Grant Morrison’s ‘Signature Weakness’

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Taking his cue from the recent postings on Douglas Wolk’s fine chapters, from his new book Reading Comics, on Grant Morrison (parts I, II, III, IV) Noah Berlatsky comments on what he sees as Morrison’s ‘signature weakness’, namely his failure to think visually and to truly collaborate with the artists he works with. While I think Noah is, as usual, unduly harsh in his assessment — Morrison has, from time to time, worked with competent artists, and Frank Quitely is great despite his storytelling weaknesses — I basically agree. Way too many inferior artists on Morrison’s scripts: everything from the almost two decades old Animal Man stories to the current Batman work, and especially The Invisibles, suffer immeasurably from it.

Blade Runner FC at Venice

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Aintitcool has reports from the screening of Blade Runner – the Final Cut at the Venice Film Festival (for those who have no clue what I’m talking about – check out my earlier piece on the film). I ain’t trusting these people to quite know what they’re talking about; I can’t believe that almost every scene has been retouched in some way. That just seems nonsensical and I certainly hope it isn’t the case. Also, I find it difficult to believe that the filmmakers have added a lot of extra stuff, like extra spinners flitting through the air, George Lucas-style. If true, colour me even more sceptical. However, they have evidently left out the Hospital scene with Holden, which is a good thing. I’m not sure how crazy I am about this teaser of the recut unicorn scene – the idea of intercutting is fine, but it strikes me as weirdly stilted and insistent – but will wait till I have actually seen how it works in the film before judging too harshly. In any case: Looking forward to drop date, and wish I were in Venice (I will be later this month, but by then the festival will be over – argh!).

Christian Skovgaard’s “Owl”

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As a special treat here in the Bunker, we present Danish cartoonist Christian Skovgaard’s latest comic, “Owl,” for your reading/ogling pleasure!

Christian Skovgaard Petersen is one of the Danish scene’s most promising graphic talents, with a sly sense of the weird in the world. He was in BLÆK, he published the strip “Hotellto,” amongst other things, in the Danish anthology Free Comics for a while (all available for free download at their site), and he has contributed illustrations and comics to a number of other comics anthologies and publications. Check his MySpace here, and this online gallery for more stuff.

Notes on the ongoing Cartoon Controversies

In what is a rather depressing turn of events, news came earlier today that cartoonist Guillermo Torres and writer Manuel Fontdevila have been fined €2.500 each for their cartoon, on the cover of satirical weekly El Jueves, back in July, of the Spanish Crown Prince and his wife in doggy-style position. “Insulting the Crown” is the offense, and they risked a prison sentence. Absolutely ridiculous (more on why I think so here). I sincerely hope the debate this has sparked in Spain will eventually ensure that this kind of verdict is never passed again.

On the other hand, it seems that the authorities in Sweden are handling the fallout over Lars Vilks’ childish Muhammed cartoons rather well, despite the temptation towards an inconcilliatory hardline stance that the usual, moronic death threats received by Vilks, as well as assorted flag-burnings in Pakistan might otherwise have provoked. Let’s hope this imbroglio dies the quick, quiet death it deserves.

Tour de France 2007: The Collected Metabunker Coverage

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As this year’s Tour de France rolled around, the Metabunker’s own T. Thorhauge was as usual parked in front of the TV, but contrary to previous years, he this time around went in the footsteps of his avowed mentor Jørgen Leth (pictured) and provided commentary! For your convenience, here’s the collected linkage:

July 10: Fausto Coppi and ‘La Bomba’
July 13: The Thin Air Is Coming
July 15: Rasmussen’s Reign
July 24: We Few, We Happy Few
July 25: ‘Cycling is War’
July 26: Exit Chicken!
July 29: When the Second Best Man Becomes the Best (Or: Showdown in Angoulême)

Enjoy!

Immersion and Alienation

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On Thomas’ recommendation, I went and saw The Bourne Ultimatum last night. I now understand there’s been a lot of discussion of it online, with David Bordwell providing a great analysis of especially its “run-and-gun” visual style, as well as commenting further on the claim made by some that it is particularly innovative in this respect.

I agree fully with his analysis, though I still found the action entertaining, and not particularly confusing, to watch. But, since the avowed objective is apparently to create an immersive experience, I find it exceedingly puzzling that such jarring and alienating plot holes as not explaining how Bourne gets into his adversary, the CIA Boss,’ by all appearances highly secured and guarded office to steal his documents, are given free pass. In a movie so concerned with showing us the masterful, two-steps-ahead movements of the protagonist, this kind of thing is close to unforgivable. No amount of “immersive” bouncy handhelds, telephoto close-ups, rapid cutting, swishpans or pounding scoring can conceal such storytelling blunders.

How Hard Can It Be? II

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Inspired by this blog post, courtesy Con C de Arte, exemplifying Andy Kubert’s consistently unimaginative and chronically lazy approach to grounding his work in any kind of believable reality, I thought I’d supply my own example, from Batman #665, written by Grant Morrison. Just as is the case with his depiction, in Batman #658, of Gibraltar as an island inhabited by beret-wearing, mustache-adorned – and probably baguette-toting – Frenchies, his conjuring up of Venice is somewhat lacking, to say the least. How exactly did the Ponte Vecchio of Florence end up in the Serenissima? I mean, how hard can it be to do a Google image search for ‘Venice’, find, say, the Rialto bridge in the first set of images, and stick it on the page the way it was done with the famous Florentine bridge here? And what’s with the viking longboat-style ‘gondolas’? Where are the editors in all of this?

Who Drew the Original Spider-Man?

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By Morten Søndergård

[To mark what would have been Jack Kirby’s 90th birthday yesterday, we re-present this piece on the first Spider-Man stories, written for Rackham back in 2002 by Danish Marvel editor, translator, retailer and all-round specialist Morten Søndergård. Enjoy!]

Who drew the original Spider-Man? There is of course only one answer, right? Steve Ditko? He drew the first appearance of Spider-Man in Amazing Fantasy (‘AF’) #15, continued in Amazing Spider-Man (‘ASM’) #1 to #38, after which he left Marvel due to creative differences with Stan Lee over the identity of the man behind the mask of the Green Goblin.

But there is a slight problem: AF#15 and the first story in ASM #1 do not look like pure Ditko, but rather a combination of Kirby and Ditko. How can that be? What is the story?

Yellow Scholarship II

original_keed.jpgTom Spurgeon has responded to my rodomontade on the Yellow Kid from yesterday. He writes:

“I’m not all that convinced by Wivel’s restatement, and I find a lot of his rhetoric slippery. For one, I very obviously didn’t show in my original argument that Gary Groth is ignorant of 19th Century comics-making in favor of a view of Yellow Kid as the genesis of everything. What I pointed out is that Gary was unfairly portrayed that way in a film trailer when I thought it pretty clear he was looking at Yellow Kid as a landmark starting point in terms of industry impact and locking into place a firm path of development at that point forward — the way Christopher Columbus discovered America for modern Europe despite entire civilizations already being here, or the way you can point to seven or eight American college football games as the first one depending on your standards for doing so.