Posts from 8th September 2008

Sep 08

Comics: A Beginner’s Guide: Earliest Superheroes

The Brown Wedge2 comments • 740 views

Frankly, there wasn’t so much in the early years of superhero comics that holds up well now. Jack Kirby’s early work, including Captain America, is worth a look, but he got much better later on. There’s some good art on some of DC’s ’40s heroes – notably some early Alex Toth (Black Canary is his best of that era, I think), Joe Kubert and Carmine Infantino here and there, and some nice work from Sheldon Moldoff on Hawkman and Jack Burnley on Starman, for instance. Elsewhere, C.C. Beck’s childlike Captain Marvel comics, and Mac Raboy’s art on Captain Marvel Jr, hold up pretty well. These are all hard to find, as is Lou Fine’s lovely art on Doll Man or The Ray for Quality.

Lou Fine is the artist Will Eisner always talked about most – Fine had worked on Eisner’s The Spirit, which is perhaps the best comic work of that era. It ran in a newspaper supplement, 7-page strips from 1940-1952. Eisner was an immensely accomplished and expressive cartoonist, who also had a talent for memorable characters, including some femmes fatale to match Caniff, and tightly wound short stories, but I think his biggest contribution to the comics of the time was his sense of design, which was like nothing else seen in comics then, and rarely matched since. His splash pages in particular are often highly original and memorable. One warning: there is a comedy black kid in it, and Ebony obviously looks rather distasteful all these decades later.


THE BEE GEES – “Tragedy”

FT + Popular46 comments • 6,694 views

#434, 3rd March 1979

The Bee Gees at this point were surely the world’s biggest act: “Tragedy” sounds it, absurd explosion noises and all. It’s a disco epic to file alongside tracks like the Jackson’s “Can You Feel It” but also it’s pop at its most maximalist, a cousin to the largest productions of Steinman, Horn, Martins Max and George – or at the other end of the quality scale, the sickly pomp of a Be Here Now.

Pop on this Roman scale doesn’t seduce, it bludgeons, and you either feel the blow or duck it. For me “Tragedy” is impressive, dramatic, thoroughly enjoyable but not really as effective as the earlier Bee Gees disco tracks – it’s missing the glide of “Night Fever”, the swagger of “Staying Alive”, the paranoia of “You Should Be Dancing”, and replacing them with scale, which doesn’t always age so well. To be sure, somewhere in “Tragedy” there’s an astonishing song capturing a soul – and an era – in meltdown. But I have to stretch to feel it, it doesn’t come over for me naturally, except perhaps in the Gibbs’ panicky falsettos on the chorus, pitched close to unbearable. Though for all that, “Tragedy” has an undeniable decadent power.


FT3 comments • 903 views

16. Kicks Like A Mule – The Bouncer

As previously mentioned, I was eager to experience the world of clubbing from an early age. But despite this pre-teen enthusiasm, I didn’t enter my first proper nightclub until I was a disappointingly legal eighteen years old. Our regular Lower School Discos not only didn’t sell intoxicating substances but were horrendously uncool to actually dance at (unless it was with Andrew Tomlinson – and I had zero chance of managing that).


Slugs on parade

FT + The Brown WedgePost a comment • 127 views

The slugs of time ooze back onto your radio dials tomorrow night at 10pm! The frequency you’ll need to tune into is the perpetually double-booked Resonance FM 104.4 in London, which also does a live web stream. If you miss it however – FEAR NOT. After each show airs, we’ll be tacking these new episodes onto the podcast, which you can subscribe using either of these links (iTunes users should choose the iTunes link). You can also listen to them right from your web browser whenever you like.

Subscribe with iTunes

For those unfamiliar with A Bite of Stars, a Slug of Time, and Thou, it’s an exhumation and revivification of old avant-garde and speculative science fiction short stories, hosted by MARK SINKER and ELISHA SESSIONS and a studio guest. Elisha reads the story for you at the front of the programme and then it gets talked about. Our M.O. is respectful frivolity and enthusiasm — we’re not sci-fi experts and we don’t need you to be either. more »