Monday, July 24, 2006

Words and Images - Flight and Gangland

Just when I was getting down on the semi-corporate blogs, one of them had to go and impress the hell out me with a great post on representing heroes and social paradigm shifts. Greg does a great job here.

And there was a comic thing in San Diego that a lot of other comic based sites covered.

Plus I can't seem to upload images anymore so this site is looking rather text-heavy these days. Nobody seems to be complaining though.


Words and Images

Two of the first books I got from the library were compilations – Flight Vol. 1 and Gangland. I’d heard a lot of good things about Flight and Gangland just sort of caught my eye so I picked it up.

What did I think of them? Both had their strengths and weaknesses but the one I liked the least on first read has stayed with me the longest and I think I appreciate what was attempted a lot more. I’m, of course, talking about Flight. It’s been said many times before on the comiblognet by others better versed in comics than I, that Flight is really a great experiment. The artwork is simply fantastic but the stories are completely hit or miss. Actually, that’s being polite, some are down right boring and a waste of words, but the pictures, images and techniques more than make up for any lack of plot and dialogue.

Flight is primarily about the art and it delivers art in spades. It is a showcase for up and coming artists to present their work to us, the public. In a lot of ways, this volume reminds me of the Ottawa Animation Festival. This festival has pushed and continues to push the limits of what animation is. It’s not a festival of cartoons but of animation and any interpretation thereof. Same goes for Flight. It’s not about presenting a complete story or an action script. There’s some stream of consciousness stuff, some chapters from larger works, a couple of self-contained tales, but also a lot of imagery. It is more the graphic part of graphic storytelling.

Comics needs more collections like this. This is the cutting edge that bleeds out new and old techniques that can be used to tell stories. If nobody is pushing the limits of how to tell a graphic story the medium will dry up and die. However, if you don’t care about the cutting edge this is really not for you. This is for those readers who want to see where comics can go and may be heading. In the future we may see collage comics or ripped paper comics simply because this collection proved it is possible to use those techniques as graphic storytelling. I can’t wait to see the all cookie comic at some point.

Then there was Gangland. I don’t know what to really say about this except it takes a different approach to graphic storytelling than Flight did. It’s not a terrible collection if you like stories about horrible people doing horrible things with horrible images. I don’t mean poorly drawn, just bloody and disgusting as intended.

The stories in this collection were a lot better realized than the ones presented in Flight, however, if your not in the mood for violence the collection is sort of pointless. Still the stories do accommodate a genre and they all tend to function to their own internal logic. Whether or not you agree with that logic is a point of contention but they all have definite beginning, middle and end sequences. In the end these are more about the plot than the images, and while well done on both accounts, this really isn’t a genre defining work. I do, however, wish that more companies would work on this sort of thing because the collections would get better over time as the companies got the hang of it.

These are definitely worthy of a look, but I don’t know about actually buying either. I probably wouldn’t but that’s just me. If I had to choose, I would go for Flight especially if you’re looking for artistic inspiration. However, that being said, like the animation festival where I can only take so much abstract scratch animation to atonal music there’s only so much mundane slice of life that doesn’t really have an depth stories I can stomach. Wait until my next post when I contradict that last statement.

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