Style as Imitation

Leonardo #1, page 17 (1987) (detail; First Publishing reprint). Art by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird.

1.

My father, who once trained as a baker, taught me when I was a kid how to bake an apple pie. I don’t know where he got the original recipe from; I highly doubt that he invented it. Certainly he didn’t invent the idea of baking pies. And he didn’t invent the idea of baking an apple pie.

He was very clear about certain instructions:

  • always use Granny Smith apples;
  • always use ice-cold water;
  • touch the dough as little as possible.

Since then, I’ve baked several apple pies, and over time I’ve modified the recipe slightly, but it’s essentially the same (and I never violate his prime instructions).

When I make a new apple pie, I’m not doing anything new.

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Spoken Word Artist Peter Wyngarde

On Saturday, when I couldn’t be at AWP, I consoled myself by attending the Music Box‘s 4th Science-Fiction Spectacular. (It turns out that John Carpenter’s Dark Star (1974) is a wonderful little film—2001 by way of Dr. Strangelove.)

But then Sunday found me, just like Ming the Merciless, boooored once again, so I went back to scouring the internet for Klytus/Destro slash fiction clips from Flash Gordon:

While looking I came across a few tracks from an album I’d never heard of, Peter Wyngarde’s When Sex Leers Its Inquisitive Head (1970). Bring inquisitive myself, I pursued…

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Reading Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, part 4

TDKR page 78.

This post is in memory of Dick Giordano (20 July 1932–27 March 2010), original editor of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8

Time now to talk about Book Two (of four): “The Dark Knight Triumphant.” Having prevented Two-Face from destroying Gotham’s Twin Towers, Batman turns his attention to the Mutant gang that’s been terrorizing the city. We learn more about Commissioner Gordon’s impending mandatory retirement, and meet his successor: Captain Ellen Yindel, whose appointment (and hostility toward the Dark Knight) will motivate much of Book Three’s plot. Miller also introduces a new Robin, the young teenager Carrie Kelley, who will become a central character. And Superman is given subtle orders (by President Reagan) to help ensure that the newly-returned Batman stays in line.

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Reading Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, part 1

Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8

These days, Frank Miller is arguably best-known as a filmmaker. He co-directed Robert Rodriguez’s adaptation of his long-running comic Sin City (1991–present), which he followed with his own peculiar 2008 adaptation of Will Eisner’s classic comic series The Spirit (1942–52). In between, he executive-produced Zack Snyder’s hugely successful adaptation of his 1998 graphic novel 300. Hollywood’s current infatuation with super-heroics has served him well.

Most of Miller’s work, however, has been in comics, a medium he has helped revolutionize over the past twenty years. Since comics sadly remain an understudied and under-analyzed literary medium, I thought I’d take advantage of John Madera’s generosity—and your patience—to sketch out some thoughts about the form and importance of Frank Miller’s 1986 graphic novel Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.

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