Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday Quotations: There Are So Many Reasons Why Constantine = Keeanu Reeves is the Worst Idea Ever

"Something was hanging in the air like an electric charge. Some force. Some dammed-up potential, seeking its level. It grounded itself in staccato pulses. A librarian in Spain eviscerated himself on live webcam; slowly but with terrible determination. He lived long enough to explain that he was dying for the sins of the world. One of the ambulance men, weeping, asked for his blessing. The other reflected that logically, more deaths would redeem a greater number of sins. A little girl in an Ohio grade school wrote a story and read it out in class. Eighteen of her classmates would later require counselling, and her teacher would take medical leave that would eventually segue into early retirement. Something was squirming through the long dark of the womb. Loping towards Bethlehem. Scrabbling and clawing and straining to be born." --Mike Carey, John Constantine Hellblazer: Staring at the Wall.

What attracts me about this quotation is less the quotation itself as its presentation and function in the story (a comic book arc, wherein Constantine gathers a team to combat the Shadow Dog, the one animal Adam never named). It's a tour de force of writing appropriately for the genre and the medium. The text covers a single page; 5 panels, each panel the entire width of the page, with the final panel about twice as tall as the others. The "wide-shot" nature of each panel serves to establish a voyeur/tableau sort of feeling; you get a sense that the scenes before you are just something you've been allowed to glimpse at, but won't be allowed to see any more of the story. The final panel, starting with the text "Something was squirming" has a picture relatively unrelated to its text; it depicts the DC/Vertigo character Swamp Thing, standing impassively. Thus, without actually making an overt statement, Carey establishes the page's connection to the tradition of DC horror books, and the Alan Moore-esque Swamp Thing in particular. Finally, the two vignettes (little girl and librarian) themselves remind me of those 100-word story challenges--both could be fleshed out into an entire story, but since all we see is this glimpse, we get the sense that we're just looking at the tip of the iceberg, that these events are global. The very brevity and economy of the panels establish the horror setting better than pages and pages of set-up could.

As opposed to this blog, for example, where brevity is never a problem.

Later Days.

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