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Strange Attractions 2

The first Strange Attractions post seems to have amused. I’m guessing it was the wrestling foetuses that caught the eye. Nothing so lurid today, alas, but my attempt to convey the appeal of comic books continues. When Dave McKean’s graphic novel, Cages, first appeared, I wrote: “At 500 oversized pages and with a £50 price tag, Cages is a large and formidably expensive book; but one worth every inch and almost every penny.” Thankfully, the book is now available via Page 45 in its original, more affordable, US edition. Cages was McKean’s first major solo project and arguably remains his most ambitious. The overwrought prologue is probably best avoided, but the book has plenty of wonderful scenes – the alarmingly frail and wheezing removal man who slowly crumples out of sight beneath an enormous packing crate; and a butter-fingered mute who communicates with captioned cards until a hole in his pocket leads to a farce of malapropism and dislocated grammar. But I thought I’d share a more abstract moment, when, after 150 duotone pages, McKean deploys the first rush of colour.

Cages1 Cages2 Cages3  Cages4

More McKean here.

Comments

Matt M

The problem with comic books/graphic novels is that many people still think of them as lurid adventure stories aimed at teenage boys, the fact that many now have themes and narratives on a far more sophisticated level than your average TV show or movie hasn't seeped through to the popular consciousness yet.

I remember 'Newsnight Review' looking at the 2003 'Hulk' movie, where some of the reviewers were completely baffled by the presence of psychological themes in the story, assuming that they'd been tacked on by the film makers when in fact they've been a feature of the comic (so I'm told by people who know far more about these things than I do) since the 1980s.

David Thompson

Matt,

Well, to be fair, most comic books are “lurid adventure stories aimed at teenage boys.” Not that I see anything terribly wrong with that. And Ang Lee’s Hulk movie baffled most people. I think I described it as “a Freudian art-house B-movie.”

Franklin

I'm proud to say that I own the original Cages, which required keeping the faith during a fourteen-month hiatus between issues 8 and 9. A masterwork. I even dig the prologues.

The Ang Lee Hulk movie blew chunks. I think something similar is going to happen in Spider Man 3. I can hardly believe I'm saying this, but I'm actually looking forward to the new Ninja Turtles vehicle by comparison. I'll assuage my guilt with thoughts of Xeric grants.

David Thompson

Franklin,

If memory serves, the whole ten-issue series took about 6 years to complete. That’s patience. (“Where’s my damn spy camera?” etc.)

I rather liked Ang Lee’s Hulk, in a deeply ironic and postmodern way. It’s not a cinematic triumph, I grant you, and it’s by turns ponderous and silly. But I rather like the fact that it exists, as an exercise in oddity and confounded expectation. And some of the scenes are truly surreal. Hulk poodles, anyone? And that business with Talbot and the expanding foam? It’s priceless. What an image.

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