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The Watchtower - A thread for all comics


biglime
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Ah, another day, another no Black Dossier. Well, maybe the post is delayed.

In the meantime I've been filling in the Mooreholes on my shelves. As I said, my Lost Girls turned up and I've dealt with that now. It's a gorgeous book, both in terms of its artworks and presentation. I've read that they wanted the paper to be perfumed, and that would have fit perfectly had they managed it - it's a sumptuous art nouveau artefact, while also managing to feel like a high-class children's book.

The art is wonderful throughout - I'd seen some of it before, in the serialised parts, but as a whole it's a fantastic achievement and a real contrast to Gebbie's earlier comics work in the likes of Wimmen's Comix and Tits & Clits - not in terms of quality, but approach. The art in Lost Girls is a decadent triumph, all soft lines and warm, enveloping colours. There are also a lot of interesting visual techniques, such as entire chapters being presented through reflected images, or the panel motifs that accompany each character.

The story - well, the main factor working against it is that it's repetetive; I can't help thinking that maybe it would have worked better had it been fully released in eight-page instalments as it was originally presented in Taboo. As it stands by the halfway point in each of the books I was getting a little tired of erotica, which seems to be contrary to the authors' intentions. But the same can be said of reading through a collection of Anais Nin's short stories or, heaven help us, attempting a De Sade novel in one sitting.

But that doesn't mean it's not a good work - it definitely is. It's funny in places, touching in others, provocative and always life-affirming. I was saying to someone the other day that it wasn't particularly filthy, but then I had to reflect that actually, it is. But what it isn't is dirty or ashamed, which makes a huge difference. Ultimately it's unlike anything presented before, despite the predecessors it explores via its pastiche sections, and that makes it an unusual read, one that requires several revisits.

What else arrived? Well, I got a cheap copy of the Wild Worlds collection, which seems to be a bundle of Wildstorm mini-series and such. It's largely a pretty grim affair thanks to the generally appalling artwork, all screaming Liefeld rip-offs and spandexed tits (especially ludicrous and depressing, reading it after Lost Girls). The only non-disappointment was the Voodoo mini, Dancing in the Dark, which was pretty interesting but still tainted by the whiff of post-Image violence and misogyny that even Moore seemed unable to neutralise.

So that's a pretty poor collection that I wouldn't bother with. I also got a reasonable price on the DC Universe collection, which collects his non-Swamp Thing DC work, including Killing Joke. Some great stuff here, most of which I'd already got but not always in colour, and some filler. The excellent 'final' Superman story is there, but for some odd reason they've removed the "This is an imaginary story... aren't they all?" text from the initial splash page. Also his Vigilante two-parter, which is a little rough these days but has always been a favourite of mine for the way it breaks up what seem like inevitable clichés at the end. If you haven't got these stories already they're well worth the money.

And finally the Future Shocks collection, which makes for a nice trip down memory boulevard and still contains some classics - The Reversible Man and Chrono Cops to name but two. A lot of filler in here, but even that has the rosy glow imparted by my tinted specs to save it.

Well, you'd think with all that under my belt Black Dossier would be obliged to show its face, but no such luck and, consequently, curses.

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I was going to join the thread to start waffling on about my yearly Christmas treat of sitting and reading Cerebus beginning to end (and hopefully getting the letters book soon as well which probably won't be a yearly thing but would be nice to read anyhow (even though I don't agree with much of what he says he still writes things well).

But now I'm more interested in this under the counter trade or rarity of Black Dossier. Wikid it but nothing came up. Why's it so rare or hard to get?

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I was going to join the thread to start waffling on about my yearly Christmas treat of sitting and reading Cerebus beginning to end

Ah, much like Christmas food that ought to start out delicious and delightful and end up a laborious and repulsive chore with the occasional mince pie to lubricate all that dry, dry turkey.

But now I'm more interested in this under the counter trade or rarity of Black Dossier. Wikid it but nothing came up. Why's it so rare or hard to get?

Copyright concerns in the UK, long story short. It's not hard to get hold of, it's just hard to get hold of over here. Though that's not true at all, really, because you can just order it from Amazon US or whoever and then wait and wait and wait. You just won't be seeing it in many shops.

But look at it. LOOK AT IT! And now I won't get mine until Monday at the earliest.

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What DC say is that copyright differences between europe and the US mean that there is a higher risk of them or retailers being sued for using the various characters if they sell it in Europe. In America things become public domain 50 or 75 years (or whatever) after they were published, but in Europe it is however many years after the author died. Lawsuits were thrown around when the horrible movie came out but I don't think anything ever came of it.

In reality, it's all a huge clusterfuck as a result of editorial in-fighting in DC/Wildstorm and an enormous Fuck You to Alan Moore for not supporting Time Warner's movie franchises.

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Starts deliciously? Have you read volume 1? Starts as 'trite, standard, often funny but paper thin addition to the cute animal pastiche of accepted genre showing little of the grand design that is yet to come' genre... Moves into brilliance in High Society and Church and State, strangeness in some of the next few books, unparalleled brilliance in Jaka's Story and Melmoth and then into rich commentary towards the end.

