SearchHomeContents PageSite Map
Nexus Graphica
by Mark London Williams

Other Nexus Graphica Columns
For more information, you can try the following:
Online iZombie prequel
Rabbi Harvey vs. the Wisdom Kid
Youtube video on the creation of Forget Sorrow
Belle Yang
Bertolt Brecht
The Escapist on more things Hit Girl
Recent Books of Interest

iZombie #1 by Chris Roberson (words) and Michael Allred (art) (Vertigo)
iZombie #1 Gwen lives in Eugene, Oregon, a young single woman with a lively social circle, despite working as a grave digger. "Lively," however, might be the wrong word, inasmuch as her circle is comprised of ghosts, werewolves, vampires, and other night creatures who may or may not care that they're living in the shadow of Nike shows, old growth logging, and Ken Kesey's legacy. This is your new, post-Twilight Oregonians, and indeed, Roberson seems ready to set us up for a broad satire not only of things cultural, but of the "branding" and marketing of monsters, as well. Did I mention that Gwen is a zombie, by the way? She needs to eat a brain of month to retain an outward sheen of "normalcy," but the only problem is, she's left with that new brain's memories. And thus driven to settle scores with old, well, ghosts. Though I mean that metaphorically, the second time around. Sort of. In any case, it's lots of fun -- perhaps just in time for summer -- and Apple has not sued for the small "i" in front of the title yet, either, so grab your soon-to-be-collectible copy now, before they do!

Rabbi Harvey vs. the Wisdom Kid by Steve Sheinkin (Jewish Lights)
Rabbi Harvey vs. the Wisdom Kid What better time to write a Rabbi Harvey review than after coming home from Shabbat services? (Hmm... should be computer even be on!?) Sheinkin's affectionate take on Talmudic and other Jewish folk tales, reworked and re-set in the 19th century Rockies, is practically an "alternate history," with predominantly Jewish enclaves among the mining towns of the gold, silver, and fur-boom eras. And here disputes are settled not with Colts or Winchesters, but with parables and reason! At least, they are while Rabbi Harvey is dispensing advice, Lucy van Pelt-style, until he is challenged by a young upstart Rebbe, who is a little too glib, and -- yes! -- is part of a plan engineered by his mother, the "Bad Bubbe." What would Philip Roth make of that? For the first time, Sheinkin gives us a book-length tale -- with the reworked parables and folk tales in service of a larger plot, rather than the other way 'round. And with his still Sepia-esque, still woodcut-influenced style (makes sense when the setting is high timber!) the ride -- on a horse, even! -- is every bit as enjoyable in this third volume as it was last time out.

Forget Sorrow: An Ancestral Tale by Belle Yang (Norton)
Forget Sorrow: An Ancestral Tale At first glance, this volume wouldn't appear to represent any particularly new turf for the graphic novel, representing as it does the crossover of a renowned children's artist into comic panel territory, in order to tackle a memoir. But just as traditional book publishing did -- and does -- sustain a model for many different kinds of non-fiction remembrances and witnessing, so too in graphic novel land is there always room for any engaging retelling of histories, human sorrows and consequence, etc. Here, the Carmel-based Yang uses her own story -- a young daughter phased by college and even more by a psychotic, stalking Ex -- retreats to her family home where her parents -- her father especially -- regard with some scorn for the mired state of her life. It's in getting her father to open up about his travails -- born in China, his escape and eventual arrival in America, and more importantly, the operatic (and in one case, King Lear-like) stories of his family (and hers) heading into the 20th century, and its numerous upheavals. Coming, as it does, so many years after the not dissimilar Maus (or Persepolis) the type of story may not be a surprise in comics form, but it is certainly engaging and large-hearted enough to make you look forward to Yang's next project.

Time of the Hit Girl

Chloe Moretz
Brad Pitt in Inglourious Basterds
So we're following up -- expanding upon? -- the last column's thoughts about Kick-Ass, both the movie, and -- to a certain extent -- the comic. The first question might be: do I mean my last column, a month ago, or Mr. Klaw's?, and the answer might be both.

Mine was more specific, then Rick took the reins to survey the live action superhero comic in the modern film-and-digital era. Which kind of brings me back to Kick-Ass. I know -- three NG's in a row on movies; it must almost be summer, right? Well, I promise a more eldritch topic -- pre-dating the whole Edison/Muybridge moving pictures thing --next time out.

