Saturday, July 17, 2010

ho, ho! what's this?

Today was the family's weekly pilgrimage to local public library. One of the sections I regularly peruse whilst there is the comic book shelves. I am always amazed by how much good stuff they have in terms of graphic novels, trade paperbacks and other combinations of word and image. On this visit I snatched up What It Is by the always awesome Lynda Barry, a mysterious volume called The Number 73304-23-4153-6-96-8 which I selected solely based upon the enigmatically numeric title, and A Dangerous Woman: The Graphic Biography of Emma Goldman. I'm not really sure who Emma Goldman is, but I've been on a bit of a comic-biography kick. Recent visits to the library found me borrowing graphical bios on J. Edgar Hoover, Malcom X, Ronald Reagan and the Dalai Lama.

As I'm leaving the section to go look for something in the fiction section my eye catches a quick glimpse of a rather thick volume with a familiar name emblazoned thereon.  Dig it:

I already knew that Zak S., the criminal mastermind behind DnD with Porn Stars (NSFW, duh) and "I Hit It With My Axe", was a serious artist by day.  And I already knew that he had done a series of works, one for each page of Gravity's Rainbow, that was something of a hit in the art world.  But I didn't know he had a book deal or that the book had reached the provincial backwaters of central Illinois where on online friend of his could stumble across a copy.  The world is full of strange connections.  Even finding this work in the funny book section is a bit of a puzzler, because as far as I can tell this isn't graphical fiction in any sense.  It looks to me like one would need a copy of Pynchon's novel to make narrative sense of the images.

So I checked out Zak's book and Gravity's Rainbow.  I need two more 700+ books on my reading list like I need another hole in my head, but I think sometimes you need to listen to the signals the universe sends you.


  1. I got two other books out, too.

    (This concludes the self-promotion portion of our broadcast.)

  2. Congratulations.

    You've just fallen down the deepest and best rabbit hole of 20th Century American literature.

    Yeah, *screw* Nabokov.


  3. Anonymous5:56 AM

    Emma Goldman was a russian-american anarchofeminist. Have fun with the comic :)

  4. Emma Goldman is the woman responsible for the quote: "If I can't dance to it, it's not my revolution."

  5. Synchronicity, man. In which direction is your life about to turn.

  6. Anonymous10:23 PM

    That s a hellacool public librarian you have, there ... I recall some really graphic, crazy scenes in that novel ... Not to be too much a spoiler, but it's the completely twisted sex scenes that really set the tone of desperation in pynchon's war epic ... If zak has managed to match that with visuals, you are probably lined up for some erotic PTSD.

  7. The local Santa Monica Libraries (and overall LA libraries for that matter) have really stepped up with the graphic novel sections the last couple of years. Lots of goodies!

    I think all the Hollywood treatments of graphic novel properties has something to do with the popularity (you can almost always find copies of 300, League of Ext. Gentlemen, History of Violence, etc.)

  8. A graphic novelisation of Emma Goldmann's life?! Do tell more...

  9. Boring comics theory time: If Zak's images construct a narrative, and I'd guess they do from the title, then yes, it's a comic. The interesting thing will be if, stripped of the text, the images create the same narrative as the original book does; has Zak created an adaptation or a translation? My guess (again) is that it's the latter.

  10. You can see them online here:

    ...though there's one hell of an annoying pop-up ad...

    Zak: Stumbling across these illos made me actually read GR... Thanks!