A personal diary keeping people abreast of what I am working on writing-wise.

Saturday, September 16, 2006


I'm consistently amazed by how much fandom of all kinds imposes the law of diminishing returns on what it worships. Musicians and novelists and filmmakers are always shackled by what people fell in love with first, and if you don't spend the rest of your career chasing after that initial blush of success, the people who "support" you will always be asking why you don't, just as they sharpen the second edge of their sword so they can stab you with an accusatory "repeating yourself" when you do.

Thus, we must love that which bucks the trend, that improves as it moves, that gets better as it goes.

So I am seduced by Casanova, the comics series by writer Matt Fraction and artist Gabriel Bá (Image Comics). The recently relased fourth issue is the best yet.

As a writer, Fraction has been climbing with each issue of Casanova. At its start, I'll admit I found the book a little hard to wrap my head around. There were almost too many ideas crammed into the pages, too much to let his eadership in on and possibly a structural misstep to try to do it all at once out of a grand desire to deliver the goods. With #s 2 and 3, I felt like Matt was getting more comfortable. He wasn't having to explain as much, and so the stories could start just being stories. He could rely on a familiarity with the characters and the world and no need to worry about giving us all the background. It's why I think the "sequels always suck" maxim is a lot of crap, because sometimes sequels can get down to business much quicker because you already know what the deal is. Something like X-Men 2 or (yes, I'm saying it) Wayne's World II (which today would be called WWII because it's so hard to type or, worse, say full titles anymore). No explanation needed. That's Wolverine, and that's Wayne and Garth, let's have some fun.

Casanova #4 is all about the fun. Now that Casanova Quinn has set up shop as a double-agent in an alternate timeline, Fraction and Bá need only concern themselves with creating new missions for their guy to undertake. This time around, he is sent to kidnap a guru who is either the greatest new religious figure since Christ or a bullshit performance artist who just pulled the bestest con ever. Given that this is a Fraction plot, boiling it down to option A and option B is silly and short-sighted of me, because we're going to get several other alphabetical choices before we close covers, but there you go. Yet, it doesn't feel cluttered. Ditto for Gabriel Bá's art. It doesn't feel as manic or crammed in trying to keep up with everything Matt is tossing into the three rings of their spacey circus. When Bá gets his action on, the comic really kicks.

The other thing that shows the series growth is that the character of Cas is becoming far more human. Last issue, he figured out where his mother had been locked away, and #4 gets deeper into that. Now that the concept of who and what Casanova is has been pushed out of the way, the actual guy gets the room to be himself. It made #4 the first issue I enjoyed without any reservation, and I hope it's the standard bearer of what is to follow.

Current Soundtrack: Sarah Nixey, "Strangelove;" Andy Bell, "I'll Never Fall In Love Again;" Placebo, "Infra-Red;" Michael Galasso, "Casanova's Flute;" Pet Shop Boys, "Casanova in Hell;" Petula Clark, "Casanova"

Current Mood: apathetic

1 comment:

1031 said...

Amen. Casanova is, with each new issue, rapidly becoming one of my favorite books.

Ba's art (I have no idea how to make the little accent mark over the 'a') is so much fun. It's so expressive and emotive.

And you're absolutely right, Fraction does have a ton of ideas he obviously want to cram into the book. It's like he wasn't sure how long the book would last and he wanted to write them all down before the book got cancelled, which I don't think he needs to worry about anytime soon.

I loved the neo-Buddha in #4. I loved the real story of the neo-Buddha that Fraction wrote about in the back of the issue. It's just such a cool idea. I can't wait to see what's in store for Cass next.