I may not always like it but the writing and the artwork are the most rewarding of any graphic novel at all. The panning shot in The Final Day is almost worth the price of all the collected works alone and despite using all sorts of comics and graphic novels when I teach (mostly Will Eisner, Rick Veitch, Dave McKean, Bolland, Ian Gibson and quite a few others) Cerebus is the one I use to illustrate most briefs from lighting to planning, text implementation to character design. My love for Cerebus (the work, not the character or the author) knows no bounds.

Also I drink Whiskey while I'm reading it at Christmas, which also helps, but obviously makes no indication towards the quality of the work.

Am seriously interested in getting the Black Dossier though. Is the final 3d section pop up or red green ink or what? Not seen anything that says what it is rather than just 3d.

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Starts deliciously? Have you read volume 1? Starts as 'trite, standard, often funny but paper thin addition to the cute animal pastiche of accepted genre showing little of the grand design that is yet to come' genre... Moves into brilliance in High Society and Church and State, strangeness in some of the next few books, unparalleled brilliance in Jaka's Story and Melmoth and then into rich commentary towards the end.

Yes, I was a bit off there. We'll have to consider volume 1 to be some kind of crude, unappetising appetiser prior to the main course of HS and C&S and the rich pudding and fine brandy of Jaka and Melmoth.

Sim is undoubtedly one of the great living masters of telling a story visually, which is quite distinct from simply being a great artist, but I'm afraid later on he's too much of a nut for me to really enjoy it.

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Possibly. He's definitely advocating a viewpoint I don't agree with and the Final Day is occasionally too verbose for its own good, or at least too wordy to be instantly accessible.

But despite possibly peaking a couple of books prior to the end it still ends with a bang, visually becomes stronger with every page and graphic novels don't get better than the High Society through to Going Home repeated sucker punches. For one person (arguably and with no disrespect to Gerhard because he upped the stakes in a big way) to deliver so much comic goodness... it's pretty amazing. Certainly - because of his politicised narrative - he's the most underrated of graphic novelists.

But, before the thread becomes a one way street some of the Alan Moore interviews that the thread has made me look for are pretty amazing, he's a character, is Mr Moore.

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So that's a pretty poor collection that I wouldn't bother with. I also got a reasonable price on the DC Universe collection, which collects his non-Swamp Thing DC work, including Killing Joke. Some great stuff here, most of which I'd already got but not always in colour, and some filler. The excellent 'final' Superman story is there, but for some odd reason they've removed the "This is an imaginary story... aren't they all?" text from the initial splash page.

Yes - I first read that story (along with Moore's other Superman appearances: "The Jungle Line" and "For the Man who has Everything") in a black and white UK collection called "The Man of Tomorrow", which had that text included. So I was a bit disappointed not to see it in the DC Universe collection.

Speaking of that collection, I like the Green Lantern story where one of the Lanterns comes across a race of blind aliens and has to work out how to convey to them the concepts of "green", "lantern" and "in blackest night". :(

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Yes - I first read that story (along with Moore's other Superman appearances: "The Jungle Line" and "For the Man who has Everything") in a black and white UK collection called "The Man of Tomorrow", which had that text included. So I was a bit disappointed not to see it in the DC Universe collection.

Yeah, I've got The Man of Tomorrow, which is probably 50% of DC Universe. The omission is puzzling to say the least. Perhaps it was just an error.

Speaking of that collection, I like the Green Lantern story where one of the Lanterns comes across a race of blind aliens and has to work out how to convey to them the concepts of "green", "lantern" and "in blackest night". :(

Yeah, that's really [untranslatable]. A lot of those GLC stories read like adapted Future Shocks, which is probably what they are.

Speaking of things similar to Future Shocks, I forgot to mention in my Moore-up earlier that I read the Tomorrow Stories collections the other week and greatly enjoyed them. The Cobweb and Greyshirt stories were the best, I think, and reward some knowledge of comics history and culture. I especially enjoyed the Greyshirt story that ran in four parallel time periods on each page, each one presented in the comics style of its age, right down to the lettering. They're really Yesterday Stories for the most part, but they're fun to read and read like they were fun to create.

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Well I just found a UK seller on ebay saying they have copies in stock and will dispatch same-day. Took the plunge and ordered so fingers crossed.

http://myworld.ebay.co.uk/battles_in_time/ if anyone else is interested, I'll post here as soon as (/if) it arrives.

Well you all should have taken my advice...

I was skeptical about his "in stock" claim but it arrived today, a day after I ordered it!

The guy seems to have sold out now (he had 4 copies on Wednesday) but if he gets any back in stock I recommend buying them from him. VEry good ebayer A++++ etc.

I HAVE THE DOSSIER!!!

