Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Moebius' Airtight Garage issue 1

The Airtight Garage of Jerry Cornelius
by Moebius
Issue 1, July 1993
Epic Comics

The English translation of The Airtight Garage of Jerry Cornelious (Le Garage Hermétique de Jerry Cornelius) first appeared in the September, 1977 issue of Heavy Metal, as a prequel of sorts titled 'Major Fatal'. 

The series proper launched in the October,1977 issue and ran till the April,1980 issue.

No other comic serialized in the pages of Heavy Metal was as widely touted as 'Garage'. Its almost-plot, meandering nature, and stunning visuals made it a favorite for the segment of the HM readership with ready access to pot........which I did not have. So maybe that's why I always found 'Garage' to be somewhat underwhelming. 

My lack of enthusiasm probably also derived from the fact that the HM editors insisted on publishing 'Garage' in the same way as it originally appeared in Metal Hurlant in 1976 - 1979: as tiny (sometimes just two pages) installments. By releasing it in such truncated fashion, the editors guaranteed that the series' already disjointed, free-form presentation was even more fragmented.

After appearing in HM, the series was reprinted as a graphic novel, Moebius 3: The Airtight Garage in 1987 by Marvel's Epic Comics imprint. Copies of that graphic novel in good condition have asking prices of $83............

In July 1993, Epic released 'Garage' as a four-issue, colored comic book. Along with the comic proper, Moebius also contributed some additional, one-page illustrations that were placed at the end of each issue. 

These older Epic comic book issues can be obtained for reasonable prices.

Some changes were made to the story appearing in the Epic series; the references to 'Jerry Cornelius' all were changed to 'Lewis Carnelian', apparently to avoid risking a lawsuit with Michael Moorcock.

Being able to read the entire 'Garage' series in these four comics definitely helps. The plot remains only partially coherent, which is maybe for the best, but when seen in its entirety, it makes much more sense than it did when first serialized in Heavy Metal or Metal Hurlant

I'm going to be posting all four issues of the 1993 comic books here at the PorPor Books Blog. 

Moebius's artwork is very impressive in its meticulous detail.However, one drawback to the comic is that the dimensions of the original artwork are drastically shrunk to meet the page size and formatting of the American comic book, giving the art and lettering a cramped, tiny appearance. 

As well, the decision to color the comic version of 'Garage' using a flat, early-90s comic book palette - and a large team of five (!) Colorists -  tends to detract from the clarity of Moebius's pencil work........
In any event, here is the first of the four installments of 'Airtight Garage'.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Manos habiles

(skillful hands)
by Joan Boix

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Jack Kirby's The Forever People

Jack Kirby's Forever People
DC Comics, 1999

After two years of 'secret' negotiations with the DC Comics editorial staff, in 1970 Jack Kirby left Marvel and joined DC, where he was allowed to create several new series of his own. One of these was The Forever People, which debuted in March, 1971. The series lasted for 11 issues, until November 1972, when it was canceled.

This 1999 trade paperback compiles all 11 issues of the series, rendered in graytone; some four-page shorts Kirby produced as fillers; and a cover gallery.

In his Introduction, former Kirby aide Mark Evanier relates that, although he was 53 years old at the time he joined DC and began composing his 'Fourth World' franchise, Kirby was well aware of the so-called 'Generation Gap' then roiling American society. The Forever People was Kirby's way of portraying younger people in a sympathetic light, as well as promoting a subtle social commentary that touched on the presence of corruption and vice in the 'older' generation ruling society. 

The Forever People were a team of five superpowered denizens of New Genesis who came to Earth for adventure and to right wrongs. They consisted of Big Bear, the quintessential 'hippy'; Vykin the Black; Mark Moonrider; Serafin, a kind of updated version of the Kid Colt character Kirby had illustrated in his old Atlas / Timely days; and Beautiful Dreamer, the 'token' girl member. The team traveled using their unique 'super cycle' and a portable computer called 'Mother Box'.

The main adversary for the Forever People was Darkseid, the nihilistic ruler of Apokalips who sought to turn the Earth's population into his slaves.

After a lengthy arc involving Darkseid, the series changed course with issue 9, one in which DC's management had asked Kirby to involve Deadman in an effort to spark some commercial interest in that character. According to Mark Evanier's Introduction, Kirby was less than happy with being asked to portray Deadman in 'The Forever People', and his script keeps the character in the background.

How does The Forever People hold up, some 46 years later ? To be fair, it was released in the Silver Age of comics, and like many of the comics of that era, particularly those which adhered to the Comics Code, its plot will seem rather tame to modern-day readers. 

It doesn't help matters much that Kirby, as a middle-aged man, was not entirely in synch with the youth culture of the day - his use of phrases like 'she's a groove !', and words like 'uncool', however sincere in their effort to capture the youth culture of the early 70s, were unconvincing at the time, and are even more so today.

Where The Forever People does still shine is in Kirby's artwork, ably inked by Mike Royer. The comic represented a chance for Kirby to show what he could do when he was allowed to work on his own intellectual property, and the panels in The Forever People have an energy and verve that takes the 'classic' Kirby style and does a little bit more with it. It's all the more impressive to realize that Kirby was drawing several different titles for DC at this time, and his workload was significant.

So, who will want to pick up this compilation of The Forever People ? Kirby fans will of course want a copy, although I suspect that they also will wish that DC releases a color version printed on quality stock paper. Until such a time as this happens, used copies of The Forever People are creeping up in price with each passing year......I might suggest getting a copy sooner, rather than later, if you are interested.