20th Cent

Dear J-

The other thing I’ve been obsessed with lately is comic books; I’ve been reading (and can recommend) Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys, now licensed and translated by Viz.  The complex plot and vast conspiracy unfolds slowly — here I can’t help but compare it to LOST, except without the annoying pacing deliberately designed to reward the most obsessive of fans (you know, the ones who stand up in panels and ask about the smallest continuity gaffes) — keeping me coming back for more; you want to dissect the smallest details in order to figure out clues to the shadowy villain “Friend.”

I still remember the hype that surrounded Stephen King’s IT when it came out in 1987; folks couldn’t stop talking about how thick it was, or how disappointed they were (you could almost draw a line there in his career, having transitioned from the taut thrillers of his early works to the overblown operatics of the middle period, save The Gunslinger — and that was written years before it was published)  IT is ultimately disappointing (a giant alien spider?  Really?) but there are echoes in 20CB; both stories flip back and forth in time between childhood and adults, showing how characters have grown and how they’ve been influenced.

Most media are focussed on evoking some kind of emotional response from the consumer; whether movie or TV or book.  The unique benefit of telling the story in graphic form lends to the mystery; early on we catch glimpses of the future — the apocalyptic future — strangely familiar and peaceful but knowing that the heroes have failed to stop the plot.  Could you sketch that in words?  Would it have been better to let the story unfold in a linear manner?  Some of my favorite stories — whether Watchmen or Final Fantasy VI — have plots that hinge on hope, with heroes who fail to expose evil in time, yet eventually prevail.  I suppose that the contrast between lows and highs increases the blacker you can draw the blacks.  Recommended.

Mike

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