On Gabriel Garcia Marquez and My Journey as a Writer
A few days ago, Gabriel Garcia Marquez died. He was one of the prominent literary authors of the twentieth century. He was famous for his “magical realism”. The reason why I didn’t post anything until now is that I was focusing on the end of Lent and the coming of Easter. I have been meaning to tell you about a certain part of my background, and I figured that this news would make a decent way to segue into that.
As many of you know, I am a very seriously aspiring artist and writer. I remember being taught various novels and stories in school, particularly in high school. Part of me balked at the notion of serious literature back then, but part of me also wanted to learn quality writing from such works. As time went on and I came of age and started my adult hood, though, I began to think that I could and, in fact, should focus my talents to serious art. After graduating from college, I began to wonder where my exact calling was. I began to think that my calling was in prose literature.
Literature has been a source of inspiration to countless people for centuries. Literature has inspired cultures and arts. Literature has offered words of wisdom, truth, and beauty. I began to think that I could take part in literature. I hoped I could leave behind great literary works and leave my own mark. I hoped that I could create truly beautiful and substantial works to touch people’s hearts deeply. Thus I began to train myself as a writer of literary prose.
I read assorted literary works, primarily novels, to see how things can be written. I focused on works that I figured might appeal to me and might inform my style. Among them were, of course, the works of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I read the study-guides that accompanied those works so as to better understand how they are constructed and what those novels are telling me. I read books on the craft of writing fiction. I attended workshops at a nearby arts center. I also tried my hand at writing fragments to practice various skills and a few stories. I even had a few false starts in writing a sort of philosophical novel about cultural warfare and the human search for truth, love, and peace. Though I did not quite give up on learning skills for drawing, that endeavor receded far into the background. That might have contributed to a slowed development as an illustrator. In recent years, though, I began contemplating how my God-given talents might be put to appropriate use.
When I showed friends the pictures that I did post to the web, they told me that I might look into drawing comics. Yes, I’m talking about the literary form that is still somewhat underdeveloped and under-appreciated, though it has really been maturing and earning more respect over the past ten years or so. I knew that I had two sets of talents. I knew that I had two sets of gifts from God. I knew that I should put them both to good use. I knew that if I developed them both I had the potential to create splendid works. Thus I recommitted to learning to draw as well as write. Thus it is very likely that my exact calling is in graphic literature, i.e. comics. I hope that it does not sound pretentious.
Does that have any bearing on this blog, other than sharing more of my life’s experiences with you? Sooner or later I might actually download prose novels and stories to my Kindle as well. I might see if I can read them, take notes, and eventually type up Impressions and share them on the Weblog. In the meantime, may Gabriel rest in peace.
Impressions of Thor Comics
This evening I’ll share my impressions of some comics featuring the Nordic god of thunder himself, Thor. We’ve seen him in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Why not take a look at the Marvel comics that spawned him?
First I read through a collection of the very first Thor comics from the early 1960s. A handicapped doctor is hiking in Scandinavia when he enters a cave and finds a hammer that transforms him into Thor. Jack Kirby’s artwork holds up very well, with strong fundamentals, dynamic posing, and effective compositions within and among images. The writing, however, doesn’t. The cursory plots, basic characters, and hokey, often over-written dialog that are stereotypically associated with comics are present here. These comics were still worth a look.
Next I’ll share my impressions of the first two volumes of the new series Thor: God of Thunder. This is another series that Comic Book Girl 19 has recommended in her videos. The story arc in these two volumes centers on Thor’s millennia-long battle against an alien who has tortured and murdered deities throughout the universe.
The artwork is really nice, particularly with its rich, painterly colors. The graceful and dramatic compositions really drive home the actions and exchanges. The story jumps around massive stretches of time yet comes together in a way that I won’t spoil. The villain’s motivation turns out to be deep and touching and even Thor becomes as relatable as a super-powered deity can be. The plot never becomes terribly confusing and it becomes quite compelling as you follow through each chapter and page. God of Thunder is a solid cosmic fantasy. I might download another volume or two soon.
P.S. I know that it’s definitely off-topic, but I thought that I should take the opportunity to do this. I HAVE NOW LOADED THE SPACESHIP WITH THE ROCKET FUEL AND MADE MY FINAL EXIT, AND I HAVE TRAMPLED MY WAY BACK HOME TO PARTS UNKNOWN, BACK TO THE GODS ABOVE WHO HIT ME WITH THE POWER OF THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR, AND NOW I PASS THE POWER OF THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR DOWN TO ALL THE LOYAL FANS OF THE ULTIMATE WARRIOOOOOOOOOR! *SNORTS HEAVILY THEN AND SLOWLY EXHALES* Come to think of it, maybe the Ultimate Warrior could have played Thor, or at least some crazed Marvel superhero!
