Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Prometha revisited pt. 32

Sunday I completed my re-reading of the epic five volume (32 issues) Promethea series by Alan Moore and J.H. (Jim) Williams and it was the total immersive art and idea experience that I remembered it being. Promethea is not as heralded as other creations by Moore such as Watchmen, V For Vendetta, or League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (except by people who've read the entirety of Promethea) and that's sad because it really is at least their equal in my estimation. I think one of the reasons Promethea hasn't to date found the audience that Moore's other great comic masterworks has is because even though Promethea starts as a somewhat conventional "science hero" creation, in short order everything about Promethea veers as far from conventional story-telling as has ever been done in this medium. A readers complete attention must be given to Promethea while reading said book as Moore and Williams, through this character and book, created a tour guide of how the imagination (yours, mine, theirs) has shaped the world - Promethea is the embodiment of the imagination. There is very much a progression that happens throughout Promethea and re-reading these graphic novels is another great example of the mastery that is Moore's ability to inter-connect every story, character, and idea element, which adds up to not a wasted (or filler) page or panel (also done to perfection in Watchmen and V For Vendetta) - the amount of foresight required for doing something like this always amazes me.

The above photo is of an original two page spread by art god J.H. Williams from Promethea #31 and while it was beautiful in color within the comic, here you can see through the ink wash effect Jim did these pages in that he is an artist with a capital "A", just as Moore is a writer with a capital "W" (please click on the image to see this in all its large splendor). Promethea would not have worked with any artist other than J.H. Williams because he totally ran with the experimental story-telling that Moore directed, by employing several different art styles and always finding new ways to design a page. The best example of J.H. Williams' ability to go where no comic artist has gone before is in the last issue of Promethea (#32) in which each page is a beautiful image (images) unto itself, but also form two poster sized images that takes the whole epilogue to another level.

Promethea #32, the epilogue and last issue is not just amazing on the visual art level as it is the singular issue of Promethea that a person could read, even if they haven't read any other issue, and totally understand and appreciate the grandeur that is Promethea because the issue works as both a self contained issue and as a summation of the whole series.

Following are some of my favorite passages from Promethea #31 (they contain no spoilers for those of you who haven't read the series, I just want to share them for the great ideas and writing they are):

"Our lives are all a story we've been telling to ourselves, whiling away the long afraid night of our human ignorance." "The clothes you're wearing. The room, the house, the city that you're in. Everything in it started out in the human imagination. Your lives, your personalities, your whole world. All invented. All made up. All the wars, the romances. The masterpieces and machines. And there's nothing here but a funny little twist of amino acids, playing a marvelous game of pretend."

1 comment:

jhw3 said...

Thank you so much, Ralph. You always have the nicest things to say about my projects. I really appreciate your advocacy.