Saturday, March 25, 2006

2 Visual Quotations

There's a lot going on in X-Factor #5, and I'm going to try write a coherent post which doesn't spoil the issue. Rather than provide a review, what I'd like to do is point out several interesting visual references that I caught while I was reading.

First of all, that's a nice cover. I'm a big fan of Ryan Sook's; I loved his work on the Seven Soldiers: Zatanna series, and was bummed out when I learned that his run on X-Factor would be a brief one.

The interior art is by Dennis Calero, and the comic's first panel provides a nice visual reference to Edward Hopper's magnificent 1942 painting Nighthawks, which is at the Art Institute of Chicago. Here's a reproduction:

And here's Calero's "citation" of the painting from X-Factor:

The second visual citation I caught in the book refers to a well-known panel from True Crime Comics #2, (which served as a centerpiece in Dr. Fredric Wertham's Senate testimony in which he advocated the censoring of comics).

This intense and shocking drawing is from a story by Jack Cole titled "Murder, Morphine, and Me: The True Confessions of a Dope Smuggler by Mary Kennedy," which is reproduced in Art Spiegelman and Chip Kidd, Jack Cole and Plastic Man: Forms Stretched to Their Limits!, (Chronicle Books, 2001). (It's subsequently revealed that Mary has only dreamed the horrific event that's being depicted in the panel.)

Man, that's an utterly effective image, (which itself refers to Buñel and Dali's Un Chien Andalou). It gets right to the core of our primal fear of being blinded and/or having or eyes punctured. And, since I'm on the topic of visual quotations, let me add another: just before he blasts her to death in Crisis on Infinite Earths #7, the Antimonitor grabs Supergirl's face, framing one of her eyes in the same way.

Finally, here are the two panels from X-Factor #5 that also "quote" Cole's memorable one:

Calero's art and Peter David's writing operate in perfect synch, here. In the first panel, the expression in Siryn's eye conveys fear as she focuses on the scalpel; in the second, it registers her utter contempt as she shifts her attention to her captor.

Ugh, what disturbing imagery. I had known of the original drawing, but had not made the connection with the original Crisis. Very interesting.

I have to say that I like the modern version in which the woman finally gets to tell her captor to go to hell. Long time coming.
I got the Nighthawks reference but could never remember the name or the painter.

I think I could benefit personally from an art history or interpretation class. (I just can't benefit financially from one)
Thanks for your comments, Nida and Ragnell.

Nida: I couldn't agree with you more.

Ragnell: Judging from your posts at The Written World, you could teach a (Comics) Art Appreciation course. And if you offered it, I would take that course.
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