Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Umbrella Academy, two volumes

I picked up The Apocalypse Suite and Dallas, two volumes of this comic, at the library recently.

I liked the premise and the art, but there was more death than I expected (though it was a Dark Horse release, and the art did signal to me that it was an adult book). Also, although I liked the plot, the whole thing never really gelled for me. There was a lot of backstory that felt thin; I didn't care enough about the characters. I feel like the author designed a story that he couldn't quite pull off.

For some reason this was shelved in the Youth comics section of our library, when it seems obvious to me that it's aimed at adults. 

The art was Mike Mignola Hellboy in style and level of detail. A lot of the characters had a strong Mignola influence to their designs. 

Something I noticed in these books that I've seen elsewhere, from the foreward and comments, is that comics seem to engender a sort of reverence in fans and creators, well beyond the stuff that actually happens in the comic. That is, the events and characters are often quite thin -- there aren't really many pages in a graphic novel, there's not time for all that much to happen -- but people seem to write about them as if things are happening off-camera.

I wonder if this comes from the monthly nature of comics, where readers have a whole month to think about each issue. I've been avoiding single-issue comics for years now, so I no longer consume comics that way at all: I read them almost exclusively in collections, which, if well done, contain a full storyline in one waiting. There's especially no waiting when I can read a whole graphic novel in an hour or less. 

I'll have to collect examples of's just a feeling right now. I'll pack it up with the seven or eight other literary theories I have that I can't be bothered to prove just yet. :)


  1. This is a good point, and perhaps it jells with the points Adam Cadre was making about reader identification that you linked to in your previous post: with such thin characters, readers tend to project onto them. But I thought these books were a lot of style over substance. But the author is a singer and a lot of popular music has lyrics that seem pretty thin to me as well but gets revered as though it were the height of poetic expression. So perhaps titles like these create some sort of emotional resonance with certain readers that produces a depth of FEELING that gets transferred to ideas about depth of PLOT or CHARACTER?

  2. Also, GINORMOUS FONT for this post.

  3. Ooh, great ideas re: emotional resonance.

    Not sure why the font was bigger. I'm trying out the Blogger In Draft editor, I think it's got different defaults or something.

  4. Well, I was able to fix the font no problem.