ArtVoice Update: Last Week’s Bookmarks/Cutting Room Floor Bookmark/Ripley Interview in Limbo

December 21, 2006

     I have no goddamned idea why the Ripley interview hasn’t run yet, but I know that ‘In The Margins’ is a cramped section as is and perhaps they had more pressing seasonal articles to run.  We were both told that it would run last week or this week and still nothing, so I give up on looking for it at this point.  It’s looking like it might get stuck in development hell and I put the time in on the interview two months ago, so who knows…

     In the meantime, here are the two bookmarks that ran last week (‘Lost Girls’ and ‘Hellblazer: Empathy Is The Enemy’ along with the graphic novel review they didn’t run (Justice: Book One).  I’m going out to do two bar reviews in one night tonight for Night Life so I’ll leave it at that.  And as far as ‘Cheap Degenerate’s Guide To Buffalo Bars’, if you haven’t purchased it yet from the site, hold off for a week; I’m converting it into a 5×8 paperback for portable purposes.  And YourHub contacted me today about a SECOND lunch to discuss things, so keep your fingers crossed for me.  Great things could be on the horizon.  Seeya,

Tom Waters

It’s been too long since Alex Ross committed to a full project in the field of comics thanks to the runaway success of his career as an artist. Justice: Book 1 (DC, $19.99) with Jim Krueger and Doug Braithwaite marks his triumphant return to form in a genre he’s a natural at. For what’s conceived as a twelve part hardcover series, one can’t help but feel that he’s feeding off of the introspective and humanizing work that writer Rags Morales accomplished with Brad Meltzer and Michael Bair in Identity Crisis (DC, $24.99, 2006), and while the first volume is the sincerest form of flattery, it’s still imitation. Hopefully the lofty ambitions of a twelve book story arc will transcend it’s humble and unoriginal origins. Justice not only turns the tables on Good Versus Evil, it flips the table over as DC’s greatest Super Villains conspire to cure all the world’s ills in a plot to discredit, dismember and destroy their superheroic counterparts, The Justice League Of America. Ross’ artwork has evolved to the point where his menagerie of characters no longer look like they’re 45, which is a bonus. At $19.99 for a slim hardcover, it’s a small investment for any avid collector or DC super freak. As a longtime Joker fanatic, I hope that the clown prince of evil makes more than a passing cameo in the volumes to come. While nowhere near as flawless and crafty as Kingdom Come (DC, 1997), it still towers over the heart bleeding banality of The World’s Greatest Superheroes (2005).

It’s impossible to dispute the crossover phenomenon that Lost Girls (Top Shelf Productions, $75.00) by Alan Moore and (Moore’s former wife) Melinda Gebbie has become. Well into it’s second printing, the three volume coffee table meditation on fantasy and erotica makes a powerful statement about the enduring force of physical and psychological love in all of it’s forms. The books cover a chance meeting at a hotel in France during the 20th century between Wendy from Peter Pan, Alice from Alice In Wonderland and Dorothy from The Wizard Of Oz. Moore plots out a brilliant interpretation of each mythos as it applies to puberty and sexual discovery and interlaces each woman’s anecdote with lurid and powerful pornography illustrated by Gebbie. It was a risky project but it paid off in spades, transcending mediums above and beyond just comic reader appeal. Moore is the greatest living comic writer of our time and it’s a shame that his graphic novels have been so poorly adapted on the silver screen. The odds of Lost Girls becoming a popcorn action movie are slim to nil, which I’m grateful for. His gift and his curse is that his stories are perfect on the printed page only. The pacing is a bit sluggish at times over the course of the three volumes and coldly cerebral at other times but the message is timeless: make love, not war, baby. This series is guaranteed to skyrocket in value so scoop it up if you can find it while it’s still on shelves.

‘It was so tangible I could taste it, like biting into an electrified fence.’ This is how crime fiction author Denise Mina voices a peripheral character’s recollection of a dying infant along with Leonardo Manco’s stark and realistic artwork in John Constantine, Hellblazer: Empathy Is The Enemy (DC/Vertigo, $14.99). The British Magus has never been fleshed out by a female writer, and the results are indisputable. The series is a lightning rod for the finest talents in and out of the comic world and Mina is no exception. A good writer will focus on Constantine’s magical leanings, some will ruminate on his binge drinking and smoking, while others still play up his gifts as a con artist and a Great Deceiver. If you only know Constantine from the motion picture, then you don’t know Constantine. At the heart of every great ghost story is a feeling of grief, dread and loss so overpowering that it smothers the reader. Mina knows this and writes it better than anything Stephen King has written in the last twenty years. And I’m no magician, but I know that spells always leave a dark mark on the caster. These two truisms fuel the story, which is gripping, powerful and magnificent. It centers around the hero being lured to Scotland to uncover a elite cult bent on building a structure that infects every living soul on Earth with an empathy that makes the world a better place, effectively destroying a third realm of pain between heaven and hell.

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