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Michael Barnes
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Godtear Beats the Odds - Review

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Scout Board Game Review

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The Split - Review

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July 21, 2022
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Our own Jason Lutes makes Top 50 -

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12 May 2014 13:29 #177920 by DukeofChutney
I'm not that big on Tintin, most probably because although i was aware of it from a young age, i don't think i read much of it till my early 20s. I read a lot of Asterix comics however, which were always shelved with Tintin in the library.


I am not a massive Miller fan, i've read Dark Knight Returns and Ronin. I didn't really dig Dark Knight although it can see why it was so influential. I would agree with JJ's sentiments on art being equal to writing. I am however not totally sold on Miller as an artist. I probably rate Moebius so hightly though more on his art than written work. Another guy i like more for his art is Nihei and his manga works Blame! and Biomega but this is more due to the weird dark sci scapes he creates.

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12 May 2014 14:15 #177922 by Shellhead
Ronin had some interesting ideas, but the artwork was terrible. It turned me against Miller, even though I enjoyed his work The Dark Knight Returns and Daredevil. The Dark Knight Strikes Again was tragically bad, in terms of both writing and artwork, so I just avoid everything by Miller now. I enjoyed the movie Sin City, but I just don't feel motivated to read the comic version.

I still haven't read Maus for the same reason I still haven't seen Schindler's List. I just never seem to be in the right mood for Holocaust-related entertainment. I have heard great things about both works and trust that they are indeed masterpieces, but can't seem to work them into my schedule.

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12 May 2014 14:28 #177923 by Black Barney
The first trick, Shell, is to not open up Maus or fire up Schindler's List expecting entertainment. You won't get that. It's not why you choose to experience these.

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12 May 2014 14:33 #177924 by DukeofChutney
I tend to cover these subjects in themed film nights/ weeks. When i was an undergrad me and my house mate watched both Schindlers List and The Pianist in one night, then Nam movies the next.


Got Maus off the English section of the University library just now, reading the first chapter or two. I'd agree that this is more of a recounting of his fathers story as dictated and edited rather than the authors storytelling ability, but that's not a bad thing.

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12 May 2014 15:05 #177926 by dragonstout

San Il Defanso wrote: All that to say, Maus stands out as one of those watershed moments in my slow introduction to comics. I had always known it was about the Holocaust (and it was indeed a sobering expression of it), but what really grabbed me were the father-son dynamics. Comics are unfairly clumped into the realm of the juvenile, but that was something that I don't think I could have appreciated before I became I was really separate from my own father and before I had my own kids. The art sold it to me too, in that rough unfinished way that keeps emotions at the top.

Just wanted to chime in with San that the thing which gets its hooks in me about Maus is the father-son dynamics, the fact that it's not just his father's story but also Art's story about living with his father's story his whole life, and also the story of what his father became after he returned to "normal life". That last thing is also a big part of most of my favorite war stories...I enjoy reading about how soldiers adjusted back to normal life more than about their experience in the war head-on, typically.

Black Barney is also of course dead-on...there's no such thing as Holocaust "entertainment", nor SHOULD there be.

Also, San, about Usagi Yojimbo: Dark Horse is about to start publishing big-ass 3-in-1 omnibus editions of Usagi, so you'll be able to finally read all those comics that have been out-of-print for years.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Black Barney, san il defanso, trif

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12 May 2014 16:25 #177927 by Legomancer

San Il Defanso wrote: Can I also take a moment to say how much I enjoyed my time in Usagi Yojimbo? I read almost all of my comics from our library, and I had to bail on it when there were several volumes in a row unavailable. I had such a great time with it for six or seven volumes though.


Usagi is possibly the best monthly comic being published. It's a perfect synthesis of art, characters, and storytelling, and the way Sakai can go from a historical action tale to a goofy comedy story to horror, to romance, to nice human (well...animal) moments is incredible. It's an absolute gem of a series.

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12 May 2014 19:00 #177931 by trif

dragonstout wrote:
Also, San, about Usagi Yojimbo: Dark Horse is about to start publishing big-ass 3-in-1 omnibus editions of Usagi, so you'll be able to finally read all those comics that have been out-of-print for years.


Thanks for the heads up. I have some very old issues of Usagi Yojimbo - but US alternative comics were really hard to come by in Australia in the 80s so I didn't pick it up regularly. My writing partner met Sakai at Comic con last year and picked up some of the reprints so I'm glad Dark Horse are going to do omnibuses so I can catch up again.

I saw Spiegelman do his history of comics talks in Melbourne last year. It was packed out - what was surprising was the mix of people, not just comic fans by any means, but I gather a fair amount of the Jewish community were there as well so I would say Maus was important in that respect. It was a great lecture with Spiegelman flipping between pages from his own comics (Maus and Breakdowns) and pages from historical comics, showing the development of graphic narrative. He's a professor so I would assume that takes up most of his time now.

Miller was a good writer once - Ronin was an interesting product to come out of DC at the time, but he changed the story part way through radically and I don't think it holds together now.

This is a great thread and I really appreciate JonJacob articulating his criticisms of Maus, it's resulted in a fascinating discussion.

