Thursday, July 16, 2009

Graphic Novels

I have been a fan of graphic novels since long before they were called that.

The first time I opened one of Lynd Ward's "novels without words" I was stunned. The powerful graphics, the emotional content, the dynamics of the storytelling took my breath away. I wish that they were better known. Some of the titles that I own are "God's Man", "Madman's Drum", and "Vertigo".

Milt Gross' parodied Ward wonderfully, with his "He Done Her Wrong: The Great American Novel and Not a Word in It — No Music, Too".

So I was happy to see that one of my favorite Blogs, BibliOdyssey is featuring some graphics from these novels on their latest post "Speechless", and even happier that they have provided some artists with whom I am unfamiliar.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


I was standing at the kitchen sink spooning French roast into the coffee press, when a flutter of wings past the window notified me that there was a visitor to our backyard garden. I was disappointed to see that it was a mourning dove.

It's hard to describe my feelings toward these birds, I guess it's a kind of ambivalence bordering on irritability.

For one thing, their proportions seem wrong. Their large pigeon-like body is surmounted by a tiny head that seems too small, like an afterthought, like the head that a naughty child would have constructed out of clay to replace the one that fell off and broke.

Perhaps it bothers me because their disproportions remind me so much of my seventh-grade teacher. A piece of work named Miss Watson who looked like a pigeon. Early in the school year she had selected me as her target for abuse (there seemed to be no reason for this, I wasn't a clown or disobedient) and would often discipline for some obscure fault by keeping me in the classroom during lunch; sitting waiting hungrily as she ate her invariable tomato soup from a thermos, two saltines, and a preserved kumquat extracted from a glass jar with a special fork. I'd have delighted in her eccentricity had I not been the target of it.

Another thing about the doves that grates on me is their song. I'm not sure if the thing that bothers me is its unrelenting sameness; four notes, mostly the same one, over and over, sounding as if an obsessive compulsive had got hold of a syrinx or ocarina or simply a couple of beer bottles.

Perhaps it's the relentlessly minor key of the song. I can listen to other birdsong repeat without getting bothered, but I guess that I have had my fill of depressives lately, and having a pair of them in the trees by the garden is more than I need for my own peace.

By the time the coffee had brewed, the plunger had been pressed, and the life-giving black elixir poured, the dove had left.

I went out to the back porch and sat. The long side of our backyard faces approximately south east so the early morning sun slides up behind the palisade fence to my left and plays hide and seek through the branches of a huge white pine for a couple of hours. it was just barely over the fence when a mockingbird decided to land atop one of the fenceposts.

It came in straight, facing the sun, and at the last minute turned its head to the right, and went vertical to brake, its wings and tail spread wide the white band prominent as the bird was silhouetted against the hidden rising sun the light streaming through the tips of its feathers and a small cheerful bird was suddenly transformed into a heraldic symbol.