Ein Vorwort zu meinem nächsten Comic

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Neal Adams ist kein Freund des Batmobils. Batman müsste in einen Stau geraten, jedes Mal, wenn er in die Stadt fährt. Deshalb ist Adams‘ Batman ein Parkour-Läufer, der sich so oft wie möglich zu Fuß bewegt: Über die Dächer der Stadt hinweg. Neal Adams und Frank Millers Batman sind sich darin gleich. Zwar haben viele Leser_innen das zum Panzer umgerüstete Batmobil aus The Dark Knight Returns in guter Erinnerung. Aber Miller behandelt den überdimensionierten Klapperkasten eher stiefmütterlich. Nur wenige Seiten lang darf Batman damit fahren. Ansonsten ist auch Millers Superheld zuallererst ein Athlet, der mit großen Sätzen ganze Skylines nimmt.

To be a superhero“, schreibt Scott Bukatman (2013: 175), „you’ve got to be able to move“. Ich selbst denke dabei nicht zuerst ans Fliegen, das für Superhelden ansonsten typisch ist. Im zeitgenössischen Comic ist das Fliegen zu einer prosaischen Art der Fortbewegung verkommen: „The sight of a superhero soaring above a tableau of skyscrapers has become such a commonplace over the past seventy and more years that it’s effectively lost its power to surprise and impress“ (Smith 2012, im Cache). Heutzutage müssen Bilder vom Fliegen sehr sorgfältig gestaltet sein, will der oder die Künstler_in das Publikum beeindrucken. Ein gutes Beispiel bietet eine Miss America-Zeichnung von Jamie McKelvie, veröffentlicht in einer von Marvel Comicsʹ Point OneAnthologien. Comic-Kritiker Colin Smith (2012) lobt McKelvies kluge Wahl der Kameraperspektive. Die Betrachter_innen blicken über Miss Americas Schulter hinweg hunderte Stockwerke in die Großstadt hinab: „[B]y ramping up the sense of vertigo in his composition, the artist accentuates how absurdly remarkable the very fact of Miss America’s flight is“ (ebd.).

Stadträume sind im Superhelden-Comic keine Hindernisse, die es zu überwinden gilt, um ans Ziel zu gelangen. Es sind Umgangs-, Interaktionräume. Umgegangen wird mit der Architektur selbst, durch physische Bezugnahmen auf deren distinktive Gestalt. Diese Bezugnahmen formulieren eine implizite Theorie von der Natur der Stadt: „Through the superhero, we gain a freedom of movement not constrained by the ground-level order imposed by the urban grid. The city becomes legible through signage and captions and the hero’s panoramic and panoptic gaze. It is at once the site of anonymity and flamboyance. Above all, soaring above all, the superhero city is a place of weightlessness, a site that exists, at least in part, of playful defiance of the spirit of gravity“ (Bukatman 2013: 175).

Zeichner wie Frank Miller und Will Eisner entpuppen sich denn auch als Philosophen der Großstadt:

Eisner: My stories respond to the environment. It influences my style, and yours. The stark black-and-white indicates city lighting. In the beginning, when I was doing The Spirit, I was obsessed with the vertical. Everything in The Spirit was either up or down. The guy who comes from a farm, his concept and vision are horizontal. Mine was in the vertical. So lighting was very important. Those were the graphic influences.

Miller: One thing that I really feel got kind of lost for a long time there […] was shapes. Massive shapes. As styles changed and comic book art got more photography-oriented, the detail started taking over and the scale was expressed by how many windows you could see, not with this monolith of a building with no windows. I really want to get back to boldly saying, »That’s a big rectangle over there.« That’s what I love about the scale of it. I don’t need to see all those little windows all the time. (Eisner/Miller 2005: 266)

Miller formuliert ein Bedürfnis, den Stadtraum zeichnerisch zu formalisieren. Analog dazu möchte ich nächstes mal einen Comic präsentieren, in dem ich versucht habe, Bewegung selbst, und den darin inbegriffenen Raumtheorien, formalisierte Gestalt zu geben.

Bukatman, Scott 2013: „A Song of the Urban Superhero“, in: Hatfield, Charles / Heer, Jeet / Worcester, Kent (Hg.): „The Superhero Reader“, Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 170-198.

Eisner, Will / Miller, Frank 2005: Eisner/Miller, Interview geführt von Charles Brownstein, Milwaukie, OR: Dark Horse.

