October 8, 2008

A few days after writing this post, I finally got my hands on volume 1 of “DMZ.” Despite my affection for the local boys, Fantom Comics was sold out of the first book, and I finally had to haul my ass into Georgetown. Barnes & Noble’s online inventory promised they had it in stock, so when I found myself over that way for an eye appointment* last week I finally, finally had an excuse to go the extra few blocks and buy what turned out to be the Second Best Comic Book I’ve Read This Year.**

It was so good freaking awesome that I read it despite my eyes having just been dilated. I could barely see the sidewalk in front of me on the way to the store (including the cross-don’t cross signs at the intersections, sorry Power Suit Guy in the Lexus at Penn and 23rd), but once I finally had “DMZ” in my hands I couldn’t NOT read it, right? So I sat there for an afternoon partially blinded, feeling like Mr. Burns in the “X-Files” episode of “the Simpsons,” squinting and crinkling my nose (that helps!) but plowing through because it was every bit as good as I’d hoped.

Before this year, I’d always been a fan of the heavy hitters but never actually spent much time reading graphic novels. This year, with “Watchmen” and “Fables” and now “DMZ,” I’m kicking myself for not going there sooner.

On the way home from Georgetown, I stopped at Fantom Comics in Union Station because previous experience had already proven them to be well-stocked with Volume 2. A few nights ago I was up until 1:30 finishing it, despite the 7:30 a.m. start time the next day at work. I’m up to Volume 3 now, which I picked up from Politics and Prose this afternoon, still trying to atone for the karmic sin of not trusting the indie stores first. It’s the hump volume, because once I finish that one there will be more unread volumes than read ones.*** Suggestions for what to tackle next are welcome and encouraged. Seriously, please? I can see the withdrawal hitting in about two weeks right after I turn the last page of Volume 5.

*Blocked tear duct. I’m physically incapable of crying right now. Irony noted.

**I did read “Watchmen” for the first time earlier this year.

*** Volume 6 in January! Woo!



September 18, 2008

Via Coilhouse, I learned of the Alan Moore interview posted today at the LA Times. Every time he emerges from his hermitlike existence across the sea is cause for celebration, and I’ve been waiting for him to get in some commentary about the “Watchmen” adaptation. He does not disappoint:

Will the film even be coming out? There are these legal problems now, which I find wonderfully ironic. Perhaps it’s been cursed from afar, from England. And I can tell you that I will also be spitting venom all over it for months to come.

I remain excited for the film, though I am keeping my expectations low.

Back to Coilhouse, this put into words that nagging feeling that’s been bothering me, too, lately:

We’ve entered an era ruled by scavengers. We are starving for substance. Obviously, we can’t look to Hollywood to nourish us. Still, the platform of narrative movie making has its own profound and distinctive magic. Here’s hoping that somehow…more and more storytellers standing beyond the gates of the sausage factory will be goaded, either by hunger or the pure urgency of inspiration, into making their own moving pictures.

The Jim Henson exhibit at the Smithsonian right now made me sad for all sorts of reasons: nostalgic longing for childhood, disappointment with the scope of the exhibit, its ban on photography, and the reminder that Henson’s death was probably one of the first I ever really noticed as a kid. What the exhibit did really well was remind you that Henson was more than just the Muppets and Fraggle rock, and that his movies got even more out there than “Dark Crystal” and “Labyrinth.” There’s a running video showing chunks of his 1965 filmTimepiece,” which epitomizes everything great about experimental film and manages to contain some spark that still forces audiences 45 years later to sit and watch it. And walking through that basement room in the Smithsonian, everyone stops to watch.

Going through that exhibit–from the Muppets, past the early TV commercials, over to the “Dark Crystal,” and out again through some kids playing with “Sesame Street” characters–made me marvel that he was so freaking brilliant and somehow managed to do it all: the commercial creator (literally: his early TV spots were for Wilkins Coffee) who found massive success but never, ever stopped experimenting and telling out-there stories. Who does that now? Does anyone? Do they get to keep doing it for very long? Or does it all just end up like Spike Jonze and his “Where the Wild Things Are” adaptation: watered down, fought over, delayed, containing only a spark of its potential awesomeness.

Meredith Yayanos over at Coilhouse is right: We’re starving for substance, and so far none of the magic new tools of the wondrous Web of ours have managed to deliver. I’m mildly disappointed in the world right now, though perhaps I should treat it all like the “Watchmen” movie: lowered expectations and pleasant surprise when it finally manages to come out OK.