< Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse: Y: The Last Man

Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse

Monday, July 18, 2005

Y: The Last Man

Being the last man on Earth ought to be fun... what gives?

Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio: a fellow
of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy

Y: The Last Man is the creation of Eisner and Harvey award nominated author Brian K. Vaughan. Through his career Vaughan has worked on every major DC and Marvel character. Prior to his foray into the comic book field, Vaughan worked in an insane asylum, which may shine through in his work but, says Vaughan " I just make crap up more than anything else."

Pia Guerra is the penciller for Y: The Last Man. She has worked on many independent and smaller-run comics prior to Y: The Last Man. Most comic books or "graphic novels" as they've come to be known divvy up the art duties between two artists. One, the penciller gives the basic overall shape of the images, exactly as you see at the end of the second graphic novel. The inker (or if you've seen Chasing Amy, you might call them the tracer)goes over the pencils in ink (go figure) providing a more bold outline and shading effects. After the inking process, the art is then gone-over with an eraser to remove all traces of pencils. Our tracer is José Marzan, Jr.

Y: The Last Man is published by DC comics under their Vertigo brand, the flagship of which was a series by Neil Gaiman called the Sandman. There was (and is) a growing number of comic books published for the adult audience only. Vertigo was an effort to bring them all under the same umbrella with such titles as Swamp Thing, Hellblazer and the ever popular series Preacher by Garth Ennis (which is where Yorick's 'Fuck Communism' zippo comes from).

A very breif bit of history... The Culper Ring was the spy network of George Washington during the revolutionary war.

This series of graphic novels, which is still ongoing, deals with the life of the last man on Earth, who does quite a bit better for himself than the last woman on Earth. Like many graphic novels, there is a certain style employed which can make you laugh your ass off or feel sick or both at the same time.

I have an abundance of questions for discussion, no need to get through them all.

Q. How does the portrayal of women differ in Y: The Last Manfrom other stories we've read?

Q. Do we employ double standards with respect to Hero's love life before the tragedy?

Q. Does Yorick have a responsibility to the rest of the world? If so, does this justify the revocation of his rights?

Q. Are the Republicans right about the need for 'something new' to replace the old constitution?

Q. Is it really romantic of Yorick to still wish for Beth or is he just being foolish?

Q. Is 355's devotion to duty realistic?

Q. Is Victoria (of the Amazons) performing a man's role in some way? Usually weirdos like her are men (Manson, Koresh etc.)

Q. Do the women of Marrisville still have a debt to society?

Q. Are they suitable custodians of the prison system?

Q. Have art and imagination failed to save the world?

Q. WHAT did you think of 711's suicide intervention?

Q. Do the Sons of Arizona accurately reflect the consequences of First World self-interestedness?


Q. Were you surprised at what you found in a comic book? Shocked?

Comic books (at least in the USA) were once governed by the Comics Code Authority an industry self-regulation guideline enacted in 1953 after a lot of media attention on the relation between comic books and juvenile delinquency according to Dr. Fredric Wertham, M.D. in his Seduction of the Innocent. The industry feared that government regulations would be enacted curtailing their right to free speech and so silenced themselves. Of course novels, magazines and movies weren't subject to any such guidelines... Now, as you can tell from having read Y: The Last Man, the CCA is defunct, and comics have been able to flourish as an ordinary form of literature.

Stop and think about it: You have pictures. Pictures are great, adults like pictures, pictures hang in art galleries. And you have words, and words are wonderful things. You can get the Nobel Prize for Literature just by using words. Somehow, as soon as you put them together, you are perceived to be doing something that’s either for children or for subliterates, and there’s no reason for that. Words and pictures are magnificent, wonderful things, and they can work together, they can work in ironic counterpoint, and you can use them in pretty much any way you like. -Neil Gaiman after winning the World Fantasy Award for short fiction for his version of A Midsummer Night's Dream and the subsequent change in the rules to prevent a comic book from ever qualifying for this award.


At 12:48 PM, Blogger Miriam Jones said...

Lots to think about. I look forward to the discussion.

At 7:11 PM, Blogger Lucy said...

Great discussion. Thanks for bringing the "Comics Code Authority" to our attention. It was interesting to say the least. Your presentation was very informative and it was easy to see that you truly have a passion for the subject. I look forward to picking your brain on the subject.

(Jacqui, thanks for the heads up on "Box Office Poison." Maybe when I'm done picking Joe's brain I can move onto you. Hmmm...picking brains, that does go with our Zombie theme.)

At 4:54 PM, Blogger Heather said...

Love the Neil Gaiman quote! And the discussion was informative and enjoyable. Great stuff!


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