There is no simpler plot: obsession and revenge. Yet Captain Ahab's
final voyage to settle a debt with God and a great white whale is one of
the great American novels.
There is no simpler style of art: uncluttered and minimalist. Yet
Will Eisner remains one of the most influential cartoonists of the 20th
century. At its creative peak, his innovative visual storytelling was
unmatched, and Eisner's technique continues to teach artists and writers
as it entertains his legions of fans.
His adaptation of Moby Dick even succinctly points out why comic
books and strips will never
equal the depth of the novel.
Huh?! You disrespecting comics, boy?
Melville's novel is not held in high esteem for its plot, but for
its depth of characterization,
philosophical and psychological insight into the human condition, and for
its meticulous and accurate historic detail. All three are missing from
Eisner's adaptation in various but obvious degrees.
Why? Is it because this master cartoonist simply hasn't the
under-standing or ability to transfer these things to the written page?
It is because the number of pages needed to delve into complicated
ideas in a comic book is financially restrictive. Despite the central
importance given to art by most comics fans,
art alone cannot quickly convey an intricate idea.
Oh, yeah!! Sez who!
Sez me. Draw this
sentence, art obsessed fan-boy. The belief in objective, absolute truth is
You had better give yourself lots of pages of art to do what those
eight words conveyed. Every art
form has its limits. Because he had 32 pages to tell his story, Eisner
correctly focused on plot.
Moby Dick is a minor work from a major talent that is still recommended as an introduction to a magnificent novel. For all ages.
Moby Dick/32 pgs., $15.95, cloth-bound from NBM Publishing/written by Herman Melville, adapted by Will Eisner/sold at comics/book shops and by mail at www.nbmpublishing.com
Review by Michael Vance
A friend of mine (who is a comics enthusiast) once gave his father
(who isn't) a work of sequential art to peruse, at which time his father
asked, "Is this another one a' them dang funny books?"
Something like that.
Later, good ol' Dad would hit his son up several times about
another installment of that entertaining book, which, at first, he didn't
even want to read.
There is comic book material out there to interest far more people
than are currently reading it. That
is one of the things this column is all about, broadening the
The creation? Doug Wildey's Rio.
Rio is a former gun-fighter, road agent, and train robber, who, in
the course of his many adventures, earns a full pardon for his crimes by
working a special assignment for President Ulysses S. Grant.
In his travels, he encounters other such historic figures as Jesse
James, and the Apache renegade, Geronimo.
The stories combine authentic western locales with interesting
characters, both served up with pretty-as-you-please pencils, inks and
Doug Wildey is not just another comic book artist, with all due
respect to comic book artists everywhere. His love of the Old West shines through
all of his Rio work. His work
on the subject has, in fact, been featured in numerous gallery showings,
such as the 1992 Nevada show entitled "The Best of the West."
Throughout the stories, however, it's difficult to determine what
really steals the show, Wildey's art, or his incredible knack for
characterization and story telling. Doug
Wildey was one of the medium's true treasures.
There are currently three Rio graphic novels available; Rio,
published by the now-defunct Comico Comic Company, Rio Rides Again, by
Marvel Comics, and Rio At Bay, from Dark Horse Comics.
Prices range from $6.95 to $9.95, with a page count of 60 to 70.
Comic shops, bookstores, and online searches can yield results in
locating these works. Locate
your local comic ship by calling 1-888-comicbook.
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