Friday, April 20, 2007

Reading list: King City by Brandon Graham

This is the first volume of three by Brandon Graham, who I'm familiar with from Elevator*, a collection of short comics. I was actually pretty excited to pick this one up…which is rare lately. I missed out at first because of long, busy lines, and ended up needing to head into four stores before finding it again weeks later. But the man’s an unabashed fan of comics, and it’s always refreshing to read something where you can tell that through the work itself.

He’s got a lively graffiti-influenced style that gives off its energy without getting cluttered. Graham clearly puts down tries out every idea he comes up with—and not all in this comic, mind you. These are the ideas with legs, one presumes. And like the best outlandish ideas in the better rung of sci-fi out there, being a Catmaster isn’t Joe’s only role and Max is just drug-user (Chalk is great, by the by). Despite the energetic style, what Graham actually excels at seems to be quiet moments...probably not coincidentally the ones readers might relate to, as opposed to how you talk to your weapon cat. Unless you have a weapon cat. “Fun” as a tone seems to come first, but comedy and a little bit of something else comes out too, and without quite the attendant melodrama that tone switches bring in similarly marketed manga.**

I’m not sure the style is suitable for everything (the Cthulu-esque terror looks a bit bouncier than swollen), nothing slumps enough for every mood to be pulled off equally well, if that makes sense. And not all the crazy notions carry equal weight either, the sasquatch really seems to be there to be a sasquatch. So the wonder of it is, will the setting cohere into something more repository of Brandon Graham's ideas? As long as the characters continue to grow inside it, I can wait and see.

* I’d like a Sumo Hero to cameo…
** Still, the fact that manga ever switches moods is more interesting to me right now than a lot of other work.


Jonny America said...

Sounds kind of interesting, though I must admit that the language of your post is more impressionist than concrete.

What's the storyline about?

Also, starting a book review thingy is a decent way to keep the material coming as we collectively seem to be runnning low on ideas (me being the most guilty). I just wish I could finish my books faster. I'm in the middle of Orientalism. Sure I read it in college, and it is somewhat of a show-off book to be reading on the train. But man... Isn't Said supposed to be approachable. I've ground to a halt at about half way through. Mostly because of the content. He tears into 19th century French theorists. You know, that's just too far away from me, and I got the point he's trying to make anyway inside the first 100 pages. I should skim ahead to get to some fresh material, but something inside keeps saying "not yet. He's gonna come up with something good on the next page."

Also, Said takes Foucault as his intellectual forebearer. But Foucault had a very universalist idea of the way power is applied in society. Isn't Said arguing against univeralism?

One more thing is he clearly gets pretty sanctimonious about the European thinkers who "reject" religion. That kind of annoys me, and it also takes power away from his arguments.

Jonny America said...

4:18? No one walks by your desk to see what you're doing? I'm too exposed to take personal time at my computer.

hcduvall said...

Concretely? It's about a spy who returns with his weaponized cat to a spy filled city with sasquatches and, uh, spies. And his ex is there. It's either a fun comic or its not...

Um...did you just move on to Orientalism? And cite Foucault? Sigh...if it's going to be this serious all the time I'm gonna have to change the blog's name.

Also, I have an office. Also, blogger tends to note when you start the post, central time for some reason. So I started around 5:18.

Jonny America said...

Yeah, but see, I thought Orientalism was supposed to be easy, not too serious. Make me smart without trying too hard etc... Moreover, I don't think the blog has been really all that serious since that Taiwan fracus a few weeks ago.

The comic sounds pretty cool. I'll have to check it out one of these days.