Monday, April 03, 2006

Insufficiently menky

In the minds of the non-geek, there is a definite correlation between involvement in a certain type of fandom (Doctor Who, for instance) and fandom in other areas (manga, for another example).

But no matter what the geeky niche you inhabit, all of the not-we assume that if you are involved, at however large a remove, in one type of geek fandom, you will definitely like at least one, very specific, other.

I write, of course, of comics.

"You like Doctor Who? So what's the deal with 'Batman Begins' then? How can they retcon it into Golden Age Batman?" [possibly not entirely perfectly remembered transcript of a question I was asked at a party last year].

"I have no f******g idea" [word perfect transcript of my slightly drunken answer].

The fact I work in IT apparently makes it all the worse that I know sod all about comics (and recent Graham Linehan disappointment The IT Crowd didn't help with the main character being unwilling to do any work because he was reading not a novel, but a comic).

But I really don't. The only vague flirtation I have ever had with comics was when I was about seven, on holiday in Mallaig, and we went into a rather strange seaside tat shop which, right at the back, had one of those whirly gig affairs, stacked with comics from 1973 (this would have been 1976). I got my dad to buy me a copy of each
comic they had and read them now and again over the years, before giving them away to IIRC Craig Hinton, who collects such things. I mean, they were alright and passed a few minutes each when I was stuck in the frozen wilds of western Scotland, but it's not like they were books or anything important.

The I got a copy of the Alan Moore graphic novel, From Hell, a few months ago and finally got round to reading it last month.

And in a word it's astonishing.

Whereas my pile of early 70s Marvel comics had featured unsubtle and heavy-handed misogyny and racism in the storylines (Swamp Thing being big on the former as I recall and Dr Doom's army to the fore on the latter), From Hell is at times as delicately nuanced as a Jane Austen novel.

Where the seventies superheroes were pretty badly drawn and garishly coloured, the Alan Moore book was filled with beautiful pencil drawings.

Most vitally, where my collection of tatty comics were clearly written for thirteen year old boys with no girlfriend, From Hell treats its audience as adults (there's a prince with an erection within a dozen pages, which never happened in Doctor Strange: Master of the Mystic Arts). It evens ends with a long appendix section, which does more to discuss various Ripper theories than several full-length academic works I've read.

It really is a wonderful book.

And so it is that I've ordered a pile more graphic novels today, by Moore and a couple of others I've had recommended.

I'm worried I'm turning into an uber-geek, but so long as I never buy a copy of Akira, I should be alright...
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Blogger Stewart M. said...

I've never seen it, but I heard Akira was a fairly decent cyberpunk-anime sort of thing? What's so shameful about that, aside from the anime part?

Alan Moore got me into comics as well. The greatest series I've ever read would have to be Grant Morrison's The Invisibles, however. If you like anything by Lawrence Miles, you'll love this series. I've got it all in a digital format, if you're interested...

2:35 am  
Blogger Stuart Douglas said...

Actaully I believe that Akira is exactly as you say - but I really have never managed to get into any anime and I'm a little worried that if I add Manga to sf, old telly, cult music and the other borderline OCD obsessions I have, I'll explode :)

Co-incidentally, yesterday I ordered some graphic novels from Amazon, including Volume 1 of the Invisibles.

- Another Suburban Romance - Alan Moore
- The Complete Halo Jones - Alan Moore
- The Best of the Spirit - Will Eisner
- The Invisibles: Say You Want a Revolution - Grant Morrison
- Y: The Last Man - Brian Vaughan

9:59 am  
Blogger Stewart M. said...

Definitely let me know how those are - with the exception of The Invisibles, I actually haven't read any of those books.

10:11 pm  
Blogger Lee said...

Good choices there, although to be honest, not the Moore I would have gone for. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is probably the best of his recent work.

I could easily recommend 500 comic books one should read, but if you enjoy that little batch, one of the best guides to comics worth reading is Paul Gravett's Graphic Novels: Stories to Change Your Life which, besides being incredibly diverse, is beautifully produced. Have a thumb through it next time you're in Waterstones.

1:44 pm  
Blogger Stuart Douglas said...

Lee: "not the Moore I would have gone for"

I've now been told by several people that 'Another Suburban Romance" is a Moore comic in the same way that those James Bond books by writers other than Ian Fleming are Fleming books - "based on an idea by Alan Moore" is apparently a more honest description of the book.

Oh well, you live and learn (and I only chose that one because it was £2.50 anyway)

2:09 pm  
Blogger alienvoord said...

The Invisibles
The Invisibles
The Invisibles

You should read Watchmen as well.

6:27 pm  

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