‘All Marvels’ Charts Many Stories in the Comic Universe
An old comic the reader is well versed in the different versions of time. The image of any individual comic panel can get a small cut in an instant, a picture of Planck’s time-but how do you tell the dialogue bubbles that take a few minutes to deliver? Or the images on a panel can include ghosts of their own past to show movement or change. The channels between the panels can encode in minutes, minutes, months, or millennia. A hanger on the cliff can take four awful weeks between issues to resolve, but a writer’s story time. Some comics tell stories that started more than half a hundred years ago; no one expects anyone to remember at all.
Anyway, you get used to it. YOUNG go stutter-step through their own timeline. No one saw the whole picture. Until now.
Douglas Wolk, a renowned historian and explicator in the theory and practice of comics, saw it all. For his new book All Wonders, this week, Wolk read all of Marvel Comics, from 1961 to the present. More than 27,000 individual issues. But since all comics “happen” in the same shared universe, like recent movies and TV shows, all stories are really an ongoing story. That’s how Wolk treats them as a solitary, numerous, collaborative creator of artwork, consumed and considered a giant crater. What Wolk has achieved is more than a training. This is to criticize the literature as a test of endurance.
Still, though, that’s a lot of comics. Why was the first question I asked him in our video call: Are you OK?
“I’m done with it,” Wolk said. “I was hanging out there. Like a kitten on a poster moving back in 1970. ”His immersion in Marvels turned out to be an intense energy – a journey into a parallel universe straight as you know it. But his head did not explode. The journey has become a real journey, man. Irrespective of the state of comics in American cultural discourse though, Wolk finds subtext, symbolism, even repetitive images and references. He saw patterns. This one piece of art has a worldview. it coheres.
That may sound strange. Sure, in Marvel’s early decades the editorial team ran the so -called “Marvel approach,” in which a writer – often Stan Lee – didn’t actually hack into a screenplay with an actor, who then went and did the hang-and-tackling of spelling, paneling, and storytelling. Afterwards the writer returns and fills in the dialogue. And Lee has some familiar ways of storytelling and ideology. As more and more writers start to get involved, you might think everything will be different. But no. “These are the people who work in the same room working with each other; these are the people who work away from each other in the world who talk to each other, know what they’re doing and make sure they’re doing it. aligned and built on everyone’s ideas, ”Wolk said.“ And today’s creators, collaborating remotely with people who wrote and drew comics 40, 50, 60 years ago and had no idea that anyone will remember their work. “
Don’t get him wrong; Wolk doesn’t argue that all Marvel comics GOOD. As he pointed out to me, the famous writer and actor Jack Kirby – the cocreator of Captain America, creator of Eternals, etc. – rarely reads the things he did in those early years at Marvel. “They’re trying to do something a lot more cool and more interesting and deeper than just grinding through the pages,” he said. “They don’t always succeed. Sometimes they drop their noses, and sometimes they do something special. ”