13 November 2007

Splash Panel

Seeing as the last few posts have been a tad serious, and in the aftermath of having watched Octopussy the other evening, I thought it might be nice if I cheered you up by showing you a picture of a clown.

A clown whose leg is unaccountably snapping in three places, admittedly, but a clown nonetheless. Ed the Happy Clown, to be precise, as written and drawn by Chester Brown.

I'm afraid that I've never read the comic, which sounds a decidedly troubling affair:
For those unfamiliar with Brown’s dark hero, Ed is a cheery fellow with a big head who is forced to endure one blackly humorous indignity after another. The story begins when the children’s hospital he’s bound for burns to the ground — with all the kiddies in it. The plot gets grimmer from there. Reading like a profane version of Voltaire’ s Candide, Ed battles flesh-eating rats, befriends a band of pygmies, is imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit and falls in love with a vampire.
Still, odd or not, I adore this panel, which I first saw reproduced in a Comics Journal article years ago. Even taken entirely out of context it's undoubtedly one of my favourite comics panels ever, up there with Brian Bolland's marvellous 'Gaze into the fist of Dredd!' shot from 'Judge Death Lives' and this gem by Bill Sienkiewicz:

Beautiful, isn't it? Devoting an entire page to a picture of a cup of tea with the milk not quite mixed in is pretty daring as comics go, not least because it gives a whole new meaning to the term 'splash page'.

It's from the second issue of Big Numbers, the ode to chaos theory, fractal geometry, and the English midlands that would surely have been Alan Moore's masterpiece had it ever been finished. Sadly, only the first two issues of the projected twelve were ever published: if you're interested in fumbling towards understanding why, you could do a lot worse than reading what Moore has to say about it himself or else get yourself a copy of Eddie Campbell's brilliant Alec: How to be an Artist and read pages 110 to 116.

Actually, you should read the whole blessed thing, but I'll come back to Eddie another day.

For now, just look at this beautiful picture of a cup of tea and ponder what might have been, if The Mandelbrot Set existed anywhere other than the Library of Dream.

No comments: