Jul 11, 2017

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 867: Gremlin Trouble #18, 1999

https://www.comics.org/issue/134167/

Totally forgot yesterday that I'd said I'd read my run of Gremlin Trouble this week. So, with a slight detour into Calgarian comicdom, here it is. I may have mentioned this in the previous post, but we're totally in media res here, experiencing the final phase of a huge war that, I think, happened in the issues just before what I have. Which is no big deal, because the last four of so pages of this issue are devoted to a complete recap of the last 17 issues. Super helpful, and kind of makes me want to see if I can track them down. There's a sci-fi element to this series that I hadn't realized until this issue, both in the narrative proper and in the recap. It's easy to pigeonhole comics based on surface reading. A comic with a superpowered protagonist is a superhero comic. A comic with fairies and gremlins as protagonists is a fantasy comic. But if there's one thing I've come to realize over the course of my education (which, just in the interest of transparency, I quit last week), it's that genre is a much more malleable construct than that. Batman is a superhero, and his comics are superhero comics, but they're also detective comics, tragic comics, occasionally science fiction, occasionally fantasy. And just so, Gremlin Trouble is both fantasy and science fiction, comedy and action. Is it time to start moving beyond genre, perhaps? It's a useful tool to generally classify a work, but very often a work, if it is determined to "belong" to one genre, is relegated to that genre. And this relegation can mean that it is not considered as contributing anything to genres outside of the one it belongs to. Cormac
McCarthy's The Road is science fiction, even though we may classify it as literary fiction (a genre in and of itself). Spenser's The Faerie Queene is part of the fantasy genre, even though we relegate it to the genre of Early Modern poetry. Recognizing that genre is fluid (funny how genre and gender sound so alike) is, I think, an important way to start talking about the important impact of some comics. It's one of the things I ran up against in my academic career, the idea that just because a work is part of the superhero genre, it is relegated to only being about that, and therefore not worth talking about in any other context.

I didn't mention anything about the art in Gremlin Trouble last time, but it's quite excellent. Though, as the cover up there demonstrates, there's a reliance on objectifying female anatomy, it's not something that tends to impinge upon the story itself. More like what we might call fan service in a manga or anime. That aside, the art gives the story a feel of being action-driven. The characters are always in motion of some sort. It's a fundamental of comics art, the idea that the pictures should never really look static, but it's not always something that comics achieve. Gremlin Trouble manages it quite nicely.

To be continued.

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