Tag Archives: images

Darth Vader: Issue 1

DarthVader_01

OK, I’ll admit that Darth Vader is one of my all-time favorite villains. As such, how could I not read this comic?

First off, the artwork in this is outstanding. There are parts of this issue where for several pages there are no words and just images driving the storyline, and it works spectacularly. The writing is also very, very good. I find no flaws in the language and the personalities of the various iconic characters are accurately reflected in the dialog.

It is difficult to summarize the comic without giving away too much of the story, but I will try. There are multiple threads to the tale which have their beginnings in this issue. Vader, having failed in his previous mission, is dealing with the wrath of the Emperor. He is then sent to meet with Jabba the Hutt to negotiate on behalf of the Empire. But while meeting with Jabba, Vader says he has some personal business to discuss, which is not revealed. Finally, the Emperor is also meeting with some unknown person, who seems very dark and dangerous.

As you can see, there is a lot going on and this first issue is definitely intended to lay the foundation for what promises to be a complex tale. I for one am looking forward to seeing how this all plays out. I believe issue 2 will be released soon, so expect my review of that in the near future.

Cheers!!

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Wytches: Issue 4

Wytches_04

This comic continues to deliver quality psychological horror. In this issue, as Sailor’s parents continue searching for her, it seems like their grip on sanity is beginning to slip. The creative team does something that works really well. They splice together fragments of storyline to instill a sense of confusion. As I read through this, I felt like Sailor, trapped in a dark space surrounded by macabre images, struggling to get out, but unable to. All the while, unable to shake the feeling of fear and dread.

I feel like I should be writing more about this issue, but frankly, I am at a loss for words. Probably because, for me, the issue is more about creating a sense of fear as opposed to telling a narrative tale, so while the story is progressing, for me, the story is overshadowed by the feeling that the images and structure of the comic evoke. For me, that’s the real artistry in this graphic series.

If you are following this tale, I would love to hear your thoughts.

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Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: Issue #1

Sabrina_01

I have been eager to begin reading this graphic tale ever since I read the Afterlife with Archie comics. It took some effort to acquire this first copy (it seems Sabrina is in high demand), but persistence paid off and I luckily came across a copy last week at a local shop.

As with the Afterlife series, the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is dark, creepy, and reminiscent of horror from the 60s. Stylistically, the creative team draws on writers like Lovecraft, films like “Rosemary’s Baby,” and of course the classic horror comics of the era. All in all, the team has created something fresh and unique while tapping into familiar motifs that have become a part of the darker regions of our society’s collective consciousness.

This first issue traces Sabrina’s early years, from birth to her early teens. Sabrina is a “half-breed,” whose father (Edward Spellman) was a black magician and whose mother (Diana) was human. At age 1, Sabrina is taken from her mother and given to her two aunts to be raised as a witch. Diana resisted and Edward scrambled her memory, then had her committed to a mental institution where she was lobotomized. In a very eerie image, Edward is later depicted as trapped within a tree. It is not revealed why this happened or who was responsible, adding a level of mystery to the tale which works quite nicely.

I think the most impressive aspect of this comic is the wealth of references. The pages are strewn with allusions to occult figures, mythology, literature, and history. I had to look up a couple references with which I was unfamiliar, such as Ed Gein. I discovered that he was a most unsavory character who was a serial killer and body snatcher, exhuming corpses from graveyards and fashioning trophies out of bones and skin. He was supposedly the real-life inspiration for characters such as Norman Bates from Psycho, Leatherface from The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, and Buffalo Bill from The Silence of the Lambs.

The issue leaves off with a very dark cliffhanger, where two foolish teenage girls have summoned a female demon from Gehenna. The imagery associated with this is nightmarish and the implications hinted at suggest that the upcoming installments will be nothing short of terrifying.

The bottom line is, I LOVE this comic and if you are a horror fan I strongly urge you to seek this out and read it. Issue #2 has not yet been released, but I have placed a request for my local comic dealer to hold a copy when it is finally published. One last thing, at the very end of this issue is a short comic strip from the original Sabrina which was published in October 1962. It serves as a nice contrast between the two comics, while at the same time giving a nod to the source of this amazing comic.

As always, feel free to share your thoughts and comments below. Cheers!

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“Hollow City” by Ransom Riggs: Myth and the Subconscious

HollowCity

Hollow City is the second book in Ransom Riggs’ “Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children” series (see my review of the first book: Symbolism in “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” by Ransom Riggs). This novel picks up where the first on left off and follows the adventures of the peculiar children as they race through World War II London in an attempt to save their ymbryne, Miss Peregrine (an ymbryne is a person who can shape-shift into a bird and has the ability to create and maintain time loops). They are hunted by wights and hollows. Wights are amoral beings who seek to exploit peculiars to gain their strengths, while hollows are Lovecraftian creatures who feed on peculiars.

