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Author Topic: Whats everyone reading?  (Read 714428 times)

Apestrife

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Re: Whats everyone reading?
« Reply #6735 on: 02 August, 2020, 02:13:34 PM »
Cerebus: Jaka's Story I quite liked this book. A weirdly engrossing and surpisingly mature story about a woman Jaka, who's a waitress and dancer a pub. One day she get's a social visit by an old friend, a very angry sword carrying aardvark named Cerebus. While this is happening Jaka's husband is gossiping details of her early life to writer "Oscar" (who's basically Oscar Wilde) who's penning a story (inside the story) out of it. Felt like equal parts Don Rosa's Scrooge McDuck and Ingmar Bergman. Hard to explain, but hard not to recommend.



I've read some reviews and such on the rest of the Cerebus series, but Jaka's story feels like sweet spot for me. Especially given how well it reads as stand alone, and how off the rails the later books went.

pictsy

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Re: Whats everyone reading?
« Reply #6736 on: 02 August, 2020, 08:24:19 PM »
It's kinda odd thinking of someone coming at Jaka's Story as it's own self contained story.  Probably a better way of reading Cerebus.  You might like Melmoth as well.  Some people liked Going Home.  I didn't, but some people did.

I loved Cerebus when I was a kid, but it is problematic and does get more and more tedious (and problematic) as it goes on.  I have the whole collection in trades, but I haven't read them all (couldn't get through the last two).  Nevertheless I still have a soft spot for High Society and the "Swords of Cerebus" stories.




Colin YNWA

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Re: Whats everyone reading?
« Reply #6737 on: 02 August, 2020, 09:19:01 PM »
Yeah the idea of approaching 'Jaka's Story' as a stand alone work is fascinating. I've been so immersed in Cerebus since my late teens that opportunity has long since passed me. Dave Sim for all his significent issues and clear mental health problems, over the years is a master of the form.

I love the first 200 issues of Cerebus as body of work, even as the thoughts and ideas of the creator where becoming increasingly problematic towards the end of that run. I really can't enjoy 'Guys' and the materials after that, I've read significent chunks, its too entwined with his misogynistic world view and I can't engage in it anymore. I quickly abandoned Cerebus in Hell after a foolish daliance to see if Dave Sim's views had changed to make his work more approachable. Alas they hadn't and after a closer reading of issue 3 (I think its was) I realised I couldn't support his work anymore.

However Cerebus as a body of work, certainly from issue 14ish - 200 is quite unequaled. I do worry how I will react to it if I read it again now, but I loved it when I read it last 10 years(ish) ago. Its well worth delving further into, at least the first 200, though with a warning that care needs to be taken towards the end of that run.

Some old thoughts on this here

https://forums.2000ad.com/index.php?topic=34683.msg635507#msg635507

pictsy

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Re: Whats everyone reading?
« Reply #6738 on: 03 August, 2020, 12:28:01 AM »
I'd personally be careful recommending Cerebus beyond issues 150.  That is when Sim really started alienating his audience.  It's kinda funny (in a not funny way), considering that the main character is shown committing rape and killing babies before that point.  Church and State also doesn't really go anywhere or have much of a point.  A lot of things happen to Cerebus and he states to lose his own agency in his story around that point. I know people who have said Going Home is not that bad, but I just couldn't be doing with it.

There is a lot to celebrate about Sims work, but there is a lot he gets so wrong.  An example would be turning the comic 360 degrees whilst reading.  He did nothing within the story itself to reflect on why he is putting the reader through such an inconvenience and in the end that's all it ends up being, an inconvenience.  I also don't think that a comic is the place for pages of just text.  You want to do that, write a novel.  His story telling has massive flaws in it.  Plot threads and characters dropped out of disinterest and important things happening out of panel.  He just moved on to what was his latest passion and some of that turned out to be utter garbage.  Especially the later stuff.  Honestly, I think the best we can say about Sim as a creator is he was hit and miss and then just miss.  With one exception.  Speech bubbles.  For which he was master of... until Cerebus in Hell, which is lazy and shit.

pictsy

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Re: Whats everyone reading?
« Reply #6739 on: 03 August, 2020, 12:33:45 AM »
I should probably clarify.  I have deep and conflicting opinions on it as a body of work and I still try to reconcile it with the creator.  Usually it is easy for me to know whether I can separate the art from the artist, but I have a hard time figuring out my feelings when it comes to Cerebus.  I don't even know why.  I am really not that precious about the things I loved as a kid.

