The weather might suggest otherwise, but December has arrived and with it the inevitable year’s end lists. Luckily, at Nothing But Comics, we’re quite fond of year’s end lists. Our first group Top Ten will arrive tomorrow, but first I offer up my annual look back at some of the most memorable character from 2016.
All entries are listed alphabetically. For simplicity sake, characters without code names are listed by first name.
To observe that “war is hell” is so commonplace now, it has pretty much passed into the realm of tired cliché. It does not help that its sentiment is often cited equally by doves and hawks, the latter extolling the visceral virtue of combat. Violence is a difficult subject to represent, as even the most seemingly clear-cut anti-violence message can be twisted into something laudatory (as Stanley Kubrick was repulsed to discover with A Clockwork Orange). Indeed, there is a line of thought which states that all war films, regardless of intentions, are ultimately pro-war, as it is impossible to put combat on screen without glamorizing it. (This reviewer would extend such analysis to many supposedly “moralistic” gangster movies). For his new graphic novel Black Dog: The Dreams of Paul Nash, Dave McKean successfully avoids many of these pitfalls. He accomplishes this by almost entirely skipping the battlefield sequences, concentrating instead of the more intimate emotional toll of warfare for the fallen and survivor alike. The result is a moving mediation on the true cost of war.
“I still don’t know what I was waiting for
And my time was running wild . . .”
-David Bowie , “Changes”
In 1982 a young British writer by the name of Alan Moore was tasked with revitalizing the dormant Marvelman property (now known as Miracleman). Over the course of the next several years, Moore would revamp Miracleman for contemporary times, explore the drive for survival and elevate the hero to the status of divinity. Coinciding with his iconic DC work of Swamp Thing, Watchmen and The Killing Joke, Miracleman remains one of Moore’s signature achievements. Moore departed the series on a breathtaking high note, in which Miracleman has become, for all intents and purpose, a god lording over humanity. And unlike Dr. Manhattan’s Enlightenment clockmaker deity, Miracleman had no qualms about employing a heavy hand to guide civilization. Truly, a new age had dawned.
If the Miracleman saga had ended there, it would have been deeply satisfying. Yet, publisher Eclipse preferred to continue the title. Once again, the series was given to an up-and-coming British scribe: Neil Gaiman. Teaming with artist Mark Buckingham, Gaiman began a six issue arc entitled The Golden Age. Despite the daunting task of following in the footsteps of Alan Moore at the height of his powers, Gaiman and Buckingham more than justify the continuation of the series. The Golden Age is a rich, deeply human take on the world. Most importantly it honors what Moore built, while still allowing Gaiman’s own voice to shine.
Creative inspiration is a tricky subject. It flows neither smoothly nor orderly. Ideas can come from anywhere, bounce off associations and take on entirely new shapes before settling into any definitive form. The process never exists in a vacuum; there are always other works which provide kindling for the imagination. In short, it is a fluid, discursive experience. It is also one of the reasons that creators are always well-served by searching for inspiration outside of their comfort zones. As Wesley Craig advised at last year’s New York Comic Con, aspiring artists need to “get their heads out of comics.” The recent one-shot, Prometheus Eternal takes this lesson to heart. A co-production between the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Locust Moon Press, its seed is the museum’s painting Prometheus Bound by Peter Paul Rubens and Frans Snyders. The museum and publisher gathered together a diverse group of comic talent to explore both the specific painting and the myth of Prometheus in general. The result is a fascinating collection of reflections on the creative process and the eternal resonance of ancient myths. Continue reading Prometheus Eternal Illustrates Artistic Inspiration→
Nothing But Comics is about to hit our two year mark and in observance of the sites anniversary, every Tuesday from now until we finish, one of our staff members will list off their favorite series, runs or issues of all time. This week it’s Cosmo Continue reading Tuesday Top Ten: All Time Favorites Cosmo→