Sunday, June 10, 2012

Ragemoor Revisited

Recently I picked up Ragemoor #2 from Jan Strnad and Richard Corben, published by Dark Horse.  It was the same week of the Alameda Antique Fair where I picked up three issues of Heavy Metal, including the first American issue from April 1977, purely by accident. Take a moment to note Corben was 37 years old in '77, he's 71yrs old now.  HE'S 71 AND STILL MAKING COMICS. He's a machine.  Jack f-ing Lalane of illustrators!  HOLLA BACK WHEN YO'40 YEARS IN!

Richard Corben's "Den"
It’s far from in perfect condition, but within it is a well-known comic by Richard Corben from 1973 called "Den."  The colors are in vivid neon, the story is bizarre, and it’s amazing.  I guess I had heard about Heavy Metal, my perception was that it was not my taste, but when I held one and started gently flipping through it…it was something else.  This was an aspect of comics I hadn’t really seen for myself before (internet not included).  Instead of looking into the past, I felt like I was looking into the future.  These were art comics; I hesitate to say it because I fear I’ll kill it.  I’m certain modern indie comics have been influenced by them; of course I realize I’m the one late to the party.  I know I’m the ignorant one here for sure.  I now have three issue of Heavy Metal, and I’m hooked.  Digital won’t do.  I just looked on ebay…somebody wants $160 for a Near Mint #1 of the American issue.   I found the other two being offered for around $10 apiece.  I got them for $3 each.  I should have bought fucking more.  Yep, now I have one regret in life.  I was doing pretty good up to now, or at least so I felt, then this…I curse ye god, fuck you Zeus, fuck you right in the eye.

Corben & Strnad's "Sinbad in the Land of the Jinn"
Let me put it right on the record here and now and say it’s not the boobies that make Heavy Metal so great. Seriously, although compared to some stuff by the Big 2 I really don’t know what’s more sexually objectifying.  There’s a sense of feminine sexuality and sensuality in these handful of 35 year old comics that I’ve never felt reading anything the Big 2 has put out, ever.  I do prefer adult themes.  Reading HM made me realize something else: my own modern sense of comics is so commercially pasteurized that something like this completely captivates me.  

Although I never read them as a child (I was 3-4yrs old at the time) there is feeling of stepping back in time when reading these “adult illustrated fantasy magazines.”  There a physical sensation in holding a book, holding an old book, realizing it has a place in History, a fixed place in Time far removed from the Now.   It’s impossible not to feel awe.  This is at the heart of my motivation in buying every comic, and incidentally, is what a digital copy can never replace.  I have felt it holding books of literature from the mid and late 19th century to comics published in the early 1980s.   There are books I wish I could afford.  Nothing will replace holding a book in your hand. As long as books exist and people keep physically handling them, more people will realize there is no substitute, and books will continue to be published. 

McKie's "So Beautiful and So Dangerous"
With both issues of Ragemoor I initially sat down to write about a story and art that didn’t really strike me all that much, but there felt like there was more there.  The longer I sat and thought about it, I realized I couldn’t put my finger on anything specifically that I didn’t like, but started seeing details I really liked.  But I LOVE the personal discovery it has led me to, namely Heavy Metal.  It possesses an energy I don’t feel from most mainstream comics, so many artists being so amazing and so weird.  I feel enriched, a little enlightened.  Is this what reading Juxtapoz is supposed to feel like?

It was looking into Corben and Strnad’s past stuff that started the ball rolling.  Looking at Ragemoor without knowing who Richard Corben is, while living under my comfy little rock, would not have drawn me to look for more of his stuff.  I am blown away by what he has produced.  Corben is the alt.comic reader’s Stan Lee.  I have seen the future, and it’s filled with giant robots, strange alien civilizations, space warriors riding pterodactyls, soul eating angels and demons from other dimensions, and lots and lots of boobies---in all their super-vivid-hyper-Technicolor splendor.  And this future happened 35 years ago…da-daa-DUMMM!

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