Monday, January 7, 2008

My Return to Prose...

December is always about that time of the year where finally things start to die down. Last month or so whenever I last felt I had something to actually say (and fucking surprise surprise, I was kidding myself like I always do) I was talking about how the months from September to about now are always a media overload. And they are honestly despite how much I rambled on in there trying to make a topic out of it. In the past three months or so I've picked up probably $300 in Comic book volumes, gone through five video games, and doubled my Blu-Ray collection and so on. But now I've hit a lull. The games are all done until the Warhawk expansion comes out, I've read so many comics the past month that I'm just putting everything left on my stack on the back burner until the true lull hits, the January lull (especially with the writers strike on, natch). So now I'm taking the time and effort to get reacquainted with a long lost friend: the novel.

Already though, I'm reminded of why I left those sumbitches behind...

Honestly, until the new Michael Chabon and Warren Ellis novels came out earlier this year and sparked my interest back into the fold of just words on paper, I think it had been a good two years since I even tried to read a book, Gaiman's "Anansi Boys" and despite him even being probably my favorite writer of all time, I still couldn't do it. Now, back then I was just too much into the comics. There was so much material to be covered, so many writers up and coming, so many great artists to soak in. I was in a zone and just couldn't compromise between to literate mediums. In the time it took me to read a book, I could almost put down a whole series of TPBs.

And truthfully, I just find the medium of comic books to be superior for the way my brain functions.

Most of my novel reading back in the day, back when I was actually putting down about six, maybe seven HUNDRED pages of book down a week, I stuck mostly to the Sci-Fi and Fantasy stuff. Robert Jordan, the Battletech Universe and so on because, quite frankly, they were more plot based. See, the reason I typically forsake novels for comics is simply this: I have a lazy brain. Okay, really what it is is that I just like things more "efficient" I guess the term I want to go for here. Sure, it's a beautiful thing when an author can weave a scene with his (or her of course) plethora of nouns and adjectives and whatever they can pull out of their trusty thesauruses. Words are a powerful tool, we all know this. But so are lines on a page, and honestly, instead of reading for two or three pages about "the dangling growth over the bombed out apartment complex" and how "the sun shone a glimmer upon the shores like a sheet of gold" or whatever... y'know what motherfucker? I'd rather just see it and be done with it so I can just get to what the characters are saying and focus on that.

And that's the issue I'm running with today getting back into novels, simply because I don't really have the mindset for them, let alone even the real grasp of what I like, or even what I'm looking for (though that's not really true, just like with any of my hobbies, as long as its a good story with thoughtful execution I'm pretty much game. I soak up info like a sponge). But that's why comic books ensnared me into their world so easily back in my early college days, because I realized the stories were just as good as what I was getting in book form, but I could simply let my eyes do much more of the work by themselves instead of having to take in every single word on a page and having my imagination do most of the heavy lifting. Like I said before: "efficiency". With comics, the setting is already there for you, so really any words you're reading on the page are dedicated straight to the plot (or at least you would hope). For someone like me, and especially with my more "multi-tasking" commitment to my pursuits these days, comics are just the thing.

But after having tasted the world of prose again via those books I mentioned in the second paragraph up above I want to get back into them. Now the problem lies so much with just finding something more "streamlined". Something that's really more just about pushing the plot, stuff with biting dialogue or tight script. "Crooked Little Vein" was so perfect for that, it was a book about a man with a job to do, some scorching commentary on the culture around us, and hilarious spurts of conversation. Best of all, it was succinct (though possibly too much so since I think it ended rather abruptly... but that's another dissertation).

I looked around some of the threads on the Bendis Board and iFanboy forums and some such looking for something that might tickle my fancy, and I ended up picking up four novels from Borders last week. I grabbed a Jonathan Lethem book "Fortress of Solitude" because of how much I like his OMEGA THE UNKNOWN comic right now, and I got some stuff from Thomas Pynchon, Daniel Handler, and Dave Eggers too. I've started with the Lethem one and already I'm back to what I was trying to point out in all that mishmash of brain gibberish I call "writing" above there: There's just too much wordage, but really not enough do-age. It's not a bad book at all, but it's why I kind of abandoned the world of books way back when. I'm 150 pages in, and sure, things are developing, but really half the material in there is setting. But, given some of allusions and references and how they're developed in the story, it really had to be a book. This isn't a work that I could say "Man, just draw the damn settings and distill the plot into a comic script!" I honestly just can't get behind it though, and I'm thinking I'm going to have to abandon ship and get to something more in my "comfort zone". I'm flipping through the copy of "You Shall Know Our Velocity!" I picked up as well and I can tell the way it's laid out is definitely more where I need to be at.

Goddamn comic books, they really have rotted my brain...

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