Saturday, January 15, 2011

Co-Review: Casanova Gula #1

Tessa and I follow a few of the same books and sometimes we'll talk about them over GChat, copy and paste it, then call it a post.

Geoff: Hi.

Tessa: Hello!  Let's talk Casanova!

Geoff: CoolI haven't finished reading the backmatter yet.  But they're talking about Kanye, which I'm always interested in.  

Tessa: It's great, but it will make you kind of miserable.

Geoff: Miserable how?

Tessa: I think the Scott Pilgrim media blitz and subsequent lack of success had really got to Bryan Lee O'MalleyWhich makes sense, but I keep forgetting that the movie tanked because it was such a huge thing for the circles we run in.

Geoff: Pfft... did you ever read his twitter before the movie even?  Dude is usually a downer.

Tessa: Man after my own heart then. 

Geoff: But I am surprised to find that Fraction used Kanye as an Iron Man villainI don't think it's any of the ones we've seen so far, is it?  Maybe Zeke Stane?

Tessa: The Mandarin???

Geoff: Nah…

Tessa: He talked about a bad experience on a video set…

Geoff: Really?

Tessa: Come on, image control freak, self-aggrandizing, my money's on The Mandarin

Geoff: That'd be insane.  And so good.  What'd you think of this issue?

Tessa: Dynamite.  Casanova is so rewarding to read in single issues.  I think with so many books, if you have the patience, it doesn't make much difference to wait for the trade, but Casanova is so dense and energetic, the small doses don't feel unsatisfying.

Geoff: It helps that Fraction's approach when it comes to writing each issue is to cram in as much shit possible.

Tessa: Yes, and I think if you do it right (which he does), "more is more" is a totally viable style.

Geoff: True.  Minimalism is for weenies.
How are you liking Fabio Moon's art?

Tessa: Pretty gorgeous.

Geoff: I'm not as keen on it as I was with Bá, but I do like Moon.  I feel like Fabio Moon is better with people, but Bá is better with the high action sci-fi shit.

Tessa: I think where Bá had the advantage as well is that his style is a little cleaner, I guess you'd say, which is good when there are already a million things going on – but I feel nitpicky even saying that.

Geoff: I'm with you there. Both of them are brilliant.

Tessa: And both stylish, which is so necessary for this kind of material.

Geoff: But I think that Bá's more stylized stuff is a better fit.

Tessa: AgreedHe really nails that sophisticated, yet cartoony thing, which is basically the crux of the whole book.

Geoff: Yeah, I think the main selling point for this book is just how big all the ideas are.

Tessa: Yes, how big and how many.

Geoff: The whole deal with Sasa Lisi is that she works for an agency that ensures the "survival of the multiquintessence" — doesn’t get much bigger than “everywhere and everywhen and everything in every way.”

Tessa: Yes, but what I love about it is that there are no demands on the reader to understand.  It's "welcome to the party," not "I see you haven't done your homework."  It rewards re-reading without strong-arming you into itYou don't have to "get it" to get it

Geoff: It's amazing that Fraction can build an entire multiverse with its own context and history without being entirely alienating.  He's also really good at pulling out those action one-liners and over the top "comic book" phrases that would normally be too cool/silly.  And he uses them effectively in that he makes all these characters seem so huge and big and important.

Tessa: Absolutely.  It's the right combination of sincerity and self-awareness, which is a tough line to walk without ending up being too cutesy or too arch.

Geoff: Too arch?

Tessa: Like, smug and pretentious.  Which would be sooooo easy to do.

Geoff: Definitely.

Tessa: But Fraction's always just having such a good time, and that's totally infectious.

Geoff: Right, by any other count it may be smug, but because it's totally apparent that Fraction is into it and he believes every word he writes it just comes off as insane, big-ideas fun that you’re happy to be a part of.  Compelling and ambitious stuff.  Yeah, ambitious is probably the word for it.  Fraction's going for something huge, and what I like best about it is that we can feel how big it is.