As with the first book, this novel’s greatest strength is the inclusion of abundant photographs. These photos drive the story and augment the mental imagery that the writing evokes. They are all black-and-white photos and could easily be included in a surrealist art exhibit. While I appreciate vivid colors in art and photography, there is something eerily evocative about black-and-white pictures. Maybe it’s the shadowy texture or the dreamlike quality. It’s also very likely that they tap into memories of watching old black-and-white sci-fi and horror films on Saturday mornings as a kid. Regardless, the illustrations in this book work really well for me and I think the story would suffer if it did not have the pictures.

There are two other topics that are explored in this book which I found interesting: myth and the subconscious. They are both subjects that fascinate me and are incorporated into the story in a creative and engaging manner.

“Do you realize what this means?” Millard squealed. He was splashing around, turning in circles, out of breathe with excitement. “It means there’s secret knowledge embedded in the Tales!”

(p. 64)

Great art and literature often seeks to express things that cannot be conveyed through traditional communication, hence the use of symbols and metaphor to express the ineffable. The use of symbolism is also a way to mask ideas that may be dangerous to either the writer or the reader. Hence, our literary history is filled with works that contain knowledge which is not visible on the surface, but requires decoding on the part of the reader. In fact, as one of the characters in the book points out, there are some things that can only be expressed through myth and symbolism.

“Yes,” said Addison. “Some truths are expressed best in the form of myth.”

(p. 98)

The book also explores the subconscious in some creative ways. One part that stood out for me is when Jacob was having a dream, which in and of itself draws on the symbolism associated with Jacob’s dream in the Bible, where he ascends to Heaven and wrestles with God. In this story, Jacob also wrestles in his dream, but with his personal fears. What I found most intriguing, though, was that while Jacob is dreaming, he is talking in his sleep. His words are incomprehensible to his friends, because the language of dreams is all symbol and taps directly into the subconscious. There is no way to adequately express in words the realm of dreams.

I bolted upright, suddenly awake, my mouth dry as paper. Emma was next to me, hands on my shoulders. “Jacob! Thank God—you gave us a scare!”

“I did?”

“You were having a nightmare,” said Millard. He was seated across from us, looking like an empty suit of clothes starched into position. “Talking in your sleep, too.”

“I was?”

Emma dabbed the sweat from my forehead with one of the first-class napkins. (Real cloth!) “You were,” she said. “But it sounded like gobbledygook. I couldn’t understand a word.”

(p. 189)

A shift into the subconscious, or any altered state of consciousness, is often symbolized by a descent into a dark place. In this book, the characters descend into a crypt using a ladder, which again ties in to the biblical myth of Jacob. This entry into a dark and subterranean space represents a shift to the shadowy realm of one’s consciousness.

The ladder descended into a tunnel. The tunnel dead-ended to one side, and in the other direction disappeared into blackness. The air was cold and suffused with a strange odor, like clothes left to rot in a flooded basement. The rough stone walls beaded and dripped with moisture of mysterious origin.

(p. 240)

Overall, I liked this book a lot. It was exciting, fun, and it also contains “secret knowledge” that one can discover if one reads carefully. I look forward to the third book. Hopefully I won’t have to wait too long.

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“To Autumn” by William Blake

Source: Wikipedia

Source: Wikipedia

Today is the fall equinox, so I thought this would be an appropriate poem.

O Autumn, laden with fruit, and stainèd
With the blood of the grape, pass not, but sit
Beneath my shady roof; there thou may’st rest,
And tune thy jolly voice to my fresh pipe,
And all the daughters of the year shall dance!
Sing now the lusty song of fruits and flowers.

`The narrow bud opens her beauties to
The sun, and love runs in her thrilling veins;
Blossoms hang round the brows of Morning, and
Flourish down the bright cheek of modest Eve,
Till clust’ring Summer breaks forth into singing,
And feather’d clouds strew flowers round her head.

`The spirits of the air live on the smells
Of fruit; and Joy, with pinions light, roves round
The gardens, or sits singing in the trees.’
Thus sang the jolly Autumn as he sat;
Then rose, girded himself, and o’er the bleak
Hills fled from our sight; but left his golden load.

I really love the imagery in this poem. For me, it expresses the bounty of the harvest. But even more important, it hints at the promise of future growth. Within the harvest are the seeds for future crops. As Autumn flies over the bleak hills to make way for Winter, he leaves behind “his golden load”: an abundance of food, seeds for the Spring, and a feeling of joyous celebration.

