The Silent Majority

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The Escapists

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THE ESCAPISTS

Writer – Brian K. Vaughan

Artists – Steve Rolston, Jason Shawn Alexander, Philip Bond, Eduardo Barreto

Colourists – Dave Stewart, Matthew Hollingsworth, Paul Hornschemeier, Dan Jackson

Letterer – Tom Orzechowski

Cover – Alex Ross

Prestidigitator – Michael Chabon

“Comics will break your heart.”

Matt Fraction

THE ESCAPISTS is Brian K. Vaughan’s love letter to comics.

Inspired by Pulitzer Prize Winning THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER & CLAY by Michael Chabon, THE ESCAPISTS tells the story of Max, who inherits a basement full of Escapist memorabilia and enough money to buy the rights to his favourite golden age superhero icon, The Escapist. Setting out with best friend Denny and attractive redhead artist Case, the trio put together their Escapist book, allowing the character relief from obscurity. Through a risky publicity gimmick, their Escapist comes to national attention and begins the downward spiral from which our trio soon find themselves trapped.

Vibrant, cartoon artwork tells Max’s story with seamless transitions into the lush, noir story-telling of the trio’s Escapist comic runs parallel to the “real-world”, THE ESCAPISTS is a connecting read that will leave you involved with the characters, wondering how you will ever Escape.

The truth is, there is no Escape. This isn’t Brian K. Vaughan’s warnings against the corporate structure of comics and it’s not a how-to-guide for comics. It’s not a stern warning that there’s no way to Cheat and Win and no way to succeed without the sweat and ink and tears. It’s not an outline for how to break into comics, or to find success or even pull of the most meager of victories. It’s not about how to Escape your dreariness.

It’s about love. And how love is the challenge to free yourself.

The love of comics comes from the freedom that comics allow, the way that no other medium can–which is why we love comics. Comics do what no other medium can. They Escape form and convention, and the end we’re all just a bit better for it.

– – Timothy Legion

Timothy Legion is not presently read, looked to or admired. He created a newspaper (pamphlet) at his University that is fondly remembered by six people. He has not won any awards or been considered for nominations. He is wrist-deep in the Third Year of his self-imposed GLORIOUS FIVE YEAR PLAN.

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Written by thesilentmajoritysays

February 2, 2009 at 12:01 PM

The American Astronaut

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THE AMERICAN ASTRONAUT

Space is a Lonely Town.

That’s the only clue you get when you hold a copy of The American Astronaut, a lingering hint of what you’re in for. Displayed to you on the cover is the image of one Samuel Curtis (writer/director Cory McAbee), the astronaut in question, in a full space suit that looks like it was built out of the remains of several other, cheaper, space suits.

The story follows Curtis as he transports a young male stud (the aptly named ‘Boy Who Actually Saw a Woman’s Breast’) to the all-female planet of Venus. At his tail is the merciless ‘Birthday boy’ Professor Hess, whom has taken it upon himself to kill every person Curtis comes in contact with so he can forgive Curtis and then murder him. Along the way we meet deformed Nevadans in a homemade space-barn, tap-dancing barflies and an interplanetary fruit smuggler.

Oh. And it’s a musical.

To classify The American Astronaut as anything other than “fun” is exasperating. A Homeric Odyssey set in space with a western attitude, featuring stunning musical numbers, memorable characters, beautiful black and white cinematography, and colourful roughnecks from all corners of the galaxy.

And despite this initial description, the film is not the inconceivable mess one would assume it to be. Not weird for the sake of weird, more weird for the sake of itself. Written, within the vaguest realms of plausibility, insofar as it has its feet firmly planted in the seven or eight genres it belongs to at any given moment. It knows the power of a good song and dance number, and will deploy them when necessary. That is what sets The American Astronaut apart from other so-called surrealist cinema. Every shot of the film, despite its abstract eccentricities, feels sublimely necessary.

See? It is much easier to say “fun”.

Surrealism has very rarely been widely accepted as quality entertainment. Most people fail to grasp the notion of it, and associate it as little more than surreal distractions. Something done weird enough that someone, somewhere, will see and think is brilliant and/or hilarious.

Looking for genuinely well produced and well executed surreal entertainment is a challenge. Very often their audience is handed works that rely heavily on abstract images and themes in lieu of little things like ‘a good story’ or ‘witty dialogue’; things which The American Astronaut has in spades. It doesn’t make you feel stupid for enjoying it. You don’t need to lower your standards “get it,” nor will you need to take a film theory class to understand its symbols and methods. One may see the cover and not quite grasp the meaning of a phrase like ‘Space is a Lonely Town’, but at its core, this is the basis of how one can appreciate the film itself.

Maybe it isn’t supposed to make sense. Maybe it will only make enough as much sense as it needs to. And maybe you’ll like it anyway.

– – J.D. Renaud

J.D. Renaud has no formal education in film, but that is more than evident upon meeting and/or seeing him. A purveyor of all things eccentric, he prides himself on being a guinea pig test subject for any new form of media he is given. He currently lives in Winnipeg Manitoba with his go-go dancer roommate.

Written by thesilentmajoritysays

February 1, 2009 at 1:22 AM