Thursday, December 22, 2011

One Fateful Day

Thursday Story Strip Day.

I don't think many of my blog followers will read Dave Sim's Glamourpuss somic book serie. With Cerebus, he created a 300 issue epic stoy about an aardvark caught in the batlle between men and women (among other things). Toward the end of the run, Sim was much maligned for his opinions about women and worse, his 14 year creation was sort of gforgotten. Still, what he did in those 6600 pages is simple remarkable. Not only from a publishing point of view (doing a monthly creator-owned book for all that time), but also as a comic book artist. He merged influences by Will Eisner, Neal Adams, Frank Miller and Barry Eindsor-Smith into a storytelling souplesse that no one can match. In the process, he found many new ways to compose a page or tell a story. Any one of the 'telephone book' collections that are still availeable have my recemondation.

Recently he started doing Glamoupuss, in a similar format to Cerebus. Black and white, appearing regularely. The title of the book drags it down, in my opinion. He created the Glamourpuss character as a parody of the superwoman/supermodel culture, that in his opinion exploits women while it pretend to empower them. That gag became old after the second issue, but somehow he still manages to fill half of every issue with it. For the other half, he decided to do a line by line examination of the photorealistic style, a sort of documentary in comic book form. Again, he invent new ways to use comic books and comic book imagery to tell a whole new story. He starts out describing the start of the photorealistic style with Alex Raymond. Okay, he leaves out the part where actual photorealistic illustrators 'invent' the style in the late thirties when they are asked to reproduce their magazine drawings in line form for advertisements, as you can see in many instances of my blog. But he does do a very good job of describing the developement of the newspaper strip version, started by Raymond and carried on by others, such as Stan Drake, Bob Lubbers and Neal Adams. While he does that, he does not use actual illustrations, but he redraws them to tell us what he can learn from that. Fascinating stuff, if you are into such a thing.

But then he sort of lets himself get carried away by one particular story and it becomes even better. For the last ten or twenty issues, Dave Sim has been retelling the story of the car accident that has killed Alex Raymond. On Spetember 6, 1956, Raymond decided to visit his collegue Stan Drake. Drake had just bought a new sports car. Alex persuaded Drake to let him have a go at the wheel. The car went of the road an Raymond got killed. DRake, who was not wearing a seatbelt, got flung from the car and survived. In his still unfinished new masterwork, Dave Sim tells this story from every angle possible, as only he can. He takes every bit of information he can find and examines it to see what it can tell us about that eventful day. Why would Raymond visit Drake, who were not friends? What would they have said to each other? Why would Drake have agreed to go on a trip? At eighty pages and counting this has gone long beyond a simple examination of the facts. This is an attempt to see how far circumstancial evidence can take you. This is a prime example of an actual method of historic science, where you try to describe averything that was happening at the time of the evnet you are trying to get your head around, to see what the world around it can tell you. My wife is a historian and we have a few actual books doing that with events from the 17th century. I don't think Sim know about this, he is just folowing his own obsessive-compulsive impulses, but it is fascinating to see anyway.

So if you are not reading that, you are doing yourself a disservice. But rather than going out to get back issues, I suggest you wait for the compilation that sure must follow this, once Dave Sim has reached the end of his thread.

Anyway, one of the things Dave Sim mentions, is the fact that after the accident The Heart of Juliet Jones was hastily taken over by Bob Lubbers, while Drake was recuperating in hospital. Lubbers also did his own Sunday and Weekly strip Long Sam at the time, but it was not the last time he was doing two strips at once. And maybe he had someone else (Bob Oksnr?) helping out on Sam. Sim also mentiones that Drake was the obligated six weeks ahead on Juliet. This means, that the first Lubbers dailies should appear somewhere around october 20. As it happens, a new storyline starts on Sepember 10. In november, we can clearly see Lubbers coming in. But I am not sure with what daily his work begins. I am representing the whole story in two days. If all goes well, I will have the rest tomorrow.

By the way, if you want to read this story and more in a better reproduction, I highly recommend the reprint series of classiccomicpress. They are avaibable here:


jhegenbe said...

E-gads! Don't stop th story now! He's gonna shot him! Call the cops, quick!

Ger Apeldoorn said...

You guessed it! He is going to be shot and is replaced by an alien imposter for the rest of the run...

George Freeman said...

Lubbers was great! I enjoyed his short run on Tarzan. I wish they had paid more so he could have continued it.

Heritage auctions has a run of "The Saint" Sundays by John Spranger, that looks like it might have been ghosted by Lubbers.

It's that well done. And he was that good.

Ger Apeldoorn said...

If you follow the tag, you will find three Lubbers Tarzan stories as well as a long look at Lubbers' The Saint (with a couple of beautiful color Sundays). As far as I could see, he drew The Saint for a couple of months at the end of 1959. In fact, I have most of his run lying around, in pretty poor quality, waiting to be shown. Beyond that, you will find a Secret Agent X-9 story and some of his last newspaper effort, Robin Malone. What you won't find yet (apart from one Sunday) is his major effort of the fifties, Long Sam. That is, because I have so many of those, that I am slowly preparing a way to show al of my Sunday scans from 1954 to 1961. Seeing how well loved Lubbers is with all of my regular posters, that should be one of the biggest events here next year.