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I'd buy Lost Girls if it wasn't for my suspicion that as soon as I handed the money to the till monkey he'd hand me a complimentary macintosh with uncomplimentary stains, make me dress in it and force me to introduce myself to all the neighbouring residents as 'some kind of pervert or something.'

In one issue of Disposable Media's little news bit at the front I wrote a little bit about Top Shelf turning 10, followed by "but we still haven't dared to buy Lost Girls yet" and almost straight after the issue was written we got someone applying to write for the mag that said, again roughly quoting "I have a sincere love of comic books, and further to your mention of Lost Girls I can confirm that it is something I have bought. Please be assured however, that I am not a pervert"

When the rest of the email was written in best CV-style writing it stood out. And made me lol.

Sadly, he never ended up writing for us.

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I have Lost Girls. It arrived in a massive artificial canvas bag. Most bizarre.

Mine too! Was that from Amazon? It was a regular Amazon box, but inside a big bag. I haven't had any US Amazon stuff arrive like that before. It was a rare thrill to have to hack open a sack, I can tell you. It was a bit like a dirty Christmas.

If my Dossier doesn't show up on Monday I really am going to kick out the jams.

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Mine too! Was that from Amazon? It was a regular Amazon box, but inside a big bag. I haven't had any US Amazon stuff arrive like that before. It was a rare thrill to have to hack open a sack, I can tell you. It was a bit like a dirty Christmas.

That's exactly what it was like.

I'd been at Uni all day, to come home with my housemates bugging me to open the bag because they'd been wondering since midday what could possibly be in it. At the time I had completely forgotten that I ordered the books so I was a mystified as they were. So there I was, opening this (almost offensively porno-)graphic novel in front of them. One of them was all "YOU HAVE TO LET ME BORROW THIS", the other tried to hide a look of confused disgust.

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I'm happy, went into my local comic shop just to see if by chance a copy of Black Dossier had made its way into my folder, lo and behold, I now have it for the princely sum of £20 :wub:

Good god its lovely isnt it. Just up to the dossier itself now and already Mr Moore has managed

to tie the Great old ones into the entire pantheon of gods throughout human history

.

Thats my Saturday sorted now

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Finished reading it, and I have to say

It is utterly fantastic, of easily as good quality, wit and detail as the first two volumes. Beautiful drawings throughout, excellent grasp of the tone of whatever era it is portraying. There's a scary amount of information and references to stories, particularly through the prose sections. I can see Moore used these to cram in as many references as he could with better economy of space, than he could with the comic strip sections. I thought some of the stories, (the Bertie Wooster one is the first that springs to mind) would have been amazing if they had been drawn. But they were still very enjoyable as short stories.

I think a lot of information about its contents had leaked out on the internet, and lots of the stories somewhat retrod ground covered in the vol 2 gazetteer, and so there was nothing in it that really surprised me (except the final twist).

The only other thing aside from gushing praise I can think to mention is that I agree with Alan's opinion of the Kerouac section.

Other than that it lived up to pretty much everything I hoped it would be.

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I thought some of the stories, (the Bertie Wooster one is the first that springs to mind) would have been amazing if they had been drawn. But they were still very enjoyable as short stories.

Hang on

isn't the point of the Bertie Wooster story that it's written in the style of PG Wodehouse? Why on earth would you want to ditch that for the sake of some illustrations?

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Well I managed to get the anniversary edition of Arkham Asylum out of the library the other day. Re-read it, read the annotations on the script and my opinion still hasnt changed:

It's a load of shite.

One thing that possibly makes me think that this could be a good story ruined by the art (or at least a better story than it is in its current form) is the collection of Morrison's layout thumbnails. They seemed to make the story a whole lot clearer - and at the end of the day in a comic I want the art to be supporting/telling the narrative, not getting in the way.

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Hang on

isn't the point of the Bertie Wooster story that it's written in the style of PG Wodehouse? Why on earth would you want to ditch that for the sake of some illustrations?

Well he wouldn't have to ditch the style of PG Wodehouse... It could be illustrated and keep the style of writing surely?

There were actually other stories which I think would be better illustrated than that one, I noticed them as I read the book, but I can't remember which ones they were at the moment.

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Another day and no Dossier, damn it. I did get a couple of packages but one was a Xmas present and the other was the Yuggoth Cultures collection, so I did at least get Moored for the day. It looks pretty interesting, there's some stuff I already have, a couple of bits I haven't read and a very welcome print copy of the excellent From Hell coda, I Keep Coming Back, drawn by Oscar Zarate, that's probably worth the price of admission. A few long interviews that I haven't seen before, which I'm looking forward to digging into. Sadly the latter half of the book is given over to Lovecraft-related comics written by someone who's not Moore and can't particularly write, and furthermore half of that chunk is devoted to his own annotations of said stories. That's a puzzling inclusion - I can only speculate that perhaps his brother published the series or something like that. Well, maybe I'm being a little harsh, but that's a trend that's likely to continue until my sodding Black Dossier arrives. Maybe tomorrow.

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