Tuesday, January 12, 2010

David Mazzucchelli's Asterios Polyp - Coda










1. Couples by Saul Steinberg with men and women drawn differently to match their respective selfs (or, as I said below, the viewer's perception of their personalities; my reading - from left to right-: formless, insipid; childish; rational, stiff, imposing; creative, a little affected - Ursula Major? -; blunt, imposing; undistinctive, feeble, but not deprived of rational thought; airy, gaseous; brainy, but unimposing; The Passport, Harper & Brothers, 1954); men are more imposing and rational than woman; a cliché or a relic of the fifties?
2. this particular drawing (ditto, above) is a perfect example to describe the relationship between Hana and Asterios: David Mazzucchelli used a spotlight shifting from Hana to focus on Asterios as a metaphor of the latter's egotism and the former's wishy-washiness; here, Steinberg (besides attributing rationality, etc... to the man) drew the woman on the verge of being pushed out from the page;
3. Hana and Asterios are separated after a quarrel; they're radically different now; the blending is over...; the void space conveys Hana's loneliness;
4. Ignazio's theory: our self seriously constrains our worldmaking, our perception of the world; (and vice-versa, I would add?);
5. the "blockhead" nose (Scott Bukatman) in Blankets by Craig Thompson (Top Shelf, 2003);
6. New Yorker cover by Saul Steinberg (March, 29, 1976): it's a satire of New Yorkers' parochialism...;
7. in David Mazzucchelli's version time substituted space, memory is "a recreation, not a flashback" (Asterios Polyp); the latter is also highly selective, of course...;
8. David Mazzucchelli extended Saul Steinberg's expressive technique to the lettering (typography) and the balloons' shapes; here we can see both linked to three characters: Kalvin Kohoutek (a musician), whose speech balloons and lettering vaguely remind a musical notation; Asterios Polyp (an architect) whose lettering and square speech balloons underline geometry and rationality (modernism); Willy Ilium (a theatrical producer and director) whose fluid forms are an allusion to post-modernism; another fine touch in this particular page is Hana's face in panels one and two, looking left and right, conveying her disorientation among such competitive and egotistical male egos (this fact is underlined by her quasi-wordless participation in the sequence: if one inflated male ego - Asterios Polyp - is more than enough, what's there to say if her problem is multiplied by three?);
9. harmony arrives again at the end, but, this time, David Mazzucchelli didn't use the blending of her form and his structure (he did blend what they're saying - meaning that they've talked at the same time - and the speech balloons' shapes): he also used the same color for their faces (yellow; see below); plus: Asterios approached Hana by being yellow; Hana approached Asterios by becoming blue; the three primary colors are also a sign of a unified situation.


Richard There said...

Hi Domingos Isabelinho,
I would like to write you an email but I didn´t find your here. I discovered your blog today and started to read your critics. I like it a lot and now I discovered the work of Anke Feuchtenberger, which I´m very interessed.
I would like to show you here a comics blog. It could be something for you. http://richardthere.blogspot.com/

Isabelinho said...

Thanks for your kind words Richard. I'm glad that you discovered Anke Feuchtenberger here. That's also what The Crib is for...