Today we have Sam Ombiri on film director Robert Bresson, and Tyler Landry on Kyle Baker’s sequencing – plus more Kyle Baker news, Chris Diaz’s photos, Vanesa R. Del Rey’s new book, a comics education sampler, and new Suzy and Cecil.
This is Sam Ombiri. I’m going to be talking more about the reappropriation of methods and style than the movies I talk about here, so I’m more than likely not going to do the films justice as I try to write about them.
I watched Funny Games again not too long ago, and parts of it reminded me of Au Hasard Balthazar, which is the number one movie for me – but more importantly, Michael Haneke‘s direction compared to Robert Bresson‘s. I think the main antagonists [in both films] are just people (or maybe a more appropriate term for them is forces) who purely inflict themselves on their victims. In Funny Games it was just maybe infliction rooted in the overbearing nature of politeness? Maybe? I think Balthazar was rooted in…haha…I don’t know, there’s too many places it goes for me to think about right now. I think the way Haneke used methods akin to Bresson’s weren’t on a (I can’t find a better word than this, I’m probably wrong as I say this) superficial level.
Andrei Tarkovsky said “When people tell me during the shooting of my film that a certain scene is in a way reminiscent of Bresson–and this has happened–I will immediately change the approach to avoid any resemblance. If there’s such an influence, it doesn’t show on the surface of my work. This is an influence of a deeper nature. It’s a moral influence between artists, without which art cannot exist.”
I was watching part two of Solaris – there were a couple of scenes where faces weren’t in the frame, but as people passed a doorway they’d caress it as they were passing by – to the same effect as when Bresson does it. I can safely say it was not an attempt to copy Bresson, it was just a moment passing by. Bresson said something like the way he films is based on how you pass someone on the street. I think the small scene in Solaris happened as result of just a coincidence of aims, and not so much attention, and reliability was placed not on the methods used in that scene, but instead on what was accomplished.
Austin English was saying how for awhile he was a big fan of Hal Hartley, but because his new movies are still made in the same way, he feels that they’re lacking. I couldn’t agree more – whenever I see Hal Hartley’s movies (the few I’ve seen), it leaves a bit of bad taste in my mouth, the way he just uses Bresson’s methods. That’s just me though, and that is not to say it’s bad to reappropriate Bresson’s methods – many of my favorite directors have. I’m even typing about one of them right now.
Sammy Harkham said something like how influence is like a shortcut to achieving something you previously wanted to do, but lacked the possible way to. I can’t conjure up a reason for why, but Austin’s frustration with the lack of change and advancement will do. At the root of Bresson there’s a lack of reliance on…what one would typically rely on. He says he doesn’t want to know where he’ll shoot, he doesn’t have professional actors. Maybe since Hal’s dad was a construction worker he’s doomed to make ‘em like he does.
Frank Santoro was telling me how Jordan Crane and Kevin Huizenga were coincidentally both doing comics that were taking place over one night, but that one night was taking years to unfold. But pretty I’m sure that the comics aren’t great just because they take place over one night. I’m pretty sure if someone wanted to be on par with their work, they’d have to do more than make the story take place over one night. That’s what Hal Hartley is to me.
Although I have to admit Amateur is a real fun movie. It reminds me of how in Please Say Something there’s a reference to the famous Funny Games remote scene. They don’t achieve the same thing, and it’s more than likely a different influence that prompted David OReilly to use that reference in that way – the Haneke influence in Please Say Something wouldn’t be that direct. (I can only guess)
So then, what I saw between Au Hasard Balthazar and Funny Games was… I don’t know if I can write about it too well – but their similarities aren’t so direct except for the forces that afflict the people. – Sam Ombiri
Deadpool doesn’t mean anything to me – but this sequence of Baker’s does. What’s striking me here is overall repetition + changed elements over time (panels). Same scene, same pile of bodies, same ornate backdrop – but slightly closer and with less active bodies across the sequence. As Deadpool reduces these guys to chum, the scene becomes more focused on a particular individual – and Deadpool’s attention on him too. He also gets smaller in the scene, and the chaos quiets down, enforcing his/the trajectory. I went on about color last week, buzzing over Space Riders, and although not my primary concern here, I have to give it a mention. Follow those REDs, watch’em boil down to see where the action goes.
One more page I wanted to look at, just for its sheer compositional beauty, was this one from a Hawkman story. It’s stark, powerful, and crystal clear. Again, it’s about creating focus – guided by form, by color, by directionality, by connecting elements across the page. Among other things, Baker’s dealing with concentrations of “noise” VS simpler, more solitary forms.
The top two panels are almost mirrored – the bird, the plane – balancing noise and larger forms. On the right, a heavier bird shape sorta scoops your view, and dumps you into the middle down below. The central panel is key in using the birds and Hawkman himself as silhouetted parallels, but focusing on him specifically – larger, darker – as the driving force in moving this one forward. He’s advancing to the right, but his body, and the angle of his sword, are turned to the lower left – which lends itself to comfortably directing your eye in the lower left panel. Then, look at the total slickness in which the line of the edge of that windshield slides right across the panel, hops over the co-pilot’s hat, and continues right along the hijacker’s bent arm, DIRECTLY into the pilot’s terrified face. Nice, dude. – Tyler Landry
Sally Ingraham here – funny that Tyler should be thinking about Kyle Baker today, as I was just listening to a podcast with him over on RiYL. Taped at the New York Comic Con amid a great deal of bustle, the interview digs into the intricate hustle that has been life as a cartoonist for Baker. He offers up some good stories about being a business-minded artist, and shares the experiences and decisions that have allowed him to remain independent AND working for two and a half decades. Check it out HERE. (via TCJ.com)
Here’s a 15 page preview of Kyle Baker’s Nat Turner (from a piece on Vulture published in 2008). Get a copy of the book and other comics by Kyle HERE.
Chris Anthony Diaz – easily the best photographer working in the comics scene – has kept busy this autumn documenting festivals and special events all across the country, from Columbus, OH, to Seattle, WA, to Los Angeles, CA. He has updated The Diaz Archive, found here on Comics Workbook, with his recent adventures – check them out:
Check out The Art of Vanesa R. Del Rey – now available from Comics Workbook! Vanesa generously agreed to let us published selections from her sketchbooks, as well as excerpts from an interview she did at the Rowhouse last spring. She is an incredible talent, the “vertical invaider” that we’ve been looking for, and this book offers up a new look at her work, process, and passions.
Give the gift of comics education! The Santoro School Handbook is a great place to start – get a copy HERE.
We are still accepting applications for the Winter Semester of the Santoro Correspondence Course for Comic Book Makers – details are HERE. Maybe you know someone who could benefit from one-on-one coaching? You won’t find a more passionate, or engaging teacher than Frank. Email us at santoroschoolATgmail to find out how you can help a friend or family member get in on the Correspondence Course.
You can also check out the Rowhouse Residency program – perhaps the ideal gift for YOURSELF – a crash course in comics making for the newcomers, or a week of uninterupted time dedicated to making that comic you’ve always dreamed about. There are more details HERE – or email us to schedule your visit to Pittsburgh, PA, in 2017!