Friday, August 10, 2007

Review - Casanova 8

By Matt Fraction and Fábio Moon
Letters by Sean Konot, Cover by Gabriel Bá
Published by Image Comics, August 2008

The very first time I read an issue of CASANOVA was on a bus from Milwaukee to Chicago, following a visit to the Masters of American Comics exhibit, in order to see original pages from LITTLE NEMO and POPEYE. I read it and I thought, “oh, okay. He’s trying to write a Grant Morrison comic book.” It wasn’t as good as a Grant Morrison comic -- what the eff is? -- but it was fun for all of its sixteen pages of comic book, five pages of backmatter. I came back for issue two.

And I came back for issue three, and four, and five-six-seven.

What kept me coming back -- and what I look forward to as I read every issue -- is that backmatter that comes after the story proper. Writer Matt Fraction talks about process, about how each issue was constructed, about how seeing the giant cranes on the Oakland side of the San Francisco Bay (which I’ve been looking at myself for the past year) informed a scene, or a visual, or an entire issue. He talks about overheard conversations that came along at just the right time, and about how the act of creating CASANOVA is a testament to the life that he lives. Folks like Cormac McCarthy go out of their way to NOT talk about the creative process, to let the work rise and fall by virtue of the work itself. But it’s not that simple all of the time -- with CASANOVA, part of the work is the life that surrounds it. I like that a lot. And by the time issues five or six were coming out -- and far and away by the time this issue, issue eight, came out -- I was making special trips to the comic shop on the Wednesdays a new CASANOVA was due. It still feels very Morrison-influenced (especially in eight’s backmatter, where Fraction recounts writing Casanova recover from an illness, so that HE might recover from an illness), but instead of feeling like sheer imitation the way issue one struck me, it now feels like Fraction is building on a tradition instead of replicating it.

The art in this issue, which starts a new story arc, is taken over by Fábio Moon, twin brother and studio-mate of CASANOVA co-creator Gabriel Bá. Though it comes from a different artist, there’s a certain inspired-pop-magic in twins trading off on illustrating a book that very much concerns itself with evil, alternate universe, and sexy twindom. Fábio and Bá are fantastic, apart or together, as I gushed on about a little bit in my review for 5, and they’re on the verge of the rest of the world recognizing it, too.

One thing that leapt out at me -- there’s a pretty unfortunate foot on page four, as Casanova kicks backward at a up-to-no-good nurse … but even that is part of CASANOVA’S charm, watching quality comics craftsmen draw weird looking feet from time to time, or slip into action-comics patterns only to shake themselves free of it a few issues later. CASANOVA is one of the special ones -- a comic book worth reading, re-reading, and examining from all angles.

Tell me more: Matt Fraction, Fábio Moon & Gabriel Bá.

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