Tessa: I know, it's like watching a really smart, creative kid play with legos.

Geoff: In a character sense and a plot sense it's huge and unpredictable.  With some of the mainstream superhero stuff, it's huge, but we've seen the story so many times, it's difficult to get surprised.

Tessa: Right, and there's not nearly as much leeway when you have to adhere to continuity.

Geoff: And I don't want to shit on mainstream superhero stuff, but most of it just doesn't carry the same feeling I had reading that stuff when I was a kid.  That's how I feel when I read Casanova.  I feel like I did when I was ten reading x-men comics for the first time.  I'm surrounded by these characters and I'm immersed in this world that is so much bigger than me, and i HAVE to find out what all of this is 

Tessa: There's also an immediacy to it that's really great.  Instant gratification and infinite mystery combined.  See, I didn't read comics as a kid, and while I've read a lot of great ones, the ones that have really sucked me in and taken me out of myself have been few and far between 
this is one of them.  The word "escapism" gets tossed around a lot when people talk about comics, but I think true escapism is more rare than it's made out to be.

Geoff: Explain.

Tessa: Like what you're talking about, the ability to sit down and devour something without distraction and actually feel the real world melt away, like sentimental literacy PSAs are always talking about.  As an adult, that can be really hard to come by.

Geoff: Yeah. If I can borrow from another TV commercial: the kid in me likes the escapism that I get from reading, the adult in me likes being able to deconstruct and map the influences.  That would make a pretty shitty TV commercial, I’d bet.

Tessa: Man, that sounds so cheesy, but it's really true. 
I'm glad newman xeno is back.

Geoff: Zephyr and Xeno being awkward was gold.

Tessa: Hahaha, yes.

Geoff: I also really liked Cornelius Quinn's desperate father bit.
For a dude who's the super-gruff director of E.M.P.I.R.E. he's awfully emotional about his kids.

Tessa: Indeed.  Probably my favorite thing in this issue is zen crime

Geoff: Yeah, that's another one of those big ideas that makes this series so cool.

Tessa: But I love that while it's a big idea, it's so low-stakes and yet not treated any differently than anything else: "It's like crime, only there're no victims, and really, no crimes," but there's still a body count to put a stop to it.

Geoff: I also really liked skipping past the inevitable Short-Round sidekick phase and seeing Kaito come into his own, blowing up experimental aircrafts and fucking Ruby Seychelle.
Also that reveal that it's Kaito in the spy suit is just gold.

Tessa: Yeah, his introduction was kind of a groaner, but then the stuff I was dreading was just bypassed totally.

Geoff: Plus, that action sequence with Kaito and Cryptomech was so cool.  The two panels with Cryptomech flying and shooting his missiles in particular.  I still wish we'd gotten Bá on art for moments like that, though.

Tessa: Oh well, it's like that Rolling Stones song -- "Street Fighting Man."
Also I'm in love with the cliffhanger ending.  Xeno gets the best asides apart from god.  I could go all day on this, but I don't know that a panel-by-panel breakdown of things that I find delightful would be particularly stimulating to read.

Geoff: Why not?  Too much good stuff?

Tessa: Yes!

Geoff: That page with the trees going through the seasons was just the best.

Tessa: I can't tell if you're joking or not.

Geoff: What?  No.  Entirely serious.  I loved that page.  Time passing without a narration box, Kaito disrupting the peace of nature with big action spy chase – that page was great.  That page was good comics work.

Tessa: No disagreement here.  I find it hard to point out specific things I like in this series because it's so overstuffed with things I like.

Geoff: I know, but we're just talking about this issue.

Tessa: I mean within individual issues!

Geoff: Ha, well that's a good problem to have.
Tessa: Right?  The in-house batman curmudgeon is not without a heart.  Her advice to all creators of comics is to put everything she likes into them.

Geoff: You're the only person who calls you that.

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