Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Airtight Garage #2

The Airtight Garage #2, August 1993, Epic Comics
writer/artist: Moebius
translator/editor: R.J.M. Lofficier
colorists: Isabelle Leconte, Rick Wayne, Arlette Auvergne, Allison Kendis, Chris Palomino
letterers: John Workman, Gaspar Saladino, Kevin Nowlan, Phil Felix

My girlfriend and I went to a monthly swap meet in Pasadena today, and, to my surprise and delight, I found and promptly purchased a few comic book gems for both my collection and the A Comic A Day challenge. Among them was Megaton #2, the early '80s fanzine that featured the first appearance of the pre-Image Savage Dragon, and some of Erik Larsen's earliest published work. As a fan of Larsen that attributes his work on Amazing Spider-man as the harbinger to my fanaticism for comics, this find was nothing short of miraculous for me, as I figured the Megaton series had such a limited print run that I'd never find any issues, despite my multi-faceted and never-ending search for obscure issues -- and, in fact, I also found numbers four and five. Though the third issue that stars Dragon and Vanguard on the cover was understandably absent, I'm more confident than ever that I'll eventually find it. And score it for fifty cents, as I did these? We'll see.

Incidentally, I also scored The Watchmen for five bucks, a deal as surprising as the fact that I didn't have that graphic novel already.

But I'm not reviewing any of these comic books today.

I started reading another issue today until I found The Airtight Garage #2, an Epic comic reprinting Moebius' graphic novel from the '70s. When I went to the Alternative Press Expo in April, I visited with fellow small press comics publisher Gary Ellis, creator of the poignantly written and beautifully illustrated Noburbs, and his girlfriend talked excitedly about the works of Moebius, so when I saw his Airtight Garage in the fifty cent box today, I decided to give it a shot. Frankly, I didn't get it. Oh, the issue was beautifully illustrated, and Moebius' meticulous artwork tells a very intricate story, but this story's fantasy-based political overtones were beyond my humbly terrestrial understanding. Yesterday, I posed the thought that we fanboys may be jaded by the given of aliens in comics today, but Moebius is telling a definitively human tale simply in the context of another world, and the contexts clashed to my meager sensibilities. Yes, this is truly a "it's not you, it's me" situation. Best as I can tell, at its base, The Airtight Garage is a story about a creator getting back in touch with his creation, as protagonist Major Grubert tours his pocket universe in search for his enemies' foot soldiers. These characters are complex and realistic, though a bit too ethereal in their thinking for my tastes. My favorite line in the issue, and the one that tethered me to the allegory overall, was:

"Is it true that your species is made up of seventy-three different sexes? And that you are simultaneously aquatics, aerials, and subterraneans . . . although not well built for racing . . ."

These singularly outrageous statements remind me of Warren Ellis' forays into fantasy writing, and Moebius' art reminds me of a Frank Quitely predecessor. I wonder how influential The Airtight Garage was on modern comics.

Further, part of my disconnect with this issue may have been the translation. I assume Epic (a.k.a. Marvel) simply removed the lettering of Moebius' original run and replaced it with an English translation; however, some of the panels cannot accommodate our language and seem to cram too much narrative into a space, literally running letters into the art or deliberately under it. It was distracting form, and I really wonder if this story would have been best told with sidebar third person script versus its interwoven dialogue. Moebius' art is really the feature, anyway, in my opinion.

So, like this good Major, I found something today within my chosen land that I didn't know I'd find. In my case, it was a veritable treasure, and like the Major is learning in his makeshift garage, nothing is as airtight as we believe.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Most of Giraud's best jokes are lost in the translation. You can usually puzzle out the meaning of the French text with the help of an online translator.