Sunday, 18 December 2011

'The Amazing Screw-on Head and Other Curious Objects' versus 'Century:1969'.

Good evening fight-fans! Tonight it's a straight-down-the-middle-one submission fist fight between these two heavy-weights of the comic book world. In the blue corner Moore and O'Neill's 'Century' series gets to 1969, having followed on from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, via Century:1910 to London in the (very) swinging sixties. In the red corner, is Mike Mignola's collection of 'short stories' - more occult based mystery and mayhem from the pen of the creator of such acclaimed works as Hellboy and BPRD.



Let's get ready to rumble!!!

Round 1 : The narratives.

OK so to begin with both are very occult laden. Both are a bit odd to say the least, although both have one foot in a kind of recognisable reality. Furthermore, I'd also say that to get the best out of both you do need a working knowledge of the authors' other works.
 Moore/O'Neill's story sees Mina, Allan and Lando investing an occultist of sorts, who appears to be trying to complete a ritual with a lead singer of a band in order that he can transfer into the lead singer's body. Meanwhile, Jackie C. a gangland 'troubleshooter' (Michael Cane anyone?) is on the search for the murder of a member of the same band, leading him in the same direction as our intrepid investigators. Throw in drugs/sex/supernatural beings and astral planes and you're half way there. There are strong links to a number of different cultural and textual references -but I don't feel it makes the plot too obscure. Though it does require patience.
Mignola too, does not shy away from a text replete with a variety of external references.You'll find Abraham Lincoln and a beanstalk stretching into the sky within these pages. The short story structure of the compilation helps keep the lateral thinking in check though. You can't befuddle the reader too much in only about 28 pages or less. Contained here are The Amazing Screwed-on Head (a kind of robot thwarting the Zombie Emperor), Abu Gung and the Beanstalk (a boy gets one over on the devil), The Magician and the Snake (A magician pays the ultimate price for his art), The Witch and Her Soul (the devil comes to claim his remuneration), The Prisoner of Mars (A professor's ghostly spirit saves the earth from invasion) and The Chapel Of Curious Objects (does what it says on the tin). Each one a kind of snapshot exploring small ideas - simply - with limited explanation. Take them for what they are.

Round 1 = Mignola on points.

I liked the madcap world of Moore's 1960s, but there is a subtlety to Mignola's story telling that's really engaging. (If rather tongue-in-cheek or even self-parodying in this volume). Sometimes Moore is a little like hard work and the short stories at the back of each volume are incredibly densely written and hard to 'penetrate' (he'd like that description though!).

Round 2 : The art I say, the art.

Both are fantastic. Both open up different perspectives on the comic genre. Both unique.
 O'Neill is allowed to let his imagination literally rum amok in the  psychedelic landscape of the 1960s and the drug imbibing that takes place. There is nakedness and sex fairly regularly and O'Neill has never shied away from that. His drawing is full on, to go hand-in-hand with the narrative.Colours are vivid, vibrant and enthusiastically realised. His art continues to remain refreshing after the banality of some of the Marvel/DC offerings you can often come across. I can still clearly remember Marshall Law and his earlier 2000AD masterpieces after all these years...
Mignola is similarly a comic art icon. His blocking of simple often dark colours, the unfussy lines of the drawings and the willingness to manipulate the sense of a frame and it's place on the page are all here - as we have come to expect.The vibrant colours are saved for the dramatic moments - blood reds, yellows and oranges add striking contrasts to the more supernatural or gruesome scenes. It's carefully constrained, sparingly detailed - yet wonderfully atmospheric and evocative.

Round 2  = Mignola (on this occasion)

I enjoyed both of these. If you like other work by this lot then you'll probably be getting these anyway. For me, the short stories of Mignola are slightly more successful. Sure, there's not quite the narrative drive of Moore's offering but the overall quality is still great - the hardback copy I have is a nice addition to the bookshelf too.


Post a Comment

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More

Design by Free WordPress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Themes | Sweet Tomatoes Printable Coupons