April 2003 Archives

The Creeper's sex change

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Two lovely sisters, with Paris in the backgroundI've always been fond of the comics character The Creeper. Now Vertigo has remade the character of the Creeper for its new title Beware the Creeper.
This time out, the Creeper is a woman, now living in 20th Century Paris in the middle of a crime wave. While the reader knows the Creeper is a woman, that's all we know, since the two main candidates are twin sisters with opposite personalities. Madeline is mousy, judgmental, and full of the type of repressed anger that makes it easy to imagine her standing at the top of a watch tower with a semiautomatic weapon, surveying the dead bodies lying all around her.
Yet the focus of the story is on her sister, Judith, a vivacious femme fatale with a "live fast, die young, leave a good-looking corpse" ethos. She is brought to life with astonishing aplomb by both artist and writer. She is a pleasure to watch, and one of the reasons I'll be picking up the next issue. The sisters live together among starving artists. Paris provides a lovely backdrop for the artwork, which is enlivened by the antic drama of the art world and especially the surrealist movement.
I enjoyed this title, especially the relationship between the two sisters. I have a sister myself, and am always interested in literature or art that says something about the sister relationship. In looking for such themes, I have found that stories about two brothers or a brother and sister are much more common, especially when the stories are on a mythic scale.
There are, however, many works that deal with the subject of twins, both male and female. However, such works are often more about individual identity and the light and dark sides of a personality than about sibling relationships. It will be interesting to see how Beware the Creeper develops one or both of these themes.

For the love of Plop!

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Game publications often include articles on how to get your girlfriend involved in video games. I've never seen a similar article for comic books; I wonder if the hobby is easier to tolerate.
In any case, I am grateful that the cute-little red-headed girlfriend is so easy-going when it comes to visiting comic book stores with me, as we did last weekend. Through the wonder of historical reprints, I was even able to share with her my experience of Plop! which she read sitting on the floor of the comics store while I picked out my titles.
Plop! is a bizarre hybrid of humor and horror that I first encountered at around age 10. The first time I read it, I was attracted/repulsed by the distorted visuals and both frightened and intrigued by the stories' black humor. The comic's adult sensibility seemed to graze the top of my childhood consciousness in the same suggestive yet ultimately incomprehensible manner already familiar to me from many hours spent watching Love, American Style. My Dad also liked reading Plop! and that made it even more appealing.

Nausicaa, volume 1

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A young woman in chainmail lops off her long braid.My friends Grace and David gave me a gift certificate awhile back for one of the big bookstore chains. I wandered over to the graphic novel section and was surprised to see Volume 1 of Hayao Miyazaki's Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, which I had read was difficult to find.
So I picked up my first full-length Japanese graphic novel, eager to read this work that has been compared to The Lord of the Rings in its scope. As I read it, Nausicaa did call to mind various epics, like LOTR and Star Wars, with one crucial difference: the principal hero is female.
The name Nausicaa comes from Homer, who gave her a bit part in the Odyssey. In Miyazaki's comic, she is a telepathic warrior in a world wasted by environmental pollution. Humans live in small, sheltered enclaves, while the rest of the world is overrun by giant insects, poisonous plantlife, and acid seas.
I found the narrative intriguing, though I found the many battle sequences hard to follow. One of the many characters who goes up against Nausicaa is Princess Kushana, seen in this panel cutting her hair, a univeral female rite which I believe translates as, "Get out of my way, I am going to go kick ass now."

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