Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Lunchtime reading

They did something to the comics section at Borders and now I can't find it and I tried asking about it, but the person I asked didn't have a clue. So for now I'm taking refuge at the Barnes and Noble for my lunch breaks. I was elated but then mildly disappointed after I found and read 30 Days of Night. The other day I was pleasantly surprised when I stumbled across Completely Doomed since it had stories written by Bloch and Matheson in it. Also some of the artwork is neat, with the Miss Doom narrator a lot of it reminded me of Tales from the Crypt and its other EC Comics brethern.

Speaking of comics, I'm finally reading The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. I feel like the last person on the planet to read it...and I must admit I'm enjoying it a terrifying amount. I'm glad this book didn't come out when I was 12 or 13 though, because it's just the type of story and writing that would've had put me into a depressed funk because I would've been jealous about creating an awesome new comic and changing that scene. And no, I don't mean in the present, but back during the coming of the comic Golden Age. Yep, I was one of those kids who always wanted to live in the past.

I used to be on a big kick of "America: Pre 1960s" when I was younger. I devoured "The Jungle" in two days and took a keen interest in workers unions and politics of that time, creating a huge presentation around the theme "Guilded Decay" about urban living conditions for history class; in English class I wrote a short story about a girl from an Irish immigrant family living in Chicago during the heyday of the Union Stock Yards; I wanted to be just like Jennifer Jason Leigh's character in "The Hudsucker Proxy." It also went with my whole gotta be a journalist kick. More 19th century, but I remember as kid first hearing about Nellie Bly and how she faked insanity to report on conditions in insane asylums, and more importantly, traveling around the world in around 72 days without modern transportation means and all on her own. Just traveling and writing about traveling like that back then. I don't know, like Hemingway or something. I wished I could've been born earlier so I could volunteer to fight in the Spanish Civil War.

It a time where there was just so much change. You could say that about nowadays with the Internet and everything, but to a little just turned teenage me, that age when, ha, "everything seemed possible," is how the cliched turn of phrase goes I believe. The changes happening in the here and now just didn't seem to have..."the same explosive qualities," you'd say while snapping your fingers in time. "That electrifying spark." The changes happening now seemed to me like small, tiny, logical steps or minor improvements.

I don't know how else to explain how I felt except to compare it to Richard Deming's scifi short story "The Shape of Things To Come." In it, George Blade travels to the future using a time-nightshirt invented by his uncle, but in it he merely travels from 1900 to 1950, but all the changes that occur in that half-century period is just so immense. When written out like that, it really is amazing to think how much changed.

Oh, and the WORDS. My weird thing with words and the way they flow and fit together? The patter of slang and smart talk was fantastic to me. It could be a smart double-entendre purred out by Mae West or hard-boiled narration an dialogue in a pulp novel (Brick anyone? LOVE it. Obviously, also loved Jennifer Jason Leigh's fast- and hard-talking girl voice). The pitter-patter of it all was just gorgeous. Combine my wishing to be able to speak in a smart confident and witty manner when in fact I'd usually get tongue-tied around strangers and was an extremely shy kid who didn't really open up with the smart alecky talk unless I really knew a person, it was very much wishful thinking on my part.

I still wish that one of these days I'll sit down and finish a comic. I'm not the best artist in the world, but sequencing is what gets me. I'm horrifyingly bad with that. One of these of these days...for now I'm just going to continue my "research" and read more comics I suppose.


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