What happens in Vegas…

July 20, 2009

… has nothing to do with what’s about to happen in San Diego at the 2009 Comic-Con International, except for the fact that I might actually go if it were happening in Vegas. I love comics, I really do, and there are some great-sounding panels and activities (which I cherry pick in this week’s Flipped), but I can’t see taking a plane and everything that entails just for a comics convention. I’m going to SPX this year, but that’s an easy and pleasant drive for me to one of my favorite metropolitan areas. If CCI moved to Vegas, I could combine it with a bunch of other destinations that I really love, like Zion National Park in southern Utah and… well… Vegas. (And yes, I know that exhibitors are concerned that their potential convention customers would be waylaid by shiny, jingly slot machines and the like and not spend anything on comics. That’s a perfectly reasonable concern, but as usual, I’m coming at this from an entirely selfish perspective.)

Update: Speaking of cons, there’s a terrific roundtable on girls and fandom up at Robot 6.

Elsewhere at The Comics Reporter, Tom points to this article about someone snatching up domain names of people, including an emerging queer performer, to post virulently anti-gay evangelical comics. (I know they aren’t just anti-gay, but that’s what initially got my hackles up.) Nothing communicates a heartfelt desire to share one’s faith like ambushing people expecting something completely different while robbing an artist of a potential venue to promote his or her work.

Sing… sing a song…

July 20, 2009

clovercoverI can’t bring myself to skim when I’m reading for pleasure. If the book is awful enough, I’ll abandon it entirely, but if it doesn’t hit that threshold, I feel compelled to read every word. This can be a problem. It certainly was when I was reading CLAMP’s Clover (Dark Horse). The book is beautifully drawn, economically plotted, often moving, and includes some of the worst poetry I’ve ever read. It includes that awful poetry dozens of times, and, masochistic completist that I am, I felt obliged to read them every time.

“a bird in a gilded cage,
a bird bereft of flight,
a bird that cannot cry,
a bird all by itself”

cloverblackThese are the lyrics of one of the lynchpin characters, a chanteuse whose untimely death did not, unfortunately, take her songs with her. They’re portrayed as so moving that even isolated psychics can be stricken by their beauty, but I was reminded of the reject pile from my high-school literary magazine.

“Letting me forget with your voice and your touch;
Breaking off the chains that bind my heart and feet”

Now I’m not going to say that my taste in lyrics is impeccable. Sure, I think Stephen Sondheim is a god, but I also liked Air Supply back in the day. But I could hear Air Supply’s awful, awful lyrics being sung, backed by lushly cheesy orchestrations with achingly sincere vocals. In Clover, I have nothing but the words over and over again. I wish there was an advanced version of that greeting-card technology that would allow me to actually hear a song rather than just read its maudlin lyrics. While Dark Horse has done a beautiful and generous job producing this collection, it doesn’t sing when you open it.

cloverwhiteWell, okay, it kind of sings when you open it, because the illustrations are very, very beautiful. The four members of CLAMP trade duties, and Clover was drawn by Mokona with assistance from Tsubaki Nekoi and Satsuki Igarashi, with story by Nanase Ohkawa. What’s most striking to me is the use of negative space. Backgrounds are rather scant; panels float on fields of white and black, creating a precision of emotional effect. It also highlights the elegance, verging on sensuality, of the juxtaposition of the panels.

Lyrics aside, it’s got a story that’s economical and moving, as I said earlier. It’s about immensely powerful psychics identified by the government for possible intelligence and military use who turned out to be a little too powerful for that government’s comfort. The psychics try to find comfort and peace within the restrictions of their daily lives, and some are more successful than others. The collection is less a beginning-to-end narrative than a timeline-jumping look at a group of interconnected characters, a core event, and the things that led up to it. There are some nicely understated moments and many lushly angst-y ones.

“Now, come close to me,
I’ll sing an endless song,
God, please tell me,
Redder than red, the truest love.”

But, god, those lyrics.