And books

GOYA by Robert Hughes does a good job chronicling the life and work of the deaf Spanish painter who overcame Spain’s crushing religious orthodoxy and cultural backwardness to become an art master. Knowing little of Goya beyond The Sleep of Reason Brings Forth Monsters, I was surprised to see how much of Goya’s work was conventional portraiture, though other work, such as his Disasters etchings, are certainly powerfully dark. A good job capturing Goya’s life and world.
BLACK SEA by Nicholas Ascherson recounts the history of the Black Sea region and the cultures who’ve populated its shores, from Scythians, Samartians and Khazars to traditionalist Jewish sects (“In trying to return to a purified Judaism, they appeared to some observers to have become Christians.”) through expat Poles and Greeks. While lots of interesting information, Ascherson has the travelogue tendency to go wandering off out of the nominal topic and the lack of more than one or two maps is a huge drawback in a book such as this.
For me REINVENTING COMICS is the least interesting of Scott McCloud’s books on the medium: Understanding Comics and Making Comics had a lot to say that relates to non-comics creating but this one focuses much more on comic books——the state of the industry, the potential for online comic-books, and (inevitably) how far short McCloud thinks they fall from their potential——and so had less to say to me. Given my interest in the other two though, I imagine an aspiring professional might find it useful.
BPRD NEW WORLD: Hell on Earth introduces the new status quo following the defeat of the frog plague in The King of Fear. The BPRD is now an arm of the UN,and with the walls between our world and that of the monsters torn, new horrors are constantly popping up (one character concludes that like crime, supernatural horror is now part of life). The particular challenge involves a sinister baby and its big brother (very Dunwich Horror), the return of former member Captain Daimio and the BPRD threatening to fracture over the cast’s personal agendas. Very good.
THUNDERSTRIKE: Youth in Revolt has the son of Marvel’s 1990 hero Thunderstrike reluctantly assuming his father’s power despite his conviction super-heroes are either idiots (his dad) or poseurs (everyone who failed to save him). This has a great, though short-lived adversary in Adam Mann, a phenomenally accomplished millionaire convinced that since he’s not a mutant, his success proves he’s the son of a god——and he intends to find dad and work out his father issues. Plus the immortal line “I’ll have you know my armor designer was a finalist on Project Runway!” Fun.
LUCK: The Brilliant Randomness of Everyday Life by Nicholas Rescher is a reflection on the oddities of luck that has some sort of story stirring in my brain, though I’m not sure what yet. Rescher points out the different kinds of luck (being born rich, being born into a good environment, having good things happen to you), the fact it’s not a zero-sum game (if a terrorist blows himself up on the way to an attack, that’s bad luck for him but possibly good luck for dozens of others) and that you can be lucky even when the odds are in your favor (e.g., surviving Russian roulette). I don’t know where I”m going with all that, but I’m going somewhere.

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One response to “And books

  1. Pingback: Another piece of the puzzle? « Fraser Sherman's Blog

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