Colin YNWA

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Re: Whats everyone reading?
« Reply #6740 on: 03 August, 2020, 06:06:06 AM »
With one exception.  Speech bubbles.  For which he was master of... until Cerebus in Hell, which is lazy and shit.

To be Sim to Sim Cerebus in Hell was borne of necessity as he'd lost the ability to draw due to hand surgery. Doesn't stop it being rubbish but lazy might be unfair.

pictsy

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Re: Whats everyone reading?
« Reply #6741 on: 03 August, 2020, 09:16:35 AM »
To be Sim to Sim Cerebus in Hell was borne of necessity as he'd lost the ability to draw due to hand surgery. Doesn't stop it being rubbish but lazy might be unfair.

Maybe it's unfair to say that because he couldn't draw, but he certainly could collage and there are definitely more inventive ways of doing that than what he did, so maybe not.  It doesn't look like he tried very hard to make something visually interesting, regardless of his impairment... but maybe he simply didn't have the creativity any more.  Nevertheless, I'm not sure the man really deserves the consideration of whether it's fair or unfair to call a garbage looking work of his lazy or not.  Others mileage may vary.

Apestrife

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Re: Whats everyone reading?
« Reply #6742 on: 03 August, 2020, 10:39:06 AM »
Yep, a lot of ins and outs when it comes to Dave Sim. As is with a lot of writers. But in his case I choose to separate him from his work to the fullest (especially since he groomed an underage girl), as well as Jaka's story from the rest of Cerebus. Which I think her story lends itself very well to. Read it as a Alice in Wonderland-sque little tale (Couldn't help it but to think of Thatcher as the queen of hearts) about a woman with a very beautiful and powerful presence and her desire to dance: how those things affects those around her.

But from what I understand Sim built her up soley to ruin her for the reader in the later volumes, and I don't care much for that. Especially not since it seems very forced, at a dire expence of her character and for some ill-fated nonsense. I also think her and Cerebus relationship is made more than clear in Jaka's story, when he asks for forgivness and asks her to come with him.

Regarding Cerebus as a whole, I can see why people dig it, and I don't have a problem with that at all. I could see a good chunk sticking to #1-150/200, and others the whole lot since he actually finished what he started. Perhaps even the idea that Cerebus would "Die alone unmourned and unloved".

Tjm86

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Re: Whats everyone reading?
« Reply #6743 on: 15 August, 2020, 07:07:52 PM »
What with the re-release of the 80's Flash Gordon film I decided to have a go at the original comic strip courtesy of our good friends at Titan Books.  Considering the age of the strip, the artwork is impressive.  It's fascinating to work through it and admire the quality. 

There is more of a swashbuckling / fantasy vibe to it and the SF aspects are fairly low key but it is well worth the time.  I also found watching the film having spent a bit of time on the strip that it gave that experience a different feel.  Some of that was comparing the film and the source material.

As a story it is incredibly dated and the characterisation is incredibly predictable / uni-dimensional.  Arguably though this is very much a feature of the time.  It's not a case of suffering as a result, rather reading it with these things in mind.

As for the book itself, it is an example of when Titan really goes to town and does an outstanding job.  The reproduction is exceptional.  What is also exceptional is the quality of additional material about the character development and Raymond's artistic career.


Colin YNWA

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Re: Whats everyone reading?
« Reply #6744 on: 18 August, 2020, 08:59:10 PM »
Yeah I read the Alex Raymond volumes of Flash Gordon and while they really show their age they are great fun. I've not picked up any of the volumes by other creators any recommendations?

Anyway I came here to discuss Nailbiter. A while ago I read volume 1 and said this

Quote
Just read the 1st trade and its pretty infuriating. See I really enjoyed it, but it was God awful. So many moments that completely pulled me out the story by incredulity. So many 'what the fuck' turn of events, it was just poor. Yet it had a compelling mystery, was a quick simple page turner and really engaging, when I stayed in the story. Art was effective if not mind blowing.

So have picked up the other volumes and started to read them while on holiday... and as it goes on the incredulity doesn't stop and eventually overcomes the page turner. The biggest problem is shock value of the twisty turny events robs the characters of any sense of engagement and grounding making them plot vehicles not characters you invest in or trust. They are just there as servents to the story and offer no value in and of themselves.

This all builds up to the point where the so bad its good, fun schlock of it over heats and explodes. So half way through volume 4 with mysteries and intrigues a plenty built up I realised I just didn't care enough and so stopped reading. I've enough to read to waste time on things were I don't care about the characters.