May this fall season fill your life with happiness and abundance!!

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“The Sandman: Overture – 1” by Neil Gaiman

SandmanOverture_01

The other day I visited the local comic store and discovered the first three issues of Neil Gaiman’s latest Sandman series. I nearly swooned with excitement. I have to say that Gaiman is one of my favorite writers. I have loved everything that I have read by him. I immediately picked up the three issues and my friend at the checkout informed me that it is a short series with only three more issues due out. I plan on reading them all.

The writing and artwork in this first issue is other-worldly. It is like stepping into the surreal realm of dreams, where everything is alien and yet feels familiar, as if tapping into some primordial part of the psyche. As I read the pages and allowed the images to draw me in, I felt like I was slipping into a world of non-ordinary reality.

To briefly sum up the events that transpire, Dream is about to uncreate Corinthian, a bizarre being with sets of teeth instead of eyes who inhabits the subconscious but appears to have taken an interest in inflicting physical harm. I found the character to be very symbolic of using vision to consume images, ultimately digesting what we see around us and what we envision in our subconscious minds. But before Dream can uncreate Corinthian, he is summoned to another dimension at the far side of the universe, where he encounters a most unusual host. Corinthian, meanwhile, escapes with the intention of inflicting harm and then running from Dream to avoid his uncreation.

There is an amazing section where Destiny is depicted holding a large book that contains the secrets to all existence: past, present, and future. The text that accompanies the lush illustration is as evocative as the image itself.

Imagine a book.

Imagine a book that contains everything that is happening, everything that has happened, everything that will happen. There is nothing that exists that is not written in this book.

The book is heavy. It is bound in leather, made from the hide of a beast that has never existed.

The only eyes that read the book are blind. They see only darkness and the contents of the book.

The book is the universe, and only blind Destiny sees how the universe shapes itself into stories. Perhaps he is the only one who reads all the stories the universe forms.

I love the idea of stories shaping our reality. Stories connect us to the past, define our present, and allow us to glimpse our possible futures. The story is eternal and it is the foundation of our existence.

I am really, really excited about this series. As I said earlier, I already have issues 2 and 3, so you can expect my thoughts on those soon. Thanks for stopping by and allowing me to share my thoughts. Read on!!

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“The Reverie of Poor Susan” by William Wordsworth

Wordsworth

At the corner of Wood Street, when daylight appears,
Hangs a Thrush that sings loud, it has sung for three years:
Poor Susan has passed by the spot, and has heard
In the silence of morning the song of the Bird.

‘Tis a note of enchantment; what ails her? She sees
A mountain ascending, a vision of trees;
Bright volumes of vapour through Lothbury glide,
And a river flows on through the vale of Cheapside.

Green pastures she views in the midst of the dale,
Down which she so often has tripped with her pail;
And a single small cottage, a nest like a dove’s,
The one only dwelling on earth that she loves.

She looks, and her heart is in heaven: but they fade,
The mist and the river, the hill and the shade:
The stream will not flow, and the hill will not rise,
And the colours have all passed away from her eyes!

I love this poem. It embodies the classic romantic ideal of how living in the country, in harmony with nature, is infinitely preferable to living in the dregs of a city. For me, I am fortunate that I live in a small city nestled in the mountains. I can travel ten minutes from my house and I am walking along gorgeous mountain trails, past streams and waterfalls. I also have the culture of the city, where I can go and attend a concert or visit an art gallery. I have the best of both worlds. But during Wordsworth’s time, most people were not that fortunate. If I had to choose, I would choose to live in the country.

In this poem, Susan has left her home in the country and moved to the city. She appears miserable and is likely homeless. Amid the squalor of the city, she sees a bird and hears its morning song. The sound of the bird chirping stirs her memory and evokes images of her pastoral life. She recalls Nature’s beauty which surrounded her, and most importantly, she experiences the same feelings of happiness and contentment which she felt back then. It is almost like she is temporarily transported to another place which now only exists in her psyche.

Unfortunately, the bliss is momentary. Soon reality assaults her and strips the beauty from her inner vision, and she is left standing alone on a desolate street corner. This shift back to stark reality is reflected in her eyes, which are the proverbial window to the soul. No more do they shine with the colors of Nature; instead, they are filled with the dull gray that is the city.

As I finish writing this, I am listening to the sound of birds drifting in through my open window. I see the lush green outside that surrounds my home. I think back to when I lived in a big city and how unhappy I was. I am very grateful that I live in close proximity to Nature and its beauty. My soul is that of a romantic. While I love visiting big cities, I could never be happy living there and not getting my regular fix of Nature’s beauty.

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