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Subject: HARD READS2: Successes and failures rss

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So we had a thread about hard reads, book reads, and whether or not they paid off.

And it had me thinking- I enjoy literature, even when it's being post-modern (if it's done well- see: If on a Winter's Night a Traveler).

But I totally love comic books too, and some of them are very much literature.

Moore and Morrison, to name two, write incredibly odd pieces of literature, and some that are, to a point, inaccessible or perhaps a bit more obfuscation than your average JLA or Avengers comic- That's not to say they're Pynchon, but, you know, relatively speaking.

So- here are some of my "Hard reads"-at least comic-book wise.

Success:
SeaGuy- Pure brilliance. Italo Calvino on psychedelics.

7 soldiers- Ah, a meditation on predestination. Also a funky fun ride.

Watchmen & V- It seems a bit of a cheat to put them on the "hard read" list but come on. There's a lot more there than just "I did it twenty minutes ago" badassery. Watchmen is about as meta as you get, with the tales of the black freighter malarky.

Failure:
Gaiman's Run on MiracleMan- Boooooo! It does seem odd that you'd go that way after Moore's incredible bout of ultraviolence. Not only that, it also wasn't any good.

Invisibles- Self-indulgent, meandering, the reader (me) didn't come away with any message other than "Oh, a conspiracy".

The league of extraordinary gentlemen- anything past volume two. Maybe I just didn't live in the U.K. in the 60's?

Promethea- I get it, you like old dudes doing young chicks. Anyway, wrapping up a bad cut of beef in beautiful puff pastry doesn't hide the fact that it is a bad cut of beef (plot). Puff Pastry = tons of ridiculously beautiful imagery, like a fieldtrip into semiotics.

Just ok:
Animal man- Am I missing something? It seems like a waffling stab at what Seaguy would later pinpoint.


I'm trying to remember crazy wacky indie comics, but all my brain recalls are walls of text. Maybe y'all can help me out there.
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Calavera Despierta
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Success:
Meanwhile
Transmetropolitan
Black Hole
X'd Out
Habibi
Filth
From Hell
Seaguy
Ghost World
Concrete
Persepolis

Failure:
Invisibles (only cause it was just trying too hard...)
Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid On Earth (a total failure)
Building Stories

Haven't gotten around to:
Asterios Polyp
We3
Superman: Red Son

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Erik D
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Successes:

Lost Girls: Yup, Alan Moore's porn, but when you look deeper into the literal bumfuckery, he really has something to say. "Fiction and fact: only madmen and magistrates cannot discriminate between them." (Of course, the character saying this is currently screwing a 13-year-old girl in an orgy.)

Pax Romana: Soldiers go back in time and revolutionize religion in the days of Constantine. Presentation unlike any other (except one, see below).


Failures:

From Hell: I found this painfully dull. Frankly, I'm amazed I made it halfway through before giving up.

Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth: Maybe this was overhyped, but it came across to me as a bunch of half baked ideas and cliches.

The Nightly News: Same guy who made Pax Romana. The Nightly News has a fantastic style never seen before, but the ending is so bad it ruins the comic on the whole. He did a much better job with Pax Romana.
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MScrivner wrote:

Transmetropolitan

Haven't gotten around to:
Asterios Polyp
We3
Superman: Red Son



Transmetropolitan! I totally forgot but yes. What're we calling it- Cyberbeat? William S. Burrobot?

And we3 and superman red son aren't particularly tough reads as comics go, but if you haven't gotten around to them, you're missing out. Both for totally different reasons, but both are excellent.

(P.S. Red Son Supes is my 2nd fave Supes)
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hanibalicious wrote:
Gaiman's Run on MiracleMan- Boooooo!

I'll admit that Gaiman's run was less interesting than what Moore did, but I think Gaiman was pretty clear that he felt like Moore had already said all that needed to be said about him as a human as a god, and took his run into the god-as-man territory. When you look at the entire series, it's a nice ending to what Moore started, but by itself, it is a little dull.

erak wrote:
Lost Girls: Yup, Alan Moore's porn, but when you look deeper into the literal bumfuckery, he really has something to say.

I agree with your summation, but I'll also say that the porn got in the way of the examination, and frankly wound up being dull by the time I got to the end of the story. But the deconstruction of Alice, Wendy, and Dorothy was brilliant.

erak wrote:
From Hell: I found this painfully dull.

I loved this one, but it was a struggle until I got to the point where the conspiracy theory was revealed. It seems like I read up to the start of that point, put it down for a month or two, and then came back and blazed through the rest of it.

erak wrote:
Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth: Maybe this was overhyped, but it came across to me as a bunch of half baked ideas and cliches.

I liked the story of this one, but got too distracted by the artwork to really get into it. I read the 20th anniversary edition, which included the original script, and that was a huge help. There was a little too much form overwhelming the function.

I really dig The Unwritten. It's not a terribly difficult read, but it helps to have a good background in literature to get all of the different references. Most of them are big enough not to miss (Moby Dick and Rudyard Kipling), but the more you know, the more you get out of it. The story is about the power of story, and it does some things I've not seen in comics before.

American Born Chinese might be one of the best books I've ever read. It has a distinctive way of telling the story, while also saying something important. In fact, I like it (and Gene Luen Yang; even a simple story like Level Up has a sense of importance to it) so much that I'm surprised I haven't picked up a copy to own yet.

I heard a lot of good things about Y: The Last Man, but I found it to be overly sexist and uninteresting. It really does have a good premise, and could have been something really significant and interesting, but it would up being a bunch of cliches thrown together into a rough approximation of a story.
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Verkisto wrote:

American Born Chinese might be one of the best books I've ever read. It has a distinctive way of telling the story, while also saying something important. In fact, I like it (and Gene Luen Yang; even a simple story like Level Up has a sense of importance to it) so much that I'm surprised I haven't picked up a copy to own yet.


Love this book and Level Up. I was lucky enough to see him at a small convention, very personable. Have you heard of his newest two, Boxers & Saints? Really want to read these.
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mister lunch wrote:
Have you heard of his newest two, Boxers & Saints? Really want to read these.

I just read them both last night. It's a great introduction to the Boxer Rebellion, looking at it through the eyes of two fictional characters on the opposing sides. And it's vital to read both of them to get the full picture, enough so that I don't understand why the publisher is bothering to sell them separately at all.
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