Thursday, January 31, 2013

Luke Pearson

     Luke Pearson is an English comic author and artist whose work has made its way over here slowly but surely.  In his lone work for adults, Everything We Miss, he shows us the slow and harsh dissolution of a relationship between a young man and woman, even as he makes us privy to the world that exists just outside their sight and knowledge.  As they argue fiercely in their kitchen, just out of their peripheral vision are weird little spider-like creatures that silently observe the unfolding drama of humanity.  As the man drives forlornly down a dark country road, he just misses a pine tree uproot itself and dance.  Neither of them see the dark figure that lowers itself down and twist ethereal fingers around the man's tongue and jaw, controlling his every word.  This is a surreal world that is both disturbingly eerie and deeply emotional.
     Mr. Pearson, somewhat miraculously, brings this same sense of the eerie life that exists outside our normal perceptions, to a series for children featuring one of the great, plucky, big-hearted heroines of all time.  Hilda has the uncanny ability to befriend anyone, whether it's a giant as tall as a mountain who appears only at midnight, or a talking bird who has forgotten how to fly.  Her adventures take her wandering through a countryside populated by miniature, invisible elves who want to get rid of her (as in Hilda and the Midnight Giant) and through a painstakingly designed and unbelievably evocative city where the denizens prepare for their annual parade to honor a great, God-like raven (as in Hilda and the Bird Parade).  Hilda herself, who first appeared in Mr. Pearson's Hildafolk, is an irresistible character, with a bottomless sense of adventure and a natural instinct for empathy and friendship.
     Mr. Pearson's gentle cartoonish characters and meticulously conceived environments create melancholy worlds filled with mysterious nooks and crannies that manage to work beautifully in stories for both adults and children.  This is a rare gift and, as he branches out into things like the short piece he has in First Second's upcoming Fairy Tale Comics, hopefully we will be seeing a great deal more of his imagination on display.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Comic Book Club Live

     I will be appearing on the Internet talk show Comic Book Club Live on the evening of Tuesday, March 12th to discuss comic books, education and the publication of What We Become.  They shoot the show live at various spots in New York City.  If you happen to be in the area please stop by.
     I'll post more details as the date nears.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Solid Idea

     Jim Holt, author of the fascinating Why Does the World Exist?:  An Existential Detective Story, was a recent guest on NPR's Radiolab.  The subject of the short episode is nothing less than the very nature of existence, which is not bad for a podcast that runs less than fifteen minutes.  The discussion centers on how solid reality is at its most basic level or whether it is actually comprised of fields or rules.  Essentially, it is asking the question, is reality made of stuff or is it made of idea?  This, of course, is a subject of great interest to me, as Those That Wake will attest.
     You can hear the entire episode here.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Questions

     "Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple."
     Pontificating on the deeper meaning here would belie the wisdom of the quote itself.  Just want to mention that these words were said by the Doctor himself, Theodore Geisel.  Apparently, the cat behind the hat didn't need an entire book to get a solid point across.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Emily Carroll

     As 2013 gets underway and I prepare for the Spring semester at Pratt, I'm revisiting certain materials I plan to use for the graphic novel course I teach, and I came across the sublimely eerie webcomic Margot's Room.  I posted about it once before, but in this second pass I rediscovered all the offerings at the website of creator Emily Carroll.  She has seven webcomics for view there and, while none are quite as ambitious as Margot's Room, they all have a lot to offer.  From the myth-inspired Anu-Anulan and Yir's Daughter to the format-teasing Death of Jose Arcadio to her unsettling Dream Journals, they are by turns experimental, melancholy, creepy and beautiful.  She has produced very little by way of traditionally published material that I can find, but her work s reminiscent of the fantastic Secret of Kells, an animated film which also weaves together fairy tale elements into a lyrical and melancholy tapestry.