From “A Halo of Flies,” The Saga of the Swamp Thing #30, November 1984. Art by Stephen Bissette with guest inks by Alfredo Alcala; coloring by Tatjana Wood.
I’m still really enjoying my re-read of Alan Moore’s run on Swamp Thing. There’s a cinematic quality to the work, evident in its (often-reserved) pacing, its attention to basic concepts like time and place (it’s astounding frankly how many “superhero” comics pay zero attention to basics like scale or the relationships between physical objects), and its framing of panels. I love how the single-page “Swamp Thing” illustration shows up near the end of this particular issue—like a long cold opening in a film or TV show.
Pages from issues 23, 24, and 25 of The Saga of the Swamp Thing, 1984. Art by Stephen Bissette and John Totleben; coloring by Tatjana Wood. Script by Alan Moore.
I’ve been rereading Moore’s run on Swamp Thing and am amazed anew at the comic’s cinematic construction, moody tone, and mix of simplicity and depth in storytelling. Wood’s moody, atmospheric coloring is unlike anything I can think of in contemporary 1980’s “superhero” comics, and Swamp Thing’s detailed contours seem impossible without Totleben’s intricate inking. I plan to write a “thing” on Moore’s Swamp Thing era down the line, but for now, I’m surprised at now just how well it holds up, but how well-constructed the team’s efforts were, right out of the gate on the early issues.
From “Swamped,” The Saga of the Swamp Thing #22, March, 1984. Art by Stephen Bissette and John Totleben; coloring by Tatjana Wood. Script by Alan Moore.
I occasionally dabble in a little hating, but for the most part I try to keep this blog on the positivity tip, yo. I mean, what’s the point in just grumbling, right? Anyway, I now present some stuff that I’ve been hating on lately, along with some possible solutions.
Hating on: The whole Don Imus controversy. Sure, Imus’s comments were rude, asinine, and perhaps racist. But he’s a morning schlock jock who has traded on such speech in the past. What’s the big deal? How is this any different from the vitriol Rush Limbaugh or Bill O’Reilly spew on a daily basis? It seems like we’re heading to a place in American media where people have to apologize and beg forgiveness for every rude or insensitive thing they say. Part of a functioning, healthy democracy is having people publicly say things that you think are awful or disagree with…and having the right to publicly disagree with them. I’m sick of this whole “tour of forgiveness”/rehabilitation culture. It’s OK to be an asshole sometimes. Just let it ride.
Antidote: Indulge in a random act of insensitivity. Tell that special someone how much they irk you, or arbitrarily curse a stranger. Freedom ain’t free–you’ve gotta fight for it! It’s the American way.
Hating on: Bill Willingham’s much lauded comic series Fables. I finally picked up a few of the Fables graphic novels at the library a few weeks ago. These comics are best suited for lining a ferret’s cage. Fables has won plenty of undeserved praise from both the comics and mainstream press. Allusions can enrich a story, but Willingham overtly rips off the plots of numerous books and stories and then seems to say: “See? Get it? I’m referencing X, get it? Clever, huh?” No, it isn’t, but neither was Vertigo’s other big critical hit, The Sandman, a series that is often held up as the pinnacle of the art form. My major concern is that people will read the reviews and honestly believe that this crap is the cream of the crop, when in reality there are thousands of better comics out there.
Antidote: For a major-label all-color comic that trips off of fabulous/mythic tropes in a far more rewarding way, check out Alan Moore’s legendary early 80s run on Swamp Thing. Or just go hardcore indie black-and-white with Charles Burns’s Black Hole.
Hating on: Drivers. You can’t drive. Get off the road! Seriously, you’re a terrible driver, and that F-350 doesn’t make up for your tiny genitals. Tailgating will not make the traffic in front of me disappear, and racing to every red light will not win you a giant cup (or whatever shiny prize it is they give away at NASCAR).
Antidote: Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA. This is the best beer I’ve ever had. (Note: Biblioklept does not endorse drinking while driving, except on rare and special occasions, such as weddings and weekends).
Hating on: Hip-hop in ’07. Wow. This is really bad. 50 Cent has his own line of bottled water? Ice Cube is doing this shit? Mims new song– “This is why I’m hot…I’m hot cause I’m fly” WTF! That’s basically a tautology, dude. (By the way Mims, you have the same nickname as my friend’s grandma).
Antidote: Journey’s Greatest Hits.
Hating on: “Definately”
Antidote: There is no “a” in the word, my friends. Spell it with me: D-E-F-I-N-I-T-E-L-Y, definitely. That is absolutely, positively, most assuredly the definite spelling of “definitely.” Again, please remember: “no a.”
Hating on: Pitchfork. Okay, I admit it, I go to Pitchfork just about every day, just as I have for years and years now. And I hate it: I hate their awful reviews, their lack of editorial sensibility, their penchant for applauding the most maudlin crap, and their constant attempts to rewrite music history.
Hating on: Undergrads. Jesus Christ kids, you’ve got to show up to class–even when it rains or is cold outside! And, when you do come to class, you need to have done the assigned reading. Also, no one cares about what your friend’s cousin heard on the radio or what your brother’s girlfriend read on the internet–if you must present an opinion, try to keep it rooted in the reading (again, you need to have done the assigned reading). Furthermore, you can text-message after class. Quit wasting your parents money.
Antidote: Trade school.
Hating on: The New Testament. Okay, “hate” is a little extreme. But seriously, I just can’t get into this. JC is kinda cool, but on the whole, this book is awfully preachy.
Antidote: The Old Testament. Now this I get. Yaweh is one bad mama-jama. He’s not fooling around. If you mess with Yaweh, he will wipe-you-out. No joke. He flooded the whole world! Total destruction! Also, he totally messed with this dude Job just to prove a point to Satan. And he kicked Adam and Eve out of his garden for forever, and they had to toil and sweat. And he turned Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt–salt!–just for looking back at a city full of sodomites. And he sent mad plagues on the Egyptians. Word to God, kid!
Hating on: The Jacksonville Jazz Festival. Come on, you don’t really like jazz, do you? And how do you make jazz worse? How about sitting in the park with thousands of other unwashed “jazz fans”? But who am I to hate on the luminous talents of Al Jarreau and Chuck Mangione…
Antidote: Sitting alone in the dark blissing out to Alice Coltrane and Pharaoh Sanders.