...in the direction of that darling boy Amit Varma, who in his bountiful munificence has presented me with two DVDs packed with the full content of graphic novels such as Warren Ellis’s Transmetropolitan, Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Craig Thompson’s Blankets and Bill Willingham’s Fables, plus Sin City, Sandman and much else.
I can’t read for long stretches on the computer and the tactile experience of reading a book in its original form is very important to me – so I still intend to collect the hardcopy versions of these works over time. (Besides, navigating through pages can be difficult on the comp, especially when the files are very large.) But one great advantage of having these comics on DVD, as Amit pointed out, is that you can appreciate the artwork in a way that the hardcopy format simply doesn’t allow you to. Each page, blown up on the computer screen, becomes a treasure to be closely studied and marveled at.
I spent most of last night moving between the 580 pages of one of my very favourite books – no, make that (Ponderousness Alert) one of my very favourite Works of Art: Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell’s magnificent From Hell, set in Victorian London at the time of the Jack the Ripper murders. I’m a big fan of Moore’s writing, and more to the point his conceptualizing and putting together of seemingly unrelated ideas; the Appendix of footnotes in From Hell is a book unto itself and testifies to the depth of his research and imagination. But this is one instance where he’s been overshadowed by his illustrator. Campbell’s atmospheric, sooty black-and-white drawings look stunning on the laptop screen.
Am not going to gush about From Hell here, except to say 1) please, no mention of that Johnny Depp-Heather Graham film of the same name, and 2) if you’re at all interested in the Jack the Ripper case and/or the social climate of late-19th century England and you haven’t heard of this book, you should kill yourself without delay. But here are two links before you do: the Wikipedia entry and this write-up on Salon.com. Enjoy.
Meanwhile, I’m moving on to Moore’s collaboration with Melinda Gebbie, the pornographic Lost Girls, which is one graphic novel that won’t be available in our bookstores anytime soon – though wouldn’t it be lovely if it were and an innocent shop assistant tossed it into the children’s section! Happens all the time with the others...
Earlier posts on graphic novels: Spiegelman’s Maus, Marjane Satrapi’s Embroideries, Moore’s Watchmen, Osamu Tezuka’s Buddha.