So back to Kick-Ass. I mentioned last time that I liked it more than I didn't -- it's pretty fun stuff, but the main reason I liked was because of Hit Girl. (I won't recap the whole story again here directly, cause most of you already know it...)

But what is it I like about Hit Girl?

Well, Chloe Moretz plays her with a precocious vivaciousness (how's that for a phrase?) only hinted at in the comic. One wonders how and why Millar originally concocted her for the Marvel series the flick is based on.

I haven't read a lot of Millar, but he strikes me as kind of like the comics version of Quentin Tarantino -- a highly talented creator who seems to be more informed by his medium than by, say, actual life or events around him. They aren't the only two, but they share a kind of "I'm such a bad boy!" ethos in terms of how far they can go (mostly with violence) in that given medium. And the violence, being cartoony in both instances, allows a certain distance from the consequences, and therefore a hipster proclamation of its coolness.

But within those constraints (which, of course, are imagined as not having constraints -- hence the exploration of cool new terrains of violence, though you become mandated to try and top yourself each time) insights are often reached: In Tarantino's case, for example, Inglourious Basterds becomes an examination of the role of cinema in affecting our "real world" views, and the call-and-response between the two, whether the director -- who now scores his films with music and cues from other movies, amping up the artificial movie-ness (gee, maybe all along he has been a Brechtian?)

In Millar's case, one of my favorite works of his is Wanted (yes, I am specifically referring to the comic series, and decidedly, not the movie), which takes as its premise "what if the super-villains won?" What would the world be like then? Where it hits a deeper chord that perhaps Millar intended (in most good art -- whether stories, paintings, performance -- the creator is more usually a conduit for something larger than she consciously knows) is that the book became a kind of brilliant critique of the Bush/Cheney "aughts."

The bad guys had, in fact, won, or rather, since the comic's premise was that they'd won a long time ago, but they needed the world to keep shambling along in its agreed upon obliviousness (in exchange for a high-def TV screen, don't ya unnerstand) so that systems could keep functioning. The book takes place when the agreements between bad guys fall apart, and the veil starts to be lifted a little.

And so, too, the "aughts." So in spite of the teen boy thrill Millar must've gotten from the last panel in that series, it was, in its comic icon-y way, thought provoking stuff. And remains one of my favorite comic superhero works of the last decade or so.

The Rosetta Stone moment for me in Kick-Ass comes in the final installment of the comics version, when Hit Girl and Kick-Ass have improbably invaded the main mobster's headquarters, and she's been briefly captured, and is starting to be savagely beaten (an unpleasant thought -- and image). The boss tells her she must've been crazy all along, because -- and I'm paraphrasing here "kids can't beat grown-ups; the grown-ups will always win."

Well, that's it right there -- that's the nerve Hit Girl taps into. The same both Thelma, and Louise, tapped into a female wish fulfillment for a violent response to all the male violence visited on women, so Hit Girl taps into our nagging suspicion that children are fully entitled -- fully -- to kick the ass of the so-called "grown up" world.

Consider the track record of those in charge of the world -- i.e., "grown ups" -- and what sort of future they're leaving: repeated wars, spending on repeated wars (religious wars, nation state wars, "drug wars" you name it) to the exclusion of spending on, well, schools or any program, really, that might benefit, educate, or provide nutrition to kids; institutionalized (and when it's not, all-too-pervasive) molestation of kids, in some quarters; and perhaps the capper -- a biosphere continually under assault, from the weather, to, well the water.

It's grown-ups busy killing off the Gulf of Mexico for decades to come, as I write this.

Who wouldn't want to kick their asses, entirely, for fucking things up so spectacularly? And all without a say from the kids!

I believe it was Fritz Perls, founder of Gestalt Therapy, who observed "we are all deteriorated children."

In the case of Hit Girl, then, she's not going down -- or "up" to adulthood -- without a fight. And somewhere deep inside, it's probably the same fight our own kid selves wanted to take to the world that's been left to us.

Copyright © 2010 Mark London Williams

Mark London Williams writes the Danger Boy time travel series, which is currently being developed for a screen incarnation. He wonders when the dominant paradigm is going to get its ass kicked, and gets Twittery @mlondonwmz

SearchContents PageSite MapContact UsCopyright

If you find any errors, typos or other stuff worth mentioning, please send it to
Copyright © 1996-2014 SF Site All Rights Reserved Worldwide