Wednesday, September 22, 2004


I was in a local bookstore yesterday (one of those independent bookstores that has survived by emulating the chains) and saw two graphic novels I'd been curious about, as they've both been highly lauded, though they're quite different. I read parts of both, but ultimately decided not to buy either.

The first was The Filth by Grant Morrison. I've never been much of a Morrison fan, to be candid; the only stuff of his that I've really liked was the Flex Mentallo issues of Doom Patrol and the issues right after that. I didn't care for the first TP of The Invisibles, and I recorded my reaction to the first portion of his New X-Men run here. But I've seen The Filth lauded as his masterwork, so I thought I'd check it out. After reading the first few chapters, my main reactions were:
1) Morrison is trying way too hard to be cool, and
2) He really does seem to hold humanity in contempt.
So I quit. As I said, I only read a few chapters, and those only superficially, so don't take this as a review or full-fledged critique: I'm just stating my reaction, for anyone who might be interested.

The second was Jimbo in Purgatory, Gary Panter's graphic novel inspired by Dante's Purgatorio (from the little I read of it, that would seem to be a more accurate description than calling it an adaptation of the Purgatorio). This is a hardcover of about forty pages that costs thirty bucks; but the pages are really large, and so dense that each page is really the equivalent of at least two ordinary pages. Of course, thirty bucks for eighty pages isn't a bargain, either. But the money isn't why I didn't buy it. I passed it up for two reasons. First, I've never been particularly wild about Panter's art. Second, from the few pages I read, I got the impression that to comprehend the book, you have to both be intimately familiar with the Purgatorio, and have read many if not most of the many other classic works of literature which Panter quotes (he helpfully lists his sources for each page on the bottom). Since I meet neither qualification, I concluded that I'd be unlikely to get much out of it.

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