Spencer: There’s a certain rush that comes with new stories, with watching a whole world full of new characters and relationships being established right before your eyes, but it’s a rush that by definition can’t last forever, and late-series attempts to keep things fresh often misfire. The answer isn’t continually adding new characters and concepts, which can often leave a story feeling bloated and distract from its core themes; the best storytellers know the power that comes from mixing up established relationships, throwing together characters who have never really interacted before, and finding new perspectives to view their cast through. Greg Rucka and Michael Lark’s Lazarus is well into its second year and fourth storyline, and it’s exactly these kind of techniques that keeps issue 18 feeling as compelling as ever. Continue reading
Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Lazarus 17, originally released June 17th, 2015.
Narrative art must be clear, but it must also be mysterious. Something should remain unsaid, something just beyond our understanding, a secret. If it’s only clear, it’s kitsch; if it’s only mysterious (a much easier path), it’s condescending and pretentious and soon monotonous.
Drew: I’m fascinated by the relationship Lazarus has with clarity. It’s actually one of the most clear comics I’ve ever read — I’ve often remarked upon both Greg Rucka’s deceptively organic exposition and Michael Lark’s ability to keep track of every character in a scene — but it also leaves a great deal unsaid. The most obvious piece is the world-building — our focus has remained relatively tight on a small handful of characters, but every detail implies a much larger, more complex world beyond the edge of the page — but I’m much more interested in the things literally left unsaid; the subtle glances and body language that permeate the artwork, leaving the audience to interpret how characters are feeling. This all but forces us to project our own feelings onto the characters, drawing us further into the narrative. Issue 17 opens with what amounts to reversal of this trick, forcing the characters’ subjectivity onto us, and it is incredibly effective. Continue reading
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Lazarus 16, originally released April 22nd, 2015.
Drew: My first experience with an epistolary novel was Karen Cushman’s Catherine, Called Birdy, presented as the diary of the titular character. It seemed like such a novel concept to me (no pun intended), but the epistolary novel actually predates the modern novel by over 100 years. It makes sense that the documentary-style of the epistolary novel as a collection of letters and diary entries might be more approachable than the entirely artificial convention of having a character (or third person narrator) telling the story to us. While Lazarus has often stayed close to Forever’s perspective, it’s never committed to any one narrator, which makes issue 16 all the more unusual, presented largely as the diary entries, transmissions, conversation transcripts, and training materials of Sister Bernard, punctuated with only a few short instances of dialogue. Continue reading
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Lazarus 14, originally released February 18th, 2015.
…poetry is a short story missing 99 percent of the words.
Drew: I really wish I had the rest of the above quote, made by Rucka at the New York Comic Con in 2013, but to paraphrase, Rucka was suggesting that an intimate understanding of the form of short stories would prepare writers for every kind of writing except poetry. I’ve always seen a resemblance between Rucka’s taut comic work and great short stories, but what truly struck me about that quote was how it seemed to contradict the oft-quoted axiom that the required efficiency of short stories aligns them more closely with poetry than novels. This seeming contradiction may boil down to the inadequacy of our definition of “poetry”, but I couldn’t help but think of this quote as I read Lazarus 15, one of the most poetic comics I’ve ever read. Continue reading
Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Lazarus 14, originally released January 14th, 2015.
Spencer: It takes more than blood to make a family. I have great aunts and uncles I barely know, a few cousins I’ve never even met — they may be my relatives, but as far as I’m concerned, they’re not my family. No, family is forged in many different ways, but almost all of them involve either large quantities of time spent together or a unique shared understanding of life. Forever has never received either of these things from the rest of the Carlyles, which makes it all the more strange that her first real familial connection amongst them is made with Jonah, the brother who tried to kill her. Yet, that’s exactly what happens in Greg Rucka and Michael Lark’s Lazarus 14, and the consequences of their newfound connection looks like it will only make Forever’s life even tougher in the future. Continue reading
London Mayor Boris Johnson on the 2012 Olympics
Drew: The bacchanalian nature of the Olympic village is well-documented, with anecdotes about the athletes’ exploits reaching near-legendary status, but even without all of the stories, the orgiastic qualities of the village should come as no surprise — what else would you expect of an international group of twenty-somethings in peak physical condition with little else to do? Throw in the fact that any given day, somebody is celebrating the most important win of their lives, and you have an obvious recipe for partying. Curiously, this is exactly the situation the Lazari find themselves in in Lazarus 12. With their families preoccupied with the formalities and strategies of the conclave, the Lazari are left with little to do other than admire each other’s super-human bodies. The result is a decidedly lighter — and alluring — respite amidst all of the tension of the conclave. Continue reading
Drew: There’s a scene late in Lazarus 11 that finds Malcolm Carlyle dictating a message for Forever to deliver. We’ve seen Forever take on the role of messenger/negotiator before, but what’s remarkable here is how open Malcolm is about his means of manipulation. He’s considered every action and reaction that will happen as Forever carries out his orders, and is able to maintain exacting control in spite of being thousands of miles from the actual negotiations. It’s an unsettling display of raw power, but also opens the possibility that Malcolm is himself being manipulated — it would only take a mind equal to Malcolm’s to have anticipated all of his actions here. With all of this subterfuge, it’s easy to see why Forever might question if she’s getting the whole truth from her father about her parentage. Continue reading