Mythology – A work of Art!


Hey folks of the ether,

I’m a long-time listener, first-time blogger, so be kind! But anywho, my good friend W.C. (snigger)G. [Web Comic Geek for those a bit slow on the up-take] has asked me to contribute something to the world (bit like my grandmother does on a regular basis) by posting my worthless ramblings on his blog. Therefore, several glasses of cheap white wine in (and I mean cheap! You know the stuff, comes in a box that refuses to be glued together and, regardless of how long you put it in the fridge, will always remain 0.5 degrees above room temperature!) and I’m ready to go.

At this point I feel I should point something out – I’m not particularly well-read, either in the massive comic-book or general literature genres. Therefore, my thoughts and theories are based on my very limited exposure to all things graphic-y and novel. However, as our host Geek-meister is responsible for exposing me to a world of Superheroes and Supervillainy beyond that represented by the movies and TV shows from the 1960’s to early 90’s, I feel I owe it to the old-timer (hell, I may have been Darth Vader to his Boba Fett in our formative years, but he was definitely Alfred to my Bruce Wayne – in that he taught me how to shave at least!), so, rather than leap in feet-first with my thoughts on Superman Returns, I thought I’d start with Mythology: the D.C. art of Alex Ross.

I got Mythology as a birthday present from somebody I barely know (but, as it freakishly turns out,I share a lot of tastes with in terms of films, literature and all that jazz), so it came as a genuine pleasant surprise! Shockingly enough, I had never previously considered the artist’s influence on the overall impact/success of a comic. For me the story had always been paramount – that’s what made a great comicbook and the art was a bonus if it was good – afterall, surely Superman was Superman or Batman was Batman, regardless of how they are pictorally represented -It’s the character mythos that counts (shows my niaivity I know)!

Anyway, Mythology sucked me straight in and within minutes, like the Fresh Prince, my life was flipped, turned upside down! This was because, coincidentally, many of the graphic novels I was first introduced to (by W.C.G) were some of Alex Ross’ best works, including Superman, Batman and J.L.A – especially Kingdom Come! I was immediatetly struck by Alex’s photo-realistic style which I hadn’t really appreciated previously. But, seeing his interpretations of illustrations from both the golden and silver ages, I was stunned by how much weight, power and emotion he was able to give to otherwise 2-dimensional characters.

But, Mythology is more than just an egotistical homage to Ross’ published work, it also show’s his development from a (gifted) child to the artist he is today. There are examples of his college work, where he explored and researched human anotomy, that would eventually develop into his signature style. There are examples of how his parents have influenced his vision and works and, perhaps most importantly for a novice to the genre, there’s a step-by-step guide to the process he uses to capture and refine his art.

To cut a long story short, this book is a great introduction to the world of comics. Not only does it highlight the theory, talent and clear dedication it takes to reach Ross’ level, but there is also a wealth of fantastic illustrations to keep even the most shallow of obsevers turning the pages. As I said earlier, this book has really made me re-evalute my relationship with comics. More than that, it has re-ignited a fascination with the darker and deeper side of some of comics’ greatest character creations – something that I’d all-too-easily forgotten thanks to Hollywood’s recent whizz-bang, but still sanitised offerings.

As an amateur voyeur at best in this genre all I can say is that, while it may not be deepest, most profound exploration of the artist-character relationship, which may leave your comicbook veteran a little deprived, I do think that this is one of the best introduction to the comicbook world going. Not only does it inform, it also empowers – Hell, thanks to this book I even managed to engage my 40-something brother-in-law in several discussions about some of comics’ greatest characters and how the universe goes so much further than Hollywood’s or TV’s portrayals. Something that not even Kevin Smith’s Brodie Buce had enabled me to do (converstions about Kryptonite condoms can only get you so far!)

So, with the wine glass, as large as it is, almost empty, I shall now end my diatribe in order to refill it. No doubt there will be comment on either my thoughts or (lack of) prose style. Regardless, I look forward to hearing from you.

Keep the faith,

Jim42

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  1. Excellent review mate and the autobiographical detail is great though I’m not sure I appreciate being compared to Alfred. Never mind. Welcome aboard mate, your reviews are already better than mine.

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