Saturday, July 30, 2016

Remarkable Panels And Fake Comics Part One

Robert Kanigher (w), Alex Toth (a), "White Devil ... Yellow Devil!," Star Spangled War Stories # 164, September 1972. As republished (in b&w) in Nemo # 5, November 1990 (scanned from the magazine mock-up).

This post could also be titled: White Flowers... Red Flowers.

I started writing about comics more than 25 years ago in the so-called fanzines Nuxcuro and Nemo (I don't like the term because I'm no fanatic, of course). That said, Manuel Caldas' amateur magazine Nemo was first published in 1986. I came on board in # 4 of the second series (August 1990). 

So, as you can see above, very early (in the next issue, really) Manuel Caldas accepted my suggestion to include a "Vinhetas Notáveis" [remarkable panels] section. What he doesn't know to this day, because I never told him, is that the above was not the remarkable panel that I intended. The real one is shown below:

"White Devil ... Yellow Devil!": I don't know who the colorist was? The Grand Comics Database doesn't help. Neither does Alex Toth.

This remarkable story was republished in Sgt. Rock Special # 8 (June 1990). This means that it was fresh on my mind and it impressed me enough to ask Manuel to open "our" brand new remarkable panels section with one of its panels. Below: Greg Theakston's colors for the same panel:

"White Devil ... Yellow Devil!" as republished in Sgt. Rock Special # 8, June 1990.  

The dirt was colored differently.
According to what I call my Nelson Goodman theory of comics fakes recoloring should be banned. Below we can see the first page of the story as originally published:

Robert Kanigher (w), Alex Toth (a), "White Devil ... Yellow Devil!," Star Spangled War Stories # 164, September 1972. The writer was the star of the show.

Anyway, let's see what Alex Toth said about it:

Caught here.

Now, Greg Theakston's colors (wrongly called Theakson):

Robert Kanigher (w), Alex Toth (a), Greg Theakston (c), "White Devil ... Yellow Devil!" as republished in Sgt. Rock Special # 8, June 1990.

There are few issues in the area of film preservation that arouse more anger than the issue of colorization. That is because it is an issue involving taste, and, to put it bluntly, anyone who can accept the idea of the colorization of black and white films has bad taste. 
I wholeheartedly agree, but I don't think that this is just a matter of taste. It's also a matter of a legitimate historical artifact vs. a fake. It's as if someone painted something over a Rembrandt or if someone rebuilt some part of St. Peter in Rome in some modern style. In the end, though, this is also a matter of taste because bad taste favors what's fake and flashy over what's authentic.

Why did (and does) the comics industry and comics readers accept  such a thing? Because, you see, not all comics creators were born equal. There's a hierarchy that mostly goes like this: 1) the drawer; 2) the writer; 3) the editor; 4) the inker; 5) the colorist; 6) the letterer. As you can see above the header of "White Devil ... Yellow Devil!" was erased from the republished version. This happened, methinks, because it gave the writer too much of a star status (which is too much for a # 2). This means that colors can be changed, but changing some master's drawings isn't easily accepted by readers (or should I say, watchers?).

But let's go back to the first page of "White Devil ... Yellow Devil!"... Among other minute differences Greg Theakston corrected the anonymous colorist's, according to Alex Toth, mistake: the white flowers at the end were colored red at the beginning. I would say that this (the correction, I mean) shouldn't have been done and yet... 

Greg Theakston's recoloring in this story is quite good and in many ways quite faithful to the original color. There are hundreds or thousands of horrible recoloring jobs out there (mainly using the worst nightmare of comics coloring: computer generated gradients that turn every surface into pristine plastic). So, I would say that this is a really bad choice to attack fake comics. And yet, I chose it for a purpose: since it is a borderline case between what should (only the original material should be reproduced) and shouldn't be done, I'm inclined to agree that correcting a blatant mistake is acceptable. On second thought the democracy of comics creators tells us that the original colorist has as much right to the integrity of his or her work as everybody else (the colorist was usually a woman, which is an additional reason, in the boys club that is the comics industry, to disrespect colors). I'm not even sure if we can call the red flowers a mistake. Alex Toth didn't own the story. He certainly didn't own the colors, so, if the colorist chose to color the flowers red on page one who is he to say that it was a mistake? If Sheldon Mayer, the editor, said nothing, the colors on the first page were always meant to be red, the color of blood, period. (Kindness is what kills both "devils" and we can metonymically link kindness to flowers.)

In the end the question is: who created this comic? Is Greg Theakston one of the creators? The answer is obviously and rotundly, no, he isn't.

Monday, July 25, 2016

José Muñoz Sobre Carlos Nine!

José Muñoz, Carlos Loiseau (Caloi), Carlos Nine, Caloi en su tinta, años noventa.

