markwilliams (markwilliams) wrote,

Nexus Graphica: The Bronx is Up and the Battery's Down

The Bronx is Up, and The Battery's Down

Batman So here I am in New York, brought east by a production of a play of mine, running in an off-off Broadway venue.

While here, I'm taking long walks around Manhattan, signing the odd Danger Boy book I find on a store shelf, and stopping in at the legendary Forbidden Planet comics store near Union Square, to, well, look at a bunch of comics all at once (when you review 'em, they sort of come in at an erratic pace, and you don't see that "array" in front of you).

Among those was the latest Batman -- number 686, for those of you keeping count -- by Neil Gaiman and Andy Kubert. Fairly terrific stuff where a number of rogues and survivors of the d. knight's life are gathered at a wake -- his -- and telling different stories, Rashomon-like, of how Bruce Wayne's inner self finally met his demise. There seems to be a twist to said demise -- isn't there always? -- coming up in the concluding chapter in Detective Comics, so stay tuned.

The story, as expected, was set among the shadows and alleys of "Gotham City," the real version of which I find myself in now. A few doors over, at Shakespeare & Co., I browsed through a behind-the-scenes coffee table book (well, demistasse size, perhaps) about the making of the Watchmen film, which is also set resolutely in New York. Even if it's an alternate universe NY.

I've been musing, since I've been here, about the effect of the Big Apple on the development of the comic book itself. A distinctly American artifact, the comic book, as we know it, was born here (the "here" I'm in now), even if its antecedents -- the comic strip -- can be traced originally to early 19th century Europe.

Once while reading up on the intersection of religious beliefs and environmental calamity -- it's easier to destroy what isn't considered sacred -- I came across a theory cited in an article that may have belonged originally to an anthropologist like Claude Levi-Strauss -- or was it Paul Shepard? In any case, the notion went, the reason that monotheisms were more easily hatched in the desert is that the space you see around you, the vast, austere horizons, "uncluttered" by much in the way of flora or fauna, give rise to the idea of "creation" -- everything around you -- being a single, tied-together entity....

(more of this particular "dispatch from New York" at the link...)

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