Derik Badman's Journal

2019-10-25 08:04

Totally forgot to write yesterday, started working early and then never got around to it. Was over at ███'s last night for dinner, since Lianne had a work event to go to. Tried this recipe she and I saw on the Milk Street show on PBS: pasta with arugula, chevre, and walnuts. The idea was sound, but I think the ratios were off. Maybe we made too much pasta, but it definitely needed more cheese. Might try it again and see if I can get it a little creamier, as otherwise the mix of flavors was nice.

I reread the first volume of Akira over the past week or so. For some reason it got stuck in my head to read it again, so I picked up a copy of the first volume. Long ago I had all the old Epic color issues. I discovered that series when it was still coming out regularly, but only shortly before it started appearing increasingly less frequent. I'm not sure what was going on behind the scenes, but sometimes it was like half a year before the next issue would appear. At some point a number of years back I sold the whole set on ebay for a chunk of money.

There is a certain allure to these sci-fi action manga, and I'm sure some of it is an element of nostalgia for me. At the time it felt so different than everything else (back then, manga was still pretty new to the American comics scene), but now it feels a little empty. Otomo's (and his assistants one assumes) art is dynamic and detailed but the story is primarily (in the first volume at least) a bunch of extended action scenes. Almost all the characters are rather one dimensional and there is a total of one female character who appears in more than one scene (and she mostly remains opaque as far as who she is or what she is up to). I can't help but compare it to Shirow's Appleseed another sci-fi manga I first read about the same time and find it lacking in comparison. The latter is a very similar genre (near future sci-fi action), but is a lot more character driven, though, again, I only read the first volume of Akira so maybe it changes as it goes on, I only remember the broader outlines of the story. But I'm not convinced I'll keep rereading. If I want to reread manga I've certainly got a number of other options laying around already (like Lone Wolf & Cub).

I also reread Frank Santoro's Pittsburgh over the past 2 nights. Well, it was my first read of the new English edition, but I previously read the French edition was it came out. It's a beautiful book primarily about his parents. Franke eschews all the slick refinements of mainstream comics and alt comics that want to look mainstream, but working in direct color (a lot of markers I think) and leaving in mistakes and sketchy lines. He sometimes tapes corrections or additions onto the drawing and leaves the insertions (and the tape) visible. Sometimes in this book you can see how the thin paper rippled, probably from moisture. While some much less detailed or refined than so much comic art, it feels more realistic. The drawing is loose and gestural but also so specific. You can tell, even in its sketchiness, that the houses and streets are not some generic place, but are that specific place (Pittsburgh in this case).

His use of colors is non-representational and covers a wide range of tones, especially in blues and pinks. Sometimes a pale colored image has one element sketched in in black lines and it creates a striking juxtaposition. I will be rereading it (again) soon, as it's a book worth revisiting to linger over the imagery.