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One for the curio cabinet

A question was posed by steve98052:

Can you tell about an example of a work of fiction that you enjoyed, even though it was a member of a genre that normally doesn’t interest you?

This took me a while to decide.  (Well, a short while, anyway.)  Mostly because, when I step out of my usual reading habits and find something new to enjoy, I often then follow up other books by the same author or in the same genre.  There aren’t too many ‘one offs’ on my bookshelf.  On the other hand, although over the years I have read reasonably widely, over a number of genres, there are a number of areas where so far I have enjoyed a few select authors whilst not perhaps being wholly sold on that type of book as a whole.

For example, I have a big problem with historical fiction, normally.  It’s just so hard to get right.  But I do like George MacDonald Fraser.  I’ve read quite a few by him, so he’s not really a one-off!

And as for fantasy, which normally I wouldn’t think to read, like most people I’ve read a number of Terry Pratchett’s books.

I might say that I’m not an avid reader of ‘modern contemporary fiction’ but then again there’s a small corner of my library devoted to Paul Auster.

And ‘Modern Classics’ – well, I may not partake of them all that regularly, but I do love dear old E.W.  (Evelyn Waugh, that is.)

So it’s a little tough to pick something that stands out like the proverbial sore thumb.

After some contemplation, then, the category of fiction I’ve decided on for this exercise is… The Graphic Novel.

Nowadays it is quite fashionable to read this sort of thing, as far as I can tell – at any rate, it is no longer the exclusive (and groan-inducingly stereotyped) preserve of spotty, socially inept young males.  I have to say that anything with an air of obsession about it generally puts me off.  Especially where the risk of dressing up is concerned.  And, well, I suppose I have fallen victim to the temptation to consider The Graphic Novel (or – let’s be down to earth here – The Comic Book) to be That Kind of Thing.  The sort of thing that is liable to get made into a really awful movie, thus alienating further droves of prospective readers.  The sort of thing that used to only be available via mail order, or in the sort of shop where I’d feel very out of place.

Basically, if it’s got its own vocabulary, dress code and souvenir figurines… I want none of it!

But one day, I heard about something rather intriguing.  (To me, at any rate.)  Some comic book characters who may or may not have some sort of resemblance/link to Ron and Russell Mael of Sparks fame.  These characters – Ron and Russ Post by name – were drawn by Matt Howarth, who is also… drum roll, please… a weird music aficionado!  He has been involved with The Residents in the past, amongst others.

Ron and Russell Post are described thusly:

“The Post Brothers: Two funloving but extremely twisted bad-boys hailing from the wrong side of Bugtown.  They are very greedy, pathologically trigger-happy, completely corruptible, endlessly irritating, psychotically solipsistic, and – unfortunately for all – possessed of the ability to instantly shift between all possible reality levels.  The Universe is their oyster, and they like it raw.”  They also do a lot of ‘regenerating’ whenever they get killed.  Even the buildings repair themselves.  I suppose if your world was like that, perhaps you would do a lot of killin’ and vandalisin’.  Anyway, it must be a rather useful plot device!

Ron P. has a fine, fine moustache, as does our real-life friend Ron M.  I note also that there is a link to various Sparksian websites on Mr H’s page of musical links, so I wonder whether there is indeed a connection?

The musical connections interested me, and Mr Howarth draws a nice drawing, too – so I decided that I must see what the fuss was all about.  That is how I find myself in possession of “Das Loot” (collecting the first 5 issues of THOSE ANNOYING POST BROS series) and “Stalking Ralph”, which is a Residents-themed story.

I have a feeling that if it had been easier to get hold of these things (you know, popping into W H Smiths, say, as opposed to sending international money orders hither and yon – showing my age again, it must have been pre-PayPal!) I might have acquired more of Matt Howarth’s things by now.  The musical references are fun and I’m all for a little stylishly-drawn, amoral villainy, where fiction is concerned, if nowhere else…

Ok, enough rambling!  I hope that was reasonably diverting.


( 3 confidences — Confide in me... )
Mar. 17th, 2008 02:29 pm (UTC)
That's an interesting answer.

I'm not sure I'd count graphic novels as a genre so much as a medium. If not for the fact that both Hellboy and Persepolis contain fiction with illustrations filling every page except for a little text, they'd never be found anywhere near each other in a book store. That would be like shelving videotapes of Star Wars and Sleepless in Seattle next to each other in a movie store simply because they're both on tape and start with "S".

But it's true that a lot of graphic novels are aimed at boys who haven't noticed that they've advanced well past adolescence. So to an extent it's fair to count them as a genre, as long as there's also a category for graphic novels that don't fit the stereotype.

Anyway, classification questions don't make the answer less interesting.

Mar. 17th, 2008 03:43 pm (UTC)
Hmm, an intriguing comment! I'm sure there must be widely varied 'visual vocabularies' and themes going on with these things, as you say. I guess there's still a way to go before all graphic novels are not just lumped together as one category in people's minds.
Mar. 18th, 2008 09:49 am (UTC)
I suppose it's an example where Marshall McLuhan's line "the medium is the message" applies more literally than he had intended.
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