Tag Archives: Aging

Review: MERCY: SHAKE THE WORLD

Mercy-Shake-The-World-Dover-2015

A man of means, with everything to live for, finds himself in a coma. At 54, he’s had a stroke that has left him in limbo. He floats along, out of his body, amused and perplexed by all the fuss still being made over him in hospital. While in limbo, he becomes ever more familiar with an entity of great power. He observes. He gives it a sex and a name, Mercy. He concludes that Mercy is fully self-contained and yet she repeatedly ventures back down to Earth to help. It’s totally altruistic. But why do it?

Written by J.M. DeMatteis, and artwork by Paul Johnson, “Mercy: Shake the World” is the sort of graphic novel that Will Eisner would have appreciated. As was his understanding, since life really begins after 50, many a graphic novel will be created with a more mature and worldly reader in mind. This is just that kind of work. “Mercy” is unafraid to let it all hang out when it comes to asking the big questions and not caring so much for the answers. It’s like we’re somehow past that, so beyond just seeking wisdom here.

Our main character is totally free to see as much of the big picture as he chooses. He doesn’t gorge himself on insight. He’s along for the ride, has all the time in the world. Enlightenment is inevitable. So, he takes it slow and easy. He’ll take Mercy any way it comes.

This is a beautifully rendered work. Johnson’s artwork is in touch with the ethereal just as much as DeMatteis’s script. Nothingness. Emptiness. You can go anywhere from there. From nothing to everything. Graphic novels are a perfect venue with which to ponder and expound upon the metaphysical. And here you have a fine example of just that. Our Everyman, with one foot in our world and the other in the netherworld, is neither hero nor villain. He’s just trying, before too long, to find out what all the fuss is about.

“Mercy: Shake the World,” a 128-page trade paperback in full color, with extras, is published by Dover Publications, and available as of June 17, 2015. Visit our friends at Dover Publications right here. And you can also find “Mercy: Shake the World” at Amazon right here.

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Filed under Comics, Dover Publications, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, Will Eisner

Review: ADVENTURES ON A DESERT ISLAND, published by Centrala

Centrala-Maciej-Sienczyk

Greetings from Central Europe. Did you know that some of the most intriguing comics are made in this region? Consider Polish cartoonist Maciej Sieńczyk and his latest graphic novel, “Adventures on a Desert Island,” published by Centrala. It brings to mind The Beatles’ 1968 animation masterpiece, “Yellow Submarine.” This is quite an oddball journey spiked with cerebral whimsy.

Centrala-Adventures-on-a-Desert-Island

Maciej Sieńczyk offers us an average man, frayed around the edges. We don’t know much about him other than he’s middle-aged, with thinning hair, decidedly unathletic, and timid. We never learn his name. We spend most of our time inside his head. He’s supposed to be on a desert island for most of the story but it’s the internal monologue he is having with himself that is the main attraction.

Centrala-Sienczyk-comics

Our main character is a stranger in a strange land. The strangeness comes to us from various sources including actual Polish history, folk tales, and local stories. There are, for instance, observations made on obscure Poish devices like a primitive military ferry that proved inefficient or an awkward farming implement that proved obsolete. In Sieńczyk’s hands, with his cockeyed ethereal drawings, the familiar and mundane become fanciful things more suited to a dreamy Neverland.

Centrala-Polish-comics

One strange story blends into another with jarring jolts along the way. For instance, there’s the tale of two men who fancied a drink of pine sap. One faired well. The other found his throat sealing up from the sticky sap. In the throes of his last gasps for air, he was miraculously saved by an old village woman who promptly sat on his face and peed into his mouth thus breaking the deadly pine sap seal.

Lampa-Poland-comics

This is also a story about life at middle age. You may still feel young. You may even still look relatively young. But Death is already nipping at your heels. Oh, it’s only little nips. But those nips weren’t there in younger days. Now, life seems more urgent and a greater attempt is made to grasp it in all its complexity and absurdity. That’s what our main character has been up to. He’s realized life for what it is, a bunch of adventures on a desert island.

Originally published in Poland by Lampa in 2012, “Adventures on a Desert Island” is now available from Centrala. Visit our friends at Centrala right here.

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Filed under Centrala, Comics, European Comics, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, Maciej Sienczyk

Movie Review: OCEAN’S 11 (1960)

Oceans-11-1960

The original 1960 “Ocean’s 11” is a curious thing. We all think we know the story. Going back to that original movie, it’s quite a blast from the past, a remarkable study in the popular tough guy mythos, and solid entertainment that still packs a punch. At this point in their careers as leading men, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Peter Lawford, were at the respective ages of 45, 43, and 37. They were not “young” anymore. Much of what happens in this movie, despite being light entertainment, is a contemplation of fading glory and death. I’m not sure, but if the creative team had wanted to push a little further, they could have pursued a more nuanced edge. As it is, this is a gem that finds some room for subtlety.

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Filed under Casinos, Gambling, George Clayton Johnson, Las Vegas, Movie Reviews, movies, Ocean's 11, Rat Pack

WHERE HAVE ALL THE HEROES GONE? Gloria Swanson and a Talk About How We Got Here From There

Gloria Swanson photograph by Edward Steichen, 1924

Gloria Swanson photograph by Edward Steichen, 1924

“Where have all the heroes gone?” asked Sherman. He asked this plainly and earnestly, without even a hint of irony. He looked to be about 16-years-old and not remarkable at first glance, just a kid. He wore a cardigan sweater, had messy hair, a well-worn t-shirt, jeans, and Converse high tops. Maybe a geek but not a proud geek.

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Filed under Commentary, Creative Living, Culture, Essays, Facebook, Henry Chamberlain, Heroes, Hollywood, Internet, Media, movies, Silent Movies, Social Media, Superheroes, writing