March 29, 2009

Comic about THE AMAZON

Amazon (2009 Dark Horse) 1 comic bookTHE AMAZON #1 (of 3) Steven T. Seagle (W), Tim Sale (A), and Matt Hollingsworth (C). Twenty years to the month after its original Comico publication, Dark Horse is proud to re-present The Amazon, some of the earliest work from acclaimed writer Steven T. Seagle and superstar artist Tim Sale! The Amazon Jungle is among the most ancient and biologically diverse places on earth, but it's being plundered for its resources and destroyed at a rate of thousands of acres a day. Reporter Malcolm Hillard travels to this remote land of mystery to investigate the disappearance of an American worker and sabotage at a timber site. Locals tell him it is the work of spirits of the Amazon, but Malcolm doesn't believe in anything like that--until he sees something he can't explain deep in the jungle. This remastered edition has been scanned from Tim Sale's original artwork and recolored by Matt Hollingsworth, with a new cover by Sale and Dave Stewart!The Amazon #2 of 3Dark Horse's superior twentieth anniversary re-presentation of acclaimed writer Steven T. Seagle and superstar artist Tim Sale's eco-series of man, machine, magic, and Mother Nature continues!

Reporter Malcolm Hillard's journey into the Amazon Jungle takes him deeper into the mystery of a missing American worker and the sabotage of a timber company that followed. The clues lead him to the Jatapu tribe, whose belief in a powerful Amazon spirit may hold the key to the mystery. Drugged and alone in the jungle, Malcolm comes face to face with the answers, but they aren't the ones he expects.
Comic Review: The Amazon #1

Posted by Steve Duin, The OregonianIn an interview at the back of the book, Seagle concedes that The Amazon--in which magazine reporter Malcolm C. Hilliard heads up river in pursuit of a missing American timber worker and a book deal--generated precious little in the way of royalties or a radical shift in Brazil's environmental ethic.

Twenty years later, they're still chopping the rain forest off at the knees, Seagle notes, clear-cutting a chunk of the jungle "roughly the size of the state of Rhode Island" in the last five months of 2008: "I don't know if it's that the reach of comics is too small, the execution is not good enough to have a real rhetorical impact, or if the mindset of comics readers is such that they don't want that kind of social critique in their escapism, though I do think that plays some part," Seagle says:

"I just don't see comics as agents of change."

If change is what you're after, a fully realized--and inspired--story is what you need, and Seagle doesn't get off to a memorable start in the first issue of this miniseries. That American worker has gone missing (or native) even as the sabotage at the timber camp has begun, and the coincidence is clumsy, at best, when Hilliard sees the American disabling a crane as soon as he reaches the camp. Seagle is equally heavy handed with his lampooning of the local Christian missionaries: "The missionaries believe that what they are doing is right--spreading Christianity to the uninformed. But in actuality, it's just more strip-mining. In this case, though, it is not timber or malachite. It's tribal religion values--and culture."
Comment:  I glanced at this comic at my local shop Friday but didn't get it. It looked mildly interesting, but not enough seemed to be happening in the story to grab me.

A comic has to be really special these days to get my attention. I'm hardly buying any single issues anymore because they're too expensive.

Changing the world

Interesting question about comics as an agent of change. That's what I hoped for my PEACE PARTY comics too. But I never thought it would be easy.

To have an effect, I suspect a comic book (or any popular work of art) has to have several components.

1) The comic has to hit a "sweet spot" between entertainment and message. The best comics do this.

For instance, Seagle could've presented the same message about missionaries more artfully. "While the timber harvesters cleared acre after acre, the missionaries did their own cutting and trimming. They carved out a bloody ceremony here, whittled down a heathen idol there. Soon the rough Indian bark was nothing but bits and shavings on the ground. What was left was the white, pulpy core of a man ready to be shaped."

(Okay, you still may not like this. But does anyone think Seagle's version is more entertaining than my version?)

2) The comic has to become popular enough to enter the mainstream culture in various forms. If it isn't made into a movie, a TV series, a toy line, etc., you can't expect it to reach many people.

3) You have to be committed to getting out the message beyond the immediate publication of the comic. Raising awareness of the Amazon is more like a lifetime project than a one-shot deal.

For more on the subject, see Comic Books Featuring Indians.

Below:  Awesome cover. If the interior was a series of paintings like this one, I might've bought it.

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