Regarded as one of the greatest graphic-novel writers ever, Alan Moore (V for Vendetta, Watchmen) has delved into the world of biography with Unearthing, an expansive narrative art-book. With photography by Mitch Jenkins, Unearthing “maps the lifetime of author, orientalist, and occultist Steve Moore, while simultaneously investigating the extraordinary history of South London with which that life has been intertwined.”
“The Marvelous Dream”[audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Damon_Albarn_The_Marvelous_Dream.mp3|titles=Damon Albarn: “The Marvelous Dream”]
Brit-rock fans may have been more excited to learn that a Damon Albarn-fronted Blur has become an active prospect again, but fans of music in general should be more thrilled to know that he’s been up to a lot more than that. Albarn, as a solo artist and a collaborative one at that, has stirred up some amazing music by delving into Malian blues, scoring the Chinese opera Monkey: Journey to the West, and continuing his hip-hop cartoon group Gorillaz. Now he’s created the soundtrack to an opera based on the life of 16th Century astrologer/mystic John Dee — and it’s beautifully accessible.
Adorable, charming, Victorian, romantic, endorsed by Alan Moore — these are not the words that generally are used to describe a pornographic comic book. However, Jess Fink’s silent-movie-style erotic graphic novel is all of those, and it even features a robot, in a sci-fi twist.
Chester begins with the marriage of a young man and woman, and their disparity in bedroom tactics is immediately apparent. Unfortunately, the young wife is completely insatiable in the bedroom, and the husband is a bit of a prude, so her husband constructs a sex-bot, Chester, to perform his duties while he tends to work. The romantic and charming Chester does a better job than expected, however; the wife soon falls in love with him and sneaks off to have sex with the robot each day after her husband leaves.
Of course, they are caught, and the husband sells Chester to another woman. Chester and the wife pine for each other, and in one great scene, Chester and the husband fight for her love with mechanical attachments and a large hammer, respectively. Eventually, the husband learns the error of his ways, as well as his love for the woman who bought his robot, and, well, more sex ensues.
Before Daniel Clowes and Adrian Tomine, before Frank Miller and Alan Moore, and even before Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, there was Lynd Ward — America’s first, real graphic novelist. The terms “visionary” or “pioneer” could be applied to Ward, but the truth is that he was making graphic novels way before it was cool, and probably before it was even thought possible to create such a thing. Between 1929 and 1937, he dared to tell dramatic adult stories with just a series of woodcut images and his own vision.
Born in 1905 in Chicago, Ward lived through some of the most tumultuous moments of the 20th Century, most of which found a way into his dynamic, wordless picture books, now widely regarded as the origins of the modern graphic novel. His stories included sociopolitical commentary on the inter-war atmosphere of dread — the sinking American economy, the meteoric rise of European fascism, and the effect of swift industrialization on the self-hood of the worker — as well as more thoughtful matters, such as the whether or not the soul could survive in the modern age, or the price of artistic ambition and greed.
Holy collaboration — Mike Patton and Justin Broadrick are contributing to a score by Fog‘s Andrew Broder and Adam “Doseone” Drucker for a semi-autobiographical “photographic novel” by Alan Moore. Whoa.
In other news, The Dillinger Escape Plan has signed to Season of Mist, Eyedea & Abilities has a new album, two Rodriguez-Lopez brothers (not Omar) are releasing a debut full-length, and Múm will release a new disc in August. This and more is in the roundup.
How far can you stretch the weekend? We’ll try for five nights while watching the Watchmen, Irepress, …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, Dex Romweber Duo, The Lonesome Organist, and W.W. Lowman.