Eurocomics Spotlight : Rikke Villadsen’s “The Sea”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Lost at sea, adrift at sea, swept away by the sea — any and all of these cliches will likely apply to readers of Danish cartoonist Rikke Villadsen’s The Sea, a physically-short but conceptually-dense graphic novel originally published in the artist’s home country in 2011 but only within the last few months making its way to the English-speaking world courtesy of Fantagraphics.

Which is to say, I suppose, that it’s easy to get pulled into the world this book either conjures and/or creates (depending on just how literally one chooses to view the tale it relates), yet impossible to find any firm footing within it.

For my part, I tend to take the proceedings herein as purely allegorical, but your willingness to do so — as well as whatever mileage you get from it — may indeed vary, and that’s all well, good, and more than likely Villadsen’s intention…

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The Alchemy Of Opposing Forces : Daria Tessler’s “Cult Of The Ibis”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

The generally-held view of the ancient mystical pseudo-scientific practice of alchemy is that it was all about turning lead into gold, but my understanding is that this is a rather limited “piece” of the overall alchemical project, which was largely concerned with creating that which didn’t exist before through the union of opposite polarities : male/female, animate/inanimate, precious metal/base metal, etc. Even that’s probably selling the whole “art” short, mind you, but for purposes of this review and its subject — Daria Tessler’s newly-released Fantagraphics Underground fancy hardcover graphic novel Cult Of The Ibis — it’ll do in a pinch.

We’ve lavished praise upon Tessler’s gorgeous riso-printed publications from Perfectly Acceptable Press on this site previously, but how well her rich, intricate style would translate both into the confines of more traditional “comic book” storytelling and, crucially, into black and white was an intriguing question for this critic as I…

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Spring Breakdown #3: Open Water 2: Adrift (dir by Hans Horn)

The 2006 film, Open Water 2: Adrift, is a film about a group of people who are literally too stupid to live.

Now, that may sound like a harsh judgment but just consider what this film is about.  A group of shallow friends get together for a birthday party on a yacht.  They head out to the middle of the ocean.  One-by-one, they all get into the water.  One of the friends has been terrified of the water ever since her father drowned in front of her.  She doesn’t want to get in the water so, of course, the owner of the boat picks her up and jumps overboard with her.  With the exception of a sleeping infant, everyone is now in the water.

Oh!  And guess what!

It didn’t occur to anyone to lower the ladder before getting in the ocean.  That means there’s no way to get back on the boat!  And now, everyone’s stuck in the water where they’ll presumably eventually die of either hypothermia or just general stupidity.  They’ll also end up yelling at each other and arguing about whose fault it is.  They’ll all discuss issues of wealth, religion, and envy.  There’s nothing like a weighty theological discussion being conducted by a bunch of idiots floating in the ocean.

Of course, they do make a few attempts to get back on the boat.  One guy tries to use a knife to climb back up the side of the boat but he just ends up getting stabbed instead.  An attempt to grab hold of an American flag just leads to desecrated symbol of patriotism.  One girl decides to pray, just to be reprimanded by the group atheist.  At one point, everyone takes off their swimsuits and they attempt to tie them into a makeshift rope.  It doesn’t work but now everyone’s naked.  This movie knows what it’s doing.

We get a lot of shots of people floating listlessly in the ocean.  In order to pad out the run time, there’s a lot of pointless slow motion.  Amy (Susan May Pratt), the hydrophobe, has a flashback to her father’s death and it’s amazing how little sympathy the film manages to generate for someone who watched helplessly while a parent drowned.  Because Amy’s supposed to be scared of the water, she spends most of the movie floating around with this dumbass look on her face.  I’m a hydrophobe too.  If I found myself in this situation, I’d probably scream until I exhausted myself and drowned.  But I wouldn’t float around with this stupid beatific look on my face.

This film was sold as being a sequel to Open Water, though it actually went into production before Open Water was released.  After Open Water was a surprise box office success, the film’s title was changed from Adrift to Open Water 2: Adrift.  There are obvious similarities between the two films but the major difference is that the couple in Open Water ended up stranded through no fault of their own.  On the other hand, the folks in Open Water 2 were just too dumb to lower a ladder.

Open Water was effective but depressing.  Open Water 2 is just kind of stupid.

Music Video Of The Day: Mission Impossible by Lindsey Stirling, feat. Piano Guys (2013, dir by ????)

It’s definitely not easy carrying out a top secret spy mission while playing a violin but if anyone could pull it off, it would be Lindsey Stirling!

Please enjoy this fun little video from 2013!