Posts from 27th November 2005

Nov 05

WWE commentator Jim Ross

TMFD1 comment • 1,030 views

Since it’s petty irritation month over on Blog Seven, I’ll mention here some of the stupidities that annoy me from the wrestling commentator Jim Ross, known as JR. He is generally regarded as the best commentator (Mick Foley is very good on why in his autobio – mostly about helping sell the big moves, the twists, the blood), but anyone who does live commentary every week for many years will of course screw up on occasions.

The first pair are a case of hyperbole inflation, where you use an extreme trope, but because it has been overused, you have to try to beef it up some more, but that’s not easy, so you end up with lame reinforcement, which of course in fact undercuts it. The first is about the Undertaker:

“It’s your worst nightmare – to say the least!”

“Sean Michaels dodged a bullet there – a big bullet!”

Yes, bullets are scary and dangerous because of their size. The next is just getting your negatives wrong, but amused me. His emphasis:

“This man interrupts more special moments than anyone else. It’s a TOTAL LACK of DISRESPECT!”

But my favourite is this, largely because of his bizarre shouted emphasis, about the WWE champion, who you wouldn’t expect to be backing down easily:

“John Cena showing yet again that he isn’t intimidated by any man, woman OR CHILD on the face of the earth!”

Samurai Executioner (again)

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 563 views

I did a small item on this series when it started. I’m not sure how much it’s my state of mind and how much it’s the creative team of Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima finding their range, but volume 6 struck me as much the best yet, and one of the stories seems to me a genuine miniature masterpiece.

Japanese comic stories tend towards the long – an episode on a series might be as short as 20 pages, but very short serious stories are rare. ‘To Be A Sunflower’ here is preceded by a story of 105 pages, but itself runs to just 15. It has three scenes, and the first, of a man being let through the closed city gates at night, had my jaw dropping, and it never falters from there on, through the man’s crimes and his final encounter with the executioner around whom the series is centred. There is no name, personal history, friends or family, reason for his crimes, narrative of their sequence or how they started, nor how he is caught, tried and sentenced.

There’s not much of anything in it, but the control and judgement in what there is is magnificent. It’s a piece about tone, atmosphere, mood, expression, composition, line, light – the switch from the first two night scenes to the blazing sun in the final scene is breathtaking, and the first two-shot of our protagonist and his executioner is drawing as good as you’ll see in comics – as is the bleached-out penultimate panel, of the sword swinging.

Oddly, there aren’t so many genuinely great short-short stories in comics – the Feldstein/Krigstein ‘Master Race’ is justly celebrated, but this reminds me most in control and mood of my favourite war story, by Bob Kanigher and Alex Toth, called ‘White Devil, Yellow Devil’ (which you can find reprinted cheaply in Sgt Rock Special 8). You would imagine that the form, and the way comic publishing works, would be extremely well suited to this kind of miniature – but perhaps the craft and control demanded to make it work so well is in short supply, and all six of the creators mentioned here are very much the exception rather than the rule. Anyway, I now have a top three such pieces rather than a top two.

(Final note: unlike their subsequent series Lone Wolf & Cub (same creators, same era, same samurai subject matter), there is very little sequence to the Samurai Executioner stories, and not having read 1-5 will not mar your enjoyment of this volume at all.)