Wednesday, June 11, 2003

All right. So now the actual posting begins.

I had this idea that I was going to be a big, tough guy and actually read Gravity's Rainbow- it's important, it's the foundation of postmodern literature , and all that. Never mind the fact that absolutely no one I know has been able to wade through the bastard- they're not me.

So, um, yeah. After about 120 pages of giant, sentient adenoids and German orgies, I sort of gave up. And as a complete reversal, I've picked up The Essential Fantastic Four. And it sort of kicks ass.

A couple of things about the Fantastic Four... They don't get a lot of love right now, but I think you can say that the modern comic industry wouldn't exist without them. After all of the congressional BS of the mid-fifties, DC comics was scared of its own shadow and was flooding the market with bland, inoffensive versions of all their usual lineup- a squeaky-clean Batman, Superman with a stick up his ass, and so on. And then Marvel changed everything with Fantastic Four #1. The FF are still pretty squeaky clean (it takes about 3 pages in FF#1 for them to put their hands together and swear to fight evil), but they're remarkably different from the DC characters in that they're emotionally human. They fight. They don't always feel like doing what's right. They're... I dunno, interesting in a way that DC's musclebound asskickers weren't at that point.

Suddenly, Marvel was selling tons of comics (Spider-Man appeared at about the same time, and also met with wild success, for the same reasons), and over time grew into the dominant publisher. Spidey has stayed popular, more or less, but the FF have faded from the public eye.

I didn't mean to go off on such a tangent about the history of the comic industry, so let's leave it at that for now. The other thing I wanted to get to is that, while reading all of these old comics (most of the stuff in Essential FF dates back to like 1961), I finally get all of the Jack Kirby hype. I'd previously only seen his work on the early X-Men series, and, um, that was all pretty crappy. It's pretty clear that he was devoting all of his time to the Fantastic Four back then... the action panels are crisp and much easier to read than a lot of modern stuff, and all of his diagrams and designs for Reed Richards' high-tech equipment has this gorgeous future-as-of-1961 design aesthetic. Good stuff.

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