgerin, johon verrattuna Dirty Harry oli puhdas kuin pulmunen), Siivet, Transformers, Nakke jne. Mielellään nämä sarjat saisivat olla halvalle paperille painettuja - pitäisi olla enemmän halpaa ja hauskaa, jota voi viikkorahalla ostaa.

Sarjakuvaa lapsille, ei fanitaidetta nuorille aikuisille!
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<><


« Vastaus #7 : 10.02.2005, klo 22:47:31 »

Voisinpa olla melkein samaa mieltä Lurkerin kanssa. Varsinkin se halpa paperi. Se kun toi aikoinaan suurimman osan lukukokemuksen tunnelmasta. Varsinkin, kun tirhustaa vanhoja jenkkilehtiä...
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Perry Rhodan ei polta tupakkaa!
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Missä tämä näkyy?


« Vastaus #8 : 31.03.2005, klo 19:54:12 »

...on se, ettei Suomessa ilmesty tarpeeksi "huonoja" sarjakuvia.

Onhan Korkkarit.

Tosin melkein seitsemän euron hinta on aivan liian kallis niin huonolle sarjakuvalle.
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Ollapa pallo.
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« Vastaus #9 : 31.03.2005, klo 20:04:32 »

Onhan Korkkarit.

Tosin melkein seitsemän euron hinta on aivan liian kallis niin huonolle sarjakuvalle.

Niinpä. Nekin ovat nykyään sellaisia de luxe -painoksia, joissa on alkuperäisten kansien kuvat sisäkannessa ja muuta kivaa, tarkoitettu sarjakuvien keräilijöille, ei enää niinkään pikkupojille välitunnilla pikaisesti luettavaksi nämä nykyajan korkkarit.

Eipä silti, odotan innolla Avaruuden Korkeajännityksen seuraavaa kokoomapläjäystä!
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