Friday, June 26, 2009

The new issue of Jordan Crane's comic book, Uptight 3, is not very good. One story, the first part of a serial called "Vicissitude," works out a new art style that stands as a development from stories in the last Uptight. In it, Crane's printer's training gets worked into black and white, with greytones. It looks really well-designed, and there's a break from the standard grid pacing I've seen in all of his comics. But: It's called "Vicissitude." Story-wise, it's in really well-travelled territory, about people in their twenties, committing infidelities. It's the sort of thing that would be embraced by a "graphic novel" audience, theoretically, upon completion, if it went anywhere. There's no guarantees it's going to go anywhere. And I really don't understand why this is the sort of comic you would serialize. There's no real intrigue to get a reader to read a future installment. Really, none, besides seeing Crane work in this style more. Granted, the style looks great- I will single out the panels featuring sex scenes and raccoons, but this is pretty dull stuff. I guess it's sort of standard for alternative comics of this type to serialize stories like this one, but maybe that's why the format is dead.

The comic also reads really fast, partly because of the punctuation-less dialogue. It works in Ben Jones comics, (including Cold Heat) and Achewood, because it's kind of inherently funny, but I think it speeds up the pacing: Like the panel is only the length of someone saying something, caught between breaths, and doesn't include the pause that follows a period. The only thing to slow you down is looking at the design work, but that's going to get you looking at it in the store, or looking back to it after an initial read. Maybe it'll be good when completed, but holy shit do I ever not want a comic called Vicissitude on my shelf.

The second story is for kids! And it's pretty much unreadable. Drawn in this light and feathery style, displaying pretty active detailed backgrounds. It's a sequel to The Clouds Above, but that comic was done in color- And looked gorgeous, with color to determine composition and delineate space. It was also printed at a panel a page, which made the pages not be overworked, as well as slowing down the speed with which it was read. Why is this sequel in a black and white comic? I understand Jordan wanting to do this kind of comic book format, but Eightball had stuff printed in color when it needed to be.

There's no economy for that, so do a comic that works in black and white. Vicissitude, art-wise, works in black and white. Ideally, the whole comic would work like that. But then, if the comic was just Vicissitude, it would be an issue of Optic Nerve, and people hate that comic these days.


laura said...

Your comment about the "graphic novel crowd," of which I am part, got me thinking about the way that comic artists/readers view it, I'm guessing in the negative. I was trying to think of an analogy where "indie rock" was the graphic novel of actual independent music, but that doesn't cut it, so no analogy.
Happy birthday!

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