Five Things About Michael Chabon’s

1: Clay doesn’t have any amazing adventures
Okay, he maybe has the amazing adventure that many of us have, living in a big city, doing work you like, doing work you hate. But compared to escaping Prague with the Golem, or Joe Kavalier’s Arctic adventures, they ain’t amazing.

2: There is another Mysterioso
Perhaps it is just my Carter Beats The Devil timing, but what is it with these escapology themed books all of a sudden. And what is it with escapologists (at least here being hyper-fictional) called Mysterioso.

3: The comic-book history bits stand out a mile
Stand out in as much as Chabon is doing a “history bit”. Whilst this is interesting it is assuming (possibly rightly) the readers knowledge of thirties and forties comics to be nil. But what a history of comic books needs is pictures, and without them these history sections fail to come to life, just being facts, figures and dates. The crudity of some of these early strips would be useful to show just how easy it might be to revolutionise comics.

4: The appeals to cinema to explain how groundbreaking Joe Kavalier is
Following on to this assumption of ignorance of comics is the difficulty in explaining how great Joe’s comics are, and become. Instead his later issues of The Escapist and Luna Moth are compared to Citizen Kane in their complete mastery of the comic form. This gives the history of comics quite a problem, especially vis a vis the serious, dark comics he later makes in the fifties. If US comics has a Citizen Kane of its own, it rocks up in the late eighties (and is arguably Watchmen), the existence of genius such as Joe Kavalier skews the history segments.

5: The sense of loss inherent in talking about non-existent art
The problem with Chabon talking up these fantastic comics is that they do not exist. The 3000 page epic The Golem does not and will never existed (and even if it did, it would not be a patch on what is described in the book). What is compelling about the book is the characters, and also their creativeness. But it is like seeing a film or reading a book you haven’t seen yet in a dream. Nothing is there, and you wish it was. (Of course you can read The Escapist, but it isn’t THAT the Escapist, just a comic written by Chabon, as a comic written by Kavalier and Clay which would be fine if Chabon was a proven good comic writer, but, as yet, he isn’t).