January 2002 Archives

From series to trilogy

My girlfriend, my friend Joe, and I went to go see Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring over the holidays between Christmas and New Year. My sister was supposed to come with us but she was on vacation and overslept a bit, thus missing the 2:30 matinee. Just in case you didn't catch that last part, I'll repeat: she overslept a bit, and missed the 2:30 matinee.
Anyway, I won't carry on about LOTR, other than to say it was perfect, and that we all left the theater somewhat astounded that we'd managed to wrest a positive hour or three out of Holiday 2001. Of course, I'm being flip here, and I really shouldn't be, because it's a beautiful, beautiful film; a masterpiece, really.
I cannot say the same for the movie Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, which I thought was a bit dull--although my girlfriend and I did spot Rob Reiner entering the cineplex as we left the theater, which made the experience somewhat more exciting.
Still, I think it's pretty cool that the most successful films out right now come from book series--and furthermore, book series that have so reinvigorated reading in this country. Even if reading them does turn children into spell-casting devil-worshippers.
I learned on a recent PBS special about J.R.R. Tolkien that the author originally intended his work to be a single book, and was only persuaded by his publisher to divide the story across three books for commercial reasons. Still there is an episodic aspect to Middlearth, seen, for example, in the modular growth of its folklore in the Hobbit and the Silmarillion, as well as by the whole genre of sequential, turn-based role-playing games, which, in their goal-directed exploration of fantasy worlds, are in many ways the spiritual children of LOTR.
I plan to reread LOTR soon, but today I will be starting the third book in the Harry Potter series. I finished the second book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, sometime before Christmas. I enjoyed the book to no end, especially the character of Dobby the house-elf, whose abject nature provides this second novel in the series with some of the edgy darkness that I felt was missing in the film.

Special issue on comics

Last week's LA Weekly has a multitude of articles on comics, all worth checking out.

Second slump

Not too long ago I read Scott McCloud's second book, Reinventing Comics. I found it to be disappointing. Although there are books in comic book format that do a wonderful job of teaching (including McCloud's first book, Understanding Comics), I found the overviews and arguments presented in Reinventing Comics did not lend themselves well to illustration, and could have been better dealt with in a written essay.
Only after reading the book did I learn that Reinventing Comics has been the subject of much controversy and debate with the comics community. Although I agree with many of the criticisms that have been made of the book, the long attacks on McCloud that I read seemed to me to be unnecessarily personal and vicious.

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