On Comics: Peering Behind the Curtain


By Matthew Shaer

The late-summer/early-fall line over at awesome indie publisher Drawn and Quarterly is looking grand: a sequel to “Aya,” by Marguerite Abouet and Clement Oubrerie, called “Aya of Yop City,” a Rutu Modan book called Jamilti and Other Stories, and a new comic from Guy DeLisle, called “Burma Chronicles.” Abouet is Ivorian, and spins tales of a bygone Ivory Coast; Modan is Israeli.

Courtesy of Drawn and Quarterly

DeLisle, a Quebecois graphic novelist, first made headlines in 2005, after penning a book-length account of a trip to North Korea, which was published here by D and Q. (“Pyongyang” was followed by “Shenzhen,” the story of a long stay in a dingy Chinese industrial town.) Obviously there’s a good deal of allure in graphic travelogues: an artist is given a second dimension in which to convey color (or in DeLisle’s case, lack thereof) and faces and shapes. (Consider the epic “Palestine,” by Joe Sacco, released in 2001 over at Fantagraphics.) The scale is more intimate.

On a totally different tack, Walt Disney Studios has announced plans to develop a line of graphic novel adaptations of recent live-action films under the name Kingdom Comics. Disney would then have first rights to distribute those titles; if Disney passes up distribution rights, Kingdom execs could look elsewhere.

Which is cool, I guess, but having suffered and heaved and moaned through the last installment of “Pirates of the Caribbean,” I don’t feel any especial need to re-live it on a graphic scale. It’s interesting: what makes Disney live-action movies so good is the CGI porn. Presumably, Kingdom comix won’t come with any sort of 3-D image generator, so here’s what we’ll be left with: a shitty plot, creaking at the hinges, and a bunch of recycled characters, who were never more than the sum of their Technicolor parts.

But wait! Here’s some good news. Check out this preview grab from "Ultimate Origins," which appears next week. Now THAT I can get excited about:

Courtesy of Marvel

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