Leigh S

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Re: Whats everyone reading?
« Reply #6745 on: 21 August, 2020, 04:58:02 PM »
I think anyone reading Flash Gordon for character stuff is... going to be disappointed!

I love it, but Flash himself is in the grand tradition of Edgar Rice Burroughs Carter from MArs/Napier from Venus characters - embodiments of a certain antiquated (but sadly not antiquated enough!) American "spirit" rather than genuine character.

Story wise, its a wash out mostly too.  But the art is so amazing, and the dreamlike idea of a "Mongo" style planet are so compelling when tied to that art, that I can forgive the weaknesses in the character and story - indeed, i'm not sure those positives would be best served by improvements in those negatives. 

kev67

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Re: Whats everyone reading?
« Reply #6746 on: 23 August, 2020, 12:38:58 AM »
I am currently reading The Happy Return (Horatio Hornblower book) by C.S.Forrester, and Waverley by Sir Walter Scott. Both are historical fiction in that when they were written they were written about the past.

I heard Star Trek was once pitched as Hornblower in space. Thing is, you think space travel is exciting because it's futuristic and high tech, but in reality it would be extremely boring. There's no weather; there're no geological features to speak of, it would take decades (at least') to get anywhere, and there's probably no one to fight. Besides C.S. Forrester had the complete collection of the Naval Gazette to study and knew sailing inside out. Sci-fi writers often do not know their science very well, or they break scientific laws because they are so limiting, or whatever circumstances they think up are contrived, or arbitrary or extrapolations of past wars.

Waverley is a lot better than I thought it would be. It's about this English army officer who finds himself the wrong side of the lines during the Jacobite insurrection in 1745. He actually sympathises with the Jacobites but in a luke warm way. I thought the book would be pompous and turgid, but it's pretty good actually. I can see why he was once n international bestseller.

von Boom

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Re: Whats everyone reading?
« Reply #6747 on: 23 August, 2020, 05:45:48 PM »
I am currently reading The Happy Return (Horatio Hornblower book) by C.S.Forrester, and Waverley by Sir Walter Scott. Both are historical fiction in that when they were written they were written about the past.

I heard Star Trek was once pitched as Hornblower in space. Thing is, you think space travel is exciting because it's futuristic and high tech, but in reality it would be extremely boring. There's no weather; there're no geological features to speak of, it would take decades (at least') to get anywhere, and there's probably no one to fight. Besides C.S. Forrester had the complete collection of the Naval Gazette to study and knew sailing inside out. Sci-fi writers often do not know their science very well, or they break scientific laws because they are so limiting, or whatever circumstances they think up are contrived, or arbitrary or extrapolations of past wars.

Waverley is a lot better than I thought it would be. It's about this English army officer who finds himself the wrong side of the lines during the Jacobite insurrection in 1745. He actually sympathises with the Jacobites but in a luke warm way. I thought the book would be pompous and turgid, but it's pretty good actually. I can see why he was once n international bestseller.
Hornblower is a favourite of mine. I reread them every few years. I generally rate Hornblower higher than Aubrey/Martin simply because Forrester sticks to the action and doesn't go for too many Austenesque moments the way O'Brian does.

kev67

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Re: Whats everyone reading?
« Reply #6748 on: 23 August, 2020, 10:14:53 PM »
True about the Austenesque momemts, but it was quite interesting reading Persuasion, which includes a few naval officers. One of Jane Austen's brothers ended up Admiral of the Fleet, but that might be because he lived to such a great age.

I have often thought the Aubrey-Maturin books were more like the original Star Trek than Hornblower. Kirk's like Aubrey; Spock's like Maturin.  Personally I think Hornblower is better than the Aubrey-Maturin series.

Apestrife

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Re: Whats everyone reading?
« Reply #6749 on: 24 August, 2020, 06:50:57 PM »
The Three-Body Problem : The Dark Forest : Death's End by Liu Cixin reminded me of both 2001 as well as the foundation books, and towards the almost a little bit of Phil K Dick. Basically about the world under attack from aliens, and the chinese comes to the rescue. The fight goes on for 1000 of years. Enjoyed all three of them very much. Especially the science stuff. Lot of it very very interesting concepts, and some dark ones as well. And mistakes are made to say the least. My favorite bit was probably the idea of a dark forest theory in the second book, and especially the ending. Brilliant twist!