Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

April 28, 2009

Noel Murray Posts On CR Series List

I'm flattered that Noel Murray of the AV Club took a few moments yesterday to respond to and comment on the CR Sunday Feature on all-time series. What's great about the responses there is that folks seemed to come at the list by suggesting I need to add one thing after another I love and value in comics, from Zot! to Bone to Usagi Yojimbo to daily comic strips. Even if I don't think they should go on that list, I'm very glad those things are valued by those comics readers as much as I value them. My thanks to Mr. Murray and the thread participants for the pleasure of reading their commentary.

I wanted to mention I'm in general agreement with Murray about what Love & Rockets to read first and how to read Cerebus without necessarily plunging into some of the more controversial aspects of the work right away.

imageIn terms of L&R, starting reading it with later issues has practical applications but also replicates the way a lot of fans first got into the Hernandez Brothers -- by catching up with the series after it had been going a while. Most of the people I know that are huge Love & Rockets fans started reading the book because the Comics Journal made them feel like they should or they responded to some surface aspect of it. Then, at some point during the initial stretch of issues they read, something clicked into place and they became totally obsessed with it. That was true for me, too. I started reading it because I liked Jaime's art in the color comics reprint Mechanics. The story in the magazine that captured my attention for good was "For The Love of Carmen."

imageWhen people talk about ways to explore Cerebus -- I'm a "go with High Society" guy, personally -- I think of a friend of mine who maintains for his own purposes that Cerebus died in issue #150. He bases this in part on simply not caring for what followed but also in that he believed the character had died in that issue back when it was initially serialized and that Sim was going to re-boot the series with a female aardvark in #151. I have no idea why he thought this; maybe Sim had said something about the male/female split in the series and my friend took him literally? I prefer to think he just made it up. I've never asked, and I hope he doesn't e-mail. The funny thing is you can certainly read Cerebus in that truncated way and have it work, although certainly not as the author intended. Cerebus dies after being awakened to something deep within his heart and then rashly committing a violent act in a world set against him sounds like the ending I would have written for the character at a certain age, that's for sure.

In terms of those responding to the list on CR, I think the one I should have considered to greater extent was American Splendor. It didn't even come to mind. This may have been my brain protecting me, because I'm not sure I even know what I think about AS right now. As I get older, I find myself liking Harvey Pekar's comics a lot when he was working with a really good artist, and not liking at all some of the other comics he's done, almost always with less significant artists. I know that one of the two respondents put a later Pekar work on an all-time great comics list; that work failed to make my top 25 for the year it came out. This is worrisome if not outright problematic when it comes to assigning Pekar a place in my personal pantheon. I'm clearly overdue figuring out what I think of the writer, whose place in comics history is assured. I should re-read his works as time becomes available.
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink

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