Wednesday, February 13, 2008

John Buscema

Just stumbled across a website devoted to the artwork of John Buscema (1927-2002). He is one of my favourite comic book artists and is genereally regarded as one of the greatest of all time. Buscema combined the dynamism of Jack Kirby with lovingly rendered anatomy. This led to him being referred to as a comic book Michelangelo.

Buscema worked on superheroes (which he loathed) as well as romance comics and olde worlde adventure strips full of knights and wizards. But one of his favourite assignments was working on the Conan comics where he did some of his best work.

There's some great examples of his work on the site including paintings and sketches Buscema did for fun which reveal another dimension to his artwork.

And just for Simon here's some of Buscema's breakdowns for The Punisher.

Also just found a video of Buscema drawing Captain America. I've got this video as an extra on a DVD about superheroes and I love to watch it, gazing in awe as Buscema's pencil glides over the paper. Unfortunately Buscema died not long after the DVD was made. Although I never met him I was saddened to hear of his passing. The man was a true comic book master.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

More Moore

Just stumbled across a press release for The Moon and Serpent Bumper Book of Magic. It goes into much more detail than my previous post on this mystical tome.

The book sounds crazy as hell but I'm looking forward to it. (Of course now it'll turn out to be hideously expensive and I won't be able to afford it.)

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Lost Girls

To continue the Alan Moore theme of my previous post here's a review I did for a public interview he did back in 2006. The review originally appared in Machenalia, the newsletter for the Friends of Arthur Machen.


The girls were indeed lost. Or at least incredibly late.

Due to copyright complications Dorothy, Alice and Wendy – the heroines of Lost Girls – will be unable to regale the great British public for some time yet. “So,” chuckled Stewart Lee as he settled down to interview writer Alan Moore and artist Melinda Gebbie, “we’re going to spend the next hour and a half discussing a book that won’t be published until 2008.” No one minded in the least.

The interview got underway with comedian Lee serving up witty, intelligent questions. Perhaps the most pertinent of which was how the idea of a pornographic graphic novel featuring Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, Wendy from Peter Pan and Alice from Alice in Wonderland first came about. Moore replied that sex had been creeping into his stories as far back as Swamp Thing and he had wondered if maybe, just maybe, he could write about sex without using swamp monsters. Gebbie added that when they had first been kicking around ideas she mentioned that she had previously had great success writing about trios of women. The idea of utilising Dorothy, Alice and Wendy soon followed.

Moore and Gebbie also discussed the visual motifs for the three heroines – silver shoes, shadows and a looking glass. And the many pastiches of 19th century pornographic art and literature they used throughout the book, including not only homages to that most prolific of creators Anonymous but also artists such as Alphonse Mucha whose work might not be seen as pornographic but which still carried an erotic charge. Moore also put forth a theory that war is a symptom of sexuality gone awry, explaining why the first rumblings of WWI serve as a backdrop to the book’s sexual shenanigans.

Lee suggested that the lesbian scenes were infused with tenderness whilst the scenes of male homosexuality were played for uneasy laughs. Moore responded that this was because Dorothy’s husband was so unbearably uptight that he remained a parody of British reserve even at the moment of orgasm. “And the fact that he looks like Sean Connery,” said Lee, “was that an act of revenge for the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen film?” “No, not at all,” said Moore. “Speak for yourself,” giggled Gebbie.

During the course of the interview illustrations from the book were projected onto the wall at the back of the stage. Gebbie had great fun persuading the onstage computer to show the slides in the correct order. When the correct images finally appeared Gebbie pointed out the different colour schemes she had created for the individual heroines – Dorothy for example was shaded with earthy colours to represent her midwestern farmland roots. Gebbie also lamented Moore’s request for certain pictures to be repeated over and over again. Moore apologised, saying that he thought she would simply Xerox the pictures rather than painstakingly recreating each one by hand!

Given that Lost Girls is a self-proclaimed piece of pornography several of the slides were of a sexual nature such as Wendy snuggling up with the Lost Boys or Alice fornicating with the cowardly lion. Stewart Lee moved over these quickly as the audience issued schoolboy sniggers. “I’m only skipping over these because we’re short of time,” protested Lee. “I’m not scared of them.”

After the interview there followed a Q&A session with the audience. How did Moore think Carroll, Barrie and Baum would respond to his handling of their characters? Did Moore and Gebbie view Lost Girls as feminist pornography? Was the book influenced by the texts used to school Indian princes in the art of lovemaking?

With the Q&A over the signing commenced. The queue seemed to stretch halfway across London with fanboys clutching copies of Watchmen, V for Vendetta and Snakes and Ladders. Moore and Gebbie chatted cheerfully with everyone. Even people like myself who initially stood frozen in dumbstruck awe before overcompensating by erupting into a torrent of babbling gibberish. I eventually pulled myself together enough to ask Machen aficionado Moore if he was aware of FOAM. He replied that he was in fact a member. That seemed a pretty good way to end the evening.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Dumb Luck

Okay, so yesterday I'm meeting a friend up London and I happen to pop into GOSH Comics on the way.

Scooping up a copy of Alan Moore's The Black Dossier I head down to the basement to check out their back issues. To my annoyance I find the staff milling around, unloading boxes of stock right next to the comics I want to peruse. Silently cursing I squeeze past them and start rifling through the comics. At that moment someone speaks somewhere off to my left in tones which sound familar but which I can't quite place. Glancing in his direction I do a double-take.

It's Alan Moore.

I can't believe it. One of my favourite writers in the whole world is in the same room as me, is less than a metre away, sitting at a table with Melinda Gebbie, both of them signing copies of Lost Girls.

Stunned, I turn to the member of staff standing beside me. "Is there a signing today?"

"The signing was yesterday. Today they're just signing stock."


But wait. There's still a chance. Maybe if I catch him at the right moment Mr Moore will deign to sign my book even though I had arrived a day too late.

Okay, first go back upstairs and buy the book. The storeowners won't be too happy if I get Moore to put a personal inscription in a book I haven't actually bought. On the other hand his autograph might actually increase the price of the book when I finally do go to pay for it. ("Black Dossier? That'll be £250 please." "That's not what it says on the sticker." "That was before it was signed." "But it's signed to me." "I'm sure we can find other customers called Stuart if we wait long enough.")

So, now the proud owner of a copy of The Black Dossier I rush back down to the basement and nervously ask Mr Moore if he would mind taking a break from signing the vast stacks of books surrounding him and sign my book instead. He generously agrees to do so and we chat briefly and he laughs at one of my jokes. (The laugh is probably more from pity than anything else but I'll take what I can get.)

Then I head off to meet my friend and fellow comics fan to see just how green he turns when I tell him of my good fortune.