Friday, July 21, 2006

It’s the end of the world how I like it

I was going to do a compare and contrast of Grant Morrison works yesterday, but it obviously didn’t work out. It seems that the entire country decided to call me during my lunch hour, which I unfortunately took at my desk.

Regardless of my inability to concentrate on two things at once I did want to mention just how much I enjoyed Vimanarama. If Morrison brings this sort of recompressed approach to his work in Batman I, for one, will be a happy happy Batfan. I liked this story much more than WE3, although in quite a few ways they have a lot in common. Not so much content as form and style of story telling.

This too is a story that I thought would be longer, not that I’m complaining about its length. I just had it envisioned as a twelve part comic instead of what it was. This doesn’t make it worse just faster to read. I do think that the recompression technique used here works a bit better but the plot sort of feels like it was a TV movie edited for length. But a few jumpy transitions isn’t necessarily a bad thing. A lot of decompressed stories suffer for their penchant for going into mind numbing detail to explain why someone is doing something or where they came from and their motivation.

All motivation and characterization is here presented through the interaction of characters – as it should be in my book. The main “hero” is the hapless Ali, who is about to meet the woman his father arranged for him to marry, Sofia. He feels trapped by his family and is sort of the stock “young artist who gives his father grief unlike his more conservative brother.” He only wants to form his own destiny and feels that if it isn’t god’s doing, it’s probably his father who hates him and won’t leave him alone. Heck, he can’t even go to the afterlife without his father and brother interrupting and passing judgment on how he’s trying to accomplish anything. As I read this book a lot of the comedy reminded me of movies like East is East or Bend it Like Beckham dealing with “ethnic” England.

I felt a bit homesick for London reading this. The art manages to capture the essence of the location as much as any film could. The characters are generally sympathetic and hilarious in the way only the “English” can be. And the surreal aspects aren’t trying to be all trippy or dark but rely on an extremely bright and awesome colour pallet. The extra bright yellows, pinks, greens and whites reflect the ideas that these mystical interactions are brighter than reality as they should be. While sort of blinding these light bringing moments remind the reader that the supernatural is meant to be inspiring or pure ideas. They exist as pure light or pure colour while our world reflects those ideal forms. Same goes for the evil parts. They are darker than our version of darkness and revel in the fact that we’ve managed to make our own planet a dark, unbreatheable, artificially created mess that strives for the ideal forms of darkness.

I guess in a lot of ways the story is merging the frantic storytelling action of Silver Age comics and Bollywood movies. There’s a great two page spread of Ali on his bike with women breaking into dance behind him. The mystically high-tech underground city/prison looks like an old Indian city. There’s Buddha bubble men and an unspeaking guy who looks like a Russian doll piled upon himself and doesn’t speak.

It’s fun. It’s bright shiny, glad I read it fun. It’s kind of hard to examine something that you thoroughly enjoyed.

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