Thursday, November 15, 2007

Black Dossier - no spoilers!

Following are my impressions of Black Dossier:

I started reading The Black Dossier last night and planned to stay up all night to finish it, but after about three hours I was getting increasingly tired and couldn't focus on what was going on. So I spent about three more hours finishing The Black Dossier this morning. I wanted to read this as soon as I could because as many of those reading this blog know, I'm a huge Alan Moore fan (also insanely jealous of people who got the book before me last week - I'm looking at you Jason H!) and I wanted to partake in discussions about the book that are already taking place on the internet and elsewhere.

Heidi MacDonald in her online column, The Beat (which she does in connection with Publisher's Weekly), described The Black Dossier as "dense and delightful." defines the word dense as: "intense; extreme or difficult to understand or follow because of being closely packed with ideas or complexities of style." I think Black Dossier encompasses both of these definitions because while reading it was enjoyable, at the same time it is definitely not a book that one can read without using much of their grey matter and is as far removed from being a conventional graphic novel as can be imagined.

Black Dossier is a graphic novel in the purest definition of graphic novel. It does have sequential passages that read like a "normal" comic or graphic novel and has pictorial content that is "graphic" (and not of a violent nature), but it also reads like a complex novel in which the reader has to put elements together to grasp the big picture. Black Dossier is over 200 pages, but it also has many pages of "just" prose that are important parts of the story and are entertaining in their own right as Moore writes sequences ala Shakespeare and prose in the beat poetry style popular in the 1950's and early 1960's. Alan Moore has said in an interview that Black Dossier started as a source book, but added that all source books are crap, so while Black Dossier is a sorce book of sorts cataloging various Leagues throught history (and from France and Germany), it has a narrative structure, albeit a pretty unique narrative structure (should we expect anything less from Alan Moore?).

I could go on and on one talking about specific sections of The Black Dossier that I enjoyed, but for now I just want to single out Moore's chapter towards the end which he writes in the beat poetry style as amongst my favorite (and I think it helps if you actually read that section outloud to better grasp what he's doing and saying) as well as the 3-D concluding chapter (cool glasses included), which besides being fantastic visually (as is the eclectic art by Kevin O'Neill throughout the book), has great ideas that are great ideas onto themselves, not just as means for the conclusion. I hope that anyone who reads this entry isn't intimidated by how long I've said it takes to read Black Dossier or when people describe it as dense, because ultimately I believe that everyone who reads Black Dossier will upon finishing feel like they've been part of a great journey.

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