Sì, atorrante, hijo de zapateros, como yo, mas atorrante y jodòn que yo, este peronista nacional, querendòn y peliador se cultivò en los barrios de Haedo y cercanìas, quizàs hasta Moròn habrà llegado en sus andanzas. Hablando de tamangos (zapatos), los suyos tenìan una zapaterìa en Haedo, los mìos en La Paternal y Pilar. Su viejo ademàs tocaba en una orquesta de tangos amateur que amenizaba veladas en el gran Buenos Aires y tambièn en la Capital, durante los '40 y los '50. Lo conocì el mismo dìa en que me conociò, fué allà por el '84, cuando pude volver a Buenos Aires después de 12 anios de ausercia, 12! Nuestra primera conversaciòn fuè sobre empeines, dibujo, hormas, tìas bailarinas, tango, patios, conciencia nacional y popular, Pratt y Breccia, y de aquì pasamos a comentar las medias con ligas que gastaban los tangueros, y no solo ellos, de la època. El seguìa impresionado por la palidez de la piel de las piernas de su padre y de sus colegas que, agitàndose en un enviòn rìtmico, dejaban entrever al levantàrseles los pantalones, y de las estrìas oscuras, las inverosìmiles ligas de sostén que cruzaban esas blancuras nocturnas al neòn, agravadas por los lamentables colorcitos claros de las medias. Ahì me dije, yo a éste no me lo pierdo. Y asì nos seguimos frecuentando durante las 4 o 5 ultimas Argentinas, comentàndolas a todas, sumidos en desesperadas chanzas nacionales y cosmopolitas aderezadas de afectos caneros semiofendidos.
Carlitos Nine, gran talento de mis pagos.
Ah, Isabelinho, ni yo ni el, creo, estamos de acuerdo en que cambies el nombre de tu sitio, quizàs si el cambio lo propusieras para la entera especie humana, tipo "La especie que merece...!" habrìa un poco mas de quòrum.

José Muñoz Sobre Carlos Nine! - Coda

Bueno, bueno! Ni que decir tiene que es un gran honor recibirlo en este humilde Crib, maestro!
El suyo es un voto de calidad así que, Machete se queda.

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Last One With a PS - Coda

I'm seriously pondering the possibility of changing my blog's title to "This Art Form Deserves to Die!" What do you think?

Also, to know why, if you read French, read this.

The Last One With a PS

Below is the last elongated panel by Hugo Pratt on the cover of Misterix.

Héctor German Oesterheld (w), Hugo Pratt (a), Stefan Strocen (c), "La mina de los demonios" [the devils' mine], Misterix # 456, August 9, 1957.

By the way, I continue to read, on some French sites, that Hugo Pratt wrote this and that WITH Oesterheld. It's an improvement since the days when Oesterheld's name was completely forgotten, but get this people: Hugo Pratt didn't write a word in "Sgt. Kirk", "Ernie Pike" (except in one story, at the end of the run, that he did alone), or "Ticonderoga". Please, get your facts straight once and for all!... Enough already!...

À propos, je continue a lire, dans des sites français, que Hugo Pratt a écrit ceci et cela AVEC Oesterheld. Cést un progrès dès les jours où le nom d’Oesterheld était complètememt oublié, mais aprenez ceci s’il vous plaît: Hugo Pratt n’a pas écrit un mot de “Sgt. Kirk”, “Ernie Pike” (à l’exception d’une histoire qu’il a fait tout seul à la fin de la série), ou “Ticonderoga”. Verifiez les faits une fois pour toutes!... Ça suffit, non?..

Oh, and, another thing: the above image was never reprinted, as you see it above, since it was first published almost 60 years ago. This is indeed an amnesiac art form! On top of that the historiography of comics is full of false assumptions, like the one above, put into circulation by incompetent amateurish "historians" and adoring hagiographers. This art form deserves to die!...

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Geneviève - Coda

The guys down there at The Comics Journal did a great job to remember Geneviève:
starting with her own words and then going to a great obituary by Rob Clough to finish at a moving rememberance by Anders Nielsen.

You just look at that drawing below with a menacing cloud over her and the bright colors of her daughter's drawing mirroring her happy last moments with her. What really troubles me though is the empty word balloon. Maybe these are the words she will never be able to tell her as she grows up. It's sad beyond belief...

I hope that no one minds if I publish this great work of art here.

One last thing: I loved the words of Dylan Horrocks:
She introduce herself [at Angoulême] and gave me the most beutiful little book I'd seen in ages. [My wife] Terry and I hung out with her a bit that week and she treated us like co-conspirators, talking about the weirdness of Angoulême and her own feelings of disconfort. She was like a wild animal creeping around a zoo, looking in horror at the cages, afraid she might end up in one. Later, she sent me comics and records, and we saw her again when she came to New Zealand to play some gigs. I'm so glad we got to see her play. Her comics are among my favorite art of any kind, ever. Sometimes this world seems so cruel, and this is so awful and sad. But her art makes me fall in love with the world, with all its darkness and pain and beauty and love, and looking at it now is like a gift. She never went in the cage.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Geneviève Castrée

I'm still in shock! Geneviève Elverum died three days ago! Her legacy in comics history is inversely proportional to the days she lived on earth!

Geneviève Castrée (Woelv), Gris, 2006.