Monday, 31 August 2009

Beyond the Garish Bed Sheet

Ok, so let's take the theme of Saturday's post a little further. If, as I claimed in a fit of hyperbolic madness, a set of patterned bed sheets that appear on one page of Batman -- Year One suggests other stories that could happen in Gotham, what would these stories be like?

Well, I think they'd look a little bit like this:

(The above images are from: Barton Fink, by the Coen brothers and various; Ai Yazawa's Nana; Batman - Year One by David Mazzucchelli, Richmond Lewis and Frank Miller; and The Birth Caul, adapted by Eddie Campbell from a performance by Alan Moore.)

Of course just last week two Batman comics came out that made Gotham City seem like a freakishly exciting theater of the mind, which is how I normally like to imagine it. First, there was Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's Batman and Robin #3, in which two young men escaped a ride through a Lynchian fairground and one young woman wasn't so lucky:

Then there was the third issue of J.H. Williams III and Greg Rucka's run on Detective Comics, which showed how easy it is to mix baroque, monstrous horror...

...with scenes of dancefloor romance that suggest a particularly goth-friendly Disney movie:

So it's not like I'm actually desperate for DC to start publishing comedy-romance-horror stories about young people trying to make a mark on that particular fictional city, because honestly, those stories would probably be better without the constant threat of wonky Bat-cameos. But still, the pleasure of finding such ideas suggested (however obliquely or implicitly) in a Batman comic is one of the reasons I still bother to read comics. Quitely and Williams aren't quite doing that in their respective works, but I still love the way they amp up the theatrical madness implicit in the best Batman stories.

Hmmm... you know, looking back over this post it occurs to me that Sean Witzke really is a lot better at this sort of thing than I am. If I had the skills I'd make him the Liquid Swords/There Will Be Blood mashup album he imagines here, because (A) the battered hubris of Daniel Plainview's "I have a competition in me" speech makes perfect sense in the 'Cold World' that Liquid Swords documents, and (B) Sean's There Will Be Blood: Babycart to Hades post demonstrates just how fitting the substitution of Daniel Plainview for Ogami Ittō actually is.

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