Sunday, October 25, 2009


I sat down to start Asterios Polyp with the intention of reading a few pages then going to bed. Here is what I tweeted half an hour later, "planned on going to sleep 30 minutes ago but Asterios Polyp was too amazing to put down. What a beautiful book and story. Just Wow." Asterios Polyp is reminiscent of many other stories but what makes it different is the way that David Mazzucchelli tells it. Every character has their own word balloon, font and color scheme. They have distinct voices. The narrator is Polyp's unborn identical twin, Ignazio. These are just some of the things that makes the typical "Arrogant Old Man reflects back on his life and realizes he needs to change" story different.

The first sequence of the story begins with no dialogue, only background noises. The color scheme before the lightening is purple, white, and blue. Mazzucchelli is showing us important items that will reoccur in the story as it unfolds - the tapes, Polyp's father's lighter, Hana's curved table, and the kitchen. When the lightening hits we lose the blue in the palette and for the rest of the sequence it's purple, white, and yellow. The yellow gradually takes over as the main color as the fire burns up Polyp's apartment. We are introduced to more important items: Polyp's watch and the Swiss Army knife Hana finds on the beach. We then see all of the spaces we were just introduced to burn in the fire until they are nothing but yellow. The past is being burnt away.

We are then given some basic information about Asterios in a lecture 101 freshman class style voice. And we are introduced to our unique narrator. The idea of having the story told by the unborn brother is genius. He is shadowing his brother's life but he is not alive and can be separate from the story as well. Subjective and objective at the same time.

One of the things that struck me is how each section begins with a picture of an item that will be essential to that section, like a promo for next week's episode. A lot of the narrative sections reminded me of Scott McCloud's "Understanding Comics." The narrator uses images to explain ideas or concepts about Polyp in the same way McCloud does for writing and reading comics.

Color Scheme is extremely important. Pink represents women, not only in a sexual light but also when they become something Polyp cannot understand. When Hana and Asterios have one of their biggest fights the reader is hit emotionally because she turns the color pink. Also the drawing style changes. Besides having different word balloons, Mazzuchelli showed a visual difference in Polyp and Hana's makeups by drawing Hana as curved, scratchy, lines with shading while Polyp is made of geometric shapes. Hana's background story is told almost entirely in pink. To show when their worlds were connected, that they felt connected to each other, Mazzuchelli uses both styles of drawing together and both colors.

One of my favorite scenes of the book is when Asterios blacks out after losing his eye and he has a scene with Ignazio. Over the course of the conversation their word balloons, that are different at first (Polyp's are square and Ignazio's are cloud-like) begin to become one until they are both like Polyp's. It is the moment when he realizes they are the same. Mazzuchelli uses his art not only to create an image but emotion and symbolism. Even the inside covers have meanings. Blue for Polyp for the front inside cover and pink for Hana on the back inside covers.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


I went into this documentary expecting something similar to the Eisner documentary we watched last semester. And although this documentary is powerful and interesting, I think Robert Crumb's role in comics is lost behind the story of him and his family. The first part of the documentary seemed to focus more on Crumb's incredible art style. Some of my favorite parts of the film were just watching Crumb draw people on the street. His ability to create satire as he is watching it is no less than genius.
Once we started diving into his issues with women and some of the comics he created as a result for this, I became more distracted by the ideas on the page than actually viewing them as comics. In a way, I guess it shows that comics can be a medium not only for traditional storytelling and political beliefs but also a therapeutic outlet. Still, in the end I felt this documentary was more about that person and his family than his work. In that way I enjoyed the Eisner documentary more. But as a study of a comic book artist/ writer, Crumb takes the cake.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Planetary is exciting, funny and full of mystery. I thought the set up of the story was like a TV show in that each smaller story was episode but that they are all interconnected. Like Mr. Snow, we are thrown into Planetary's world with not much information but we quickly get caught up in it and want to know where all of this is leading. Like Dr. Brass says on page 22 of Chapter 5, "You want to know everything at once, five seconds after taking your first look at it." And the fact that Planetary gives you just enough to bite into and be hooked makes it genius.

The characters are also interesting, unique, and shrouded in their own questions. All of them seem to be morally ambiguous in subtle ways. There seems to be many untapped layers of each character. Ellis gives you just enough to get a small sense of who Mr. Snow, Jakita, Dr. Brass, and the Drummer are but nothing really substantial, which makes you feel like you are apart of the group. Working with these people, knowing some of their abilities, but not who they really are. My instincts tell me there is much more to Dr. Brass and his story. Not all of the pieces fit. His story was probably my favorite mostly because I like the idea of the snowflake and a group of men in a cave trying to save the world during WWII.

Cassaday's art is flawless. It's sharp, clear and full of emotion. The moments betweent the characters without dialogue work because he is able to convey these emotions through small details and pacing (For example, the third panel of the last page of chapter 40.

All in all, this is a fantastic first issue filled with great ideas, mystery, and characters. I look forward to reading volume two soon!