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12 May 2014 22:08 - 12 May 2014 22:32 #177934 by OldHippy
A lot of good discussion here. I'm impressed. It got me to thinking why Miller fell so far from grace. The guy can't write anymore at all and even though he never was Mark Twain to begin with he really stinks now.

Why is that?

You ever hear the expression: "Less is more". It's a kind of short hand for the idea that virtuosity alone cannot make great art. That talent needs to be in service of the art and showing off does not improve the art work at hand.

Rodney Dangerfield used to write out all his jokes on cue cards and then black out the unnecessary parts in order to tighten up his set. It worked brilliantly and he remains one of the best one liner comics of all time.

Miller used this idea for his art, clearly. When I read the Miller/Eisner discussions he talked in detail about his art style. About how he still draws everything the way he did before and then blacks out certain unnecessary area's. As he got better at this style he was able to do away with the extraneous detail and just draw some of the silhouettes as is.

Sounds good right? It certainly helped him create a unique and very personal art style that serves a purpose.

Unfortunately he did the same thing with his writing. But his writing wasn't strong enough to begin with to deal with it. In Dark Knight, Year One, even Ronin, he writes for characters that he clearly doesn't agree with... using some sympathy and delicacy. He's reaching beyond his grasp (exactly what I talked about a few pages ago). He writes lots of different styles and he tries to show opinions from all factions. The satire is a little thick because he can't muster up enough earnestness to completely pull it off but at least he was trying.

As the pencils got better, his writing got worse. The pencils and inks improved with minimalism and his writing fell under the pressure.

Less is not more, that should be simple, but it's not. More is whatever makes the project better and extreme minimalism does not save all styles.

By the time we got to All Star Batman he couldn't write worth a goddamn(;)) anymore and he had Jim Lee drawing for him. The guy who makes old ladies sexy because all he can draw is sex. There was nothing worth my time anymore. Juvenile drawing (that believed more is more) and juvenile writing (that believed less is more). He had destroyed himself.

I can't remember the name of his last book, the anti-islamic thing that was completely racist and insensitive but it does have some of the best inks I've ever seen in my life and a series of pages about the fall of the twin towers that is possibly the best statement on that event I've ever seen. Certainly the best ever in comics. It was critically panned (deservedly so) but it was stunning to look at it in places.

He doesn't even work with Lynn Varley anymore and good lord does he miss her. Dark Knight Strikes Again may suck but her colours in that work are unlike anything I've ever seen in my life.

Most colour in comics serves little to no purpose. It just fills in things your imagination could have done for you. In DKSA Lynn Varley uses colour totally differently. She pushes your emotions in certain places, she disobeys colour rules and fucks with your interpretation of the pages layout. She is using colour as an artistic expression... no one does this like her - NO ONE. 300 does the same thing but instead of experimenting it's a masters thesis on all she's learned so far. She uses all her old tricks in new and exciting ways. The colours in those two books are among the best I have ever seen. They don't just colour the page, they compliment and add to it in a way that natural and realistic colour never could.

Miller had been with Varley since 1983. Breaking up with her is the dumbest thing he could have done. She was a huge part of his creative output everything they did together is better because of her. DKR, Ronin, 300, DKSA... are all infinitely better because of her genius work.

She deserves way more respect than she gets.

I think Miller needs to layoff the writing and creating. I would love to see someone like Moore take Miller and use him differently. His inks in service of Moore's writing could still be amazing. Moore knows how to take someone's style and put it at the service of a story. It doesn't have to be Moore, he's just an example of someone who knows how to use artists for different idea's and understands their strengths.

From Hell wouldn't work with Jim Lee, Moore knows this, Miller doesn't.
Last edit: 12 May 2014 22:32 by OldHippy.
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13 May 2014 08:02 #177943 by Legomancer
I think to some extent Miller has been a victim of his own success. Back in the 80s he was writing in a way nobody else was, and, coupled with his striking art style, it really punched through the vapidity of a lot of the comics at the time. As a result, everyone wanted to write like him, even if they wanted to draw like Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld, that overdone, jacked-up absurdity.

But you can only read so many comics trying to be DKR before it gets tiresome, and after the umpteenth one, you're done. It's become a parody, and you just roll your eyes at the pompous, grimtoughness of it all. You read stuff like Mark Millar or at times Warren Ellis or Brian K Vaughan and you just roll your eyes at it -- what used to seem so mature now seems really juvenile.

And while Miller himself seems to be still stuck in that same mode, which makes him sound like a parody of himself, there's also the fact that a lot of that 80s stuff just hasn't aged well. Dark Knight Returns is definitely a product of its time, and has been diminished by the amount of material that's been thoroughly drained from that well. (It's also pretty well steeped in Miller's reactionary politics, which did not suddenly sneak up later.) It's hard for his voice to stand out when so many others around him are talking the same way.

Artistically, I agree, that Miller is a dynamo. But he seems to have a single writing trick that served him well at one point and now is well past its sell-date, and it doesn't help adult fans that it's a trick that really appeals to younger and more inexperienced readers.

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