Impression of Captain America: The Winter Soldier
I wasn’t sure if I wanted to record a podcast for this blockbuster movie. As a matter of fact, I doubt that I have the time or energy to do so again, even for the so-called big events. It’s likely that from now on my podcasts will be reserved for more personal messages. I hope that you aren’t disappointed.
In any case, today Jason and I went to see Captain America: The Winter Soldier. This makes a really nice follow-up to The First Avenger, which itself is a solid cross between superhero movie and World War II movie. Make no mistake—the Captain is no longer in a simple battle against a Nazi officer. Something’s not quite right with SHIELD, the organization meant to protect people from super-powered threats.
The paranoid-conspiracy-thriller style of the story lends itself to a twisting, winding plot that goes to all sorts of places without seeming to be overly contrived. It might even make you think about what you are willing to compromise to either live safely or live freely. You also get to see how the complicated scenario challenges the Captain’s idealism for truth, justice, and the American way. Speaking of characters, they are all ably portrayed.
Of course, there are also the fancy effects and the action set-pieces. The gunfights, the explosions, the chases, the all-out melees, and the duels are wild. The climax with the giant flying machines is, quite naturally, a highlight. The mind boggles over what we’ll see in next year’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. In the meantime, let me just say that this movie is solid.
Impression of Young Justice
No, I don’t have a joke post for today. Not even a post about the Joker. Instead, I’ve typed up a post about Young Justice. I’ve heard good things about that series. Somehow I managed to find that I could in fact stream it from Netflix, so over the last two days I actually streamed all of the episodes listed. It’s about a group of younger superheroes who gather in a group that could be called the youth wing of the Justice League.
You can easily see the high production values in the fairly smooth animation and the slick, detailed, richly colored artwork. What made Young Justice enjoyable for me to watch, which is probably also what has earned it a fandom, was how the writing strikes a balance between tense superhero action and character-based drama. The interactions between characters can be just as interesting as the battle and chase sequences. The hints of the larger story arc and the ongoing subplots also led me to stay tuned. Many individual episodes’ stories are also well-constructed. I understand that there was one more season of Young Justice produced and aired—I might keep my eyes peeled for that to show up on Netflix.
Impression of Mystery Science Theater 3000
Mystery Science Theater 3000 is a series with a steady cult following and has been highly influential for comedic writers and performers since its debut. A man is sent into space and forced to watch cheesy movies. To keep himself company he builds robots and they all make wisecracks during full screenings of these movies. During today’s session of babysitting the dogs, I went ahead and streamed three episodes on Netflix: “Phantom Planet”, “Mixed-Up Zombies” (the full title of which reads like a parody of a b-movie’s title), and “Gamera vs. Gurion”.
The solid, naturalistic acting from the series’ recurring cast makes the wisecracks more effective. Not all of the one-liners or exchanges hit the mark, especially with some of the more arcane references, but most are quite clever. The subplots and varied skits in the wraparound segments are a mixed bag, as sometimes they seem to merely waste time.
Overall, though, honestly found this series as a whole to be a bit of a grind. The featured movies are banal and junky enough that even the riffing wasn’t enough to really make the experience much fun for me. In truth, I’ve had more fun sitting next to Jason at the theater, making occasional discrete remarks while watching potentially good movies. Maybe you might find this TV series more fun. Maybe I’m just not the right sort of viewer for this sort of thing.
Impression of Dilbert
How many of you remember Dilbert? At one point it was an extremely popular newspaper comic strip. It even had an animated television comedy. That’s what you’ll read about in this post. I saw that it was available for streaming on Netflix, so I bookmarked it for later. When I came home from a job interview today and babysat the dogs, I streamed a handful of episodes.
The series is about an office worker (who owns a smarmy, megalomaniacal talking dog) who gets iinvolved in very strange scenarios in and around his workplace. It has simplistic artwork based squarely on the comic strip and the animation is average but competent. The voice-acting is very good. Each episode has a rapid succession of silly, random gags within a wildly exaggerated plot poking fun at some aspect of corporate culture. It didn’t strike me as all that special or impressive, though I understand that some people really like this series and I can see the appeal, so maybe you might enjoy it more.