Smith, Colin 2012: Young Avengers, Ant-Man & Forge: One Last Look at „Marvel Now! Point One“ (2 of 2), http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:L5zoBjJjfIkJ:http://toobusythinkingboutcomics.blogspot.com/2012/10/young-avengers-ant-man-forge-one-last.html%2Bcolin+smith+young+avengers+miss+america&hl=de&&ct=clnk (07.10.2015, im Cache).

A foreword to my next comic

It’s my understanding that Neal Adams is no fan of the Batmobile. According to the artist, Batman should be held in a traffic jam every time he drives into town. For this reason, Adam’s Batman is a parkour runner, traversing the city by foot, above its skyline, across its roofs. Neal Adam’s and Frank Miller’s Batman resemble each other in that regard. Many readers fondly remember the Batmobile from The Dark Knight Returns, reimagined as an instrument of urban warfare. But Batman is allowed to ride that old clunker for only a handful of pages. The rest of the time, Miller, too, treats his protagonist as an athlete, who takes entire buildings with single bounds.

Scott Bukatman (2013: 175) emphasizes, that to „be a superhero, you’ve got to be able to move.“ Typically, this ability means the power of flight. But in contemporary superhero comics, flying has often been reduced to a rather prosaic means of transportation: „The sight of a superhero soaring above a tableau of skyscrapers has become such a commonplace over the past seventy and more years that it’s effectively lost its power to surprise and impress“ (Smith 2012, on Google Chache). Nowadays, depictions of flight have to be very carefully crafted to wow readers. A Jamie McKelvie illustration of Miss America, published in one of Marvel ComicsPoint One-anthologies, provides a good example. Colin Smith applauds McKelvie’s choice of an unusual camera angle. As readers, we are looking over the superheroine’s shoulder down onto skyscrapers that extend into the image for hundreds of floors: „[B]y ramping up the sense of vertigo in his composition, the artist accentuates how absurdly remarkable the very fact of Miss America’s flight is“ (ibid.).

Through the kind of movement, more is accomplished than just covering distances. In superhero comics, urban space is not merely an obstacle to be overcome. It’s an interactive environment. The object that superheros interact with, is architecture, in its distinctive, individual appearances. The nature of this interaction is physical. Its implications, though, are theoretical: „The city becomes legible through signage and captions and the hero’s panoramic and panoptic gaze. It is at once the site of anonymity and flamboyance. Above all, soaring above all, the superhero city is a place of weightlessness, a site that exists, at least in part, of playful defiance of the spirit of gravity“ (Bukatman 2013: 175).

Frank Miller and Will Eisner, both most accomplished artists of metropolitan subjects, developed a veritable philosophy of urban spaces:

Eisner: My stories respond to the environment. It influences my style, and yours. The stark black-and-white indicates city lighting. In the beginning, when I was doing The Spirit, I was obsessed with the vertical. Everything in The Spirit was either up or down. The guy who comes from a farm, his concept and vision are horizontal. Mine was in the vertical. So lighting was very important. Those were the graphic influences.

Miller: One thing that I really feel got kind of lost for a long time there […] was shapes. Massive shapes. As styles changed and comic book art got more photography-oriented, the detail started taking over and the scale was expressed by how many windows you could see, not with this monolith of a building with no windows. I really want to get back to boldly saying, »That’s a big rectangle over there.« That’s what I love about the scale of it. I don’t need to see all those little windows all the time. (Eisner/Miller 2005: 266)

Here, Miller argues for a formalization of the cityscape. Analogous to his reasoning, I want to present a comic, in which I not only tried to formalize the surrounding world of the superheroes, but the very means, by which they give relevance to their environments: Movement, and its theoretical implications.

Bukatman, Scott 2013: „A Song of the Urban Superhero,“ in: Hatfield, Charles / Heer, Jeet / Worcester, Kent (Ed.): „The Superhero Reader,“ Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 170-198.

Eisner, Will / Miller, Frank 2005: Eisner/Miller, Interview conducted by Charles Brownstein, Milwaukie, OR: Dark Horse.

Smith, Colin 2012: Young Avengers, Ant-Man & Forge: One Last Look at „Marvel Now! Point One“ (2 of 2), http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:L5zoBjJjfIkJ:http://toobusythinkingboutcomics.blogspot.com/2012/10/young-avengers-ant-man-forge-one-last.html%2Bcolin+smith+young+avengers+miss+america&hl=de&&ct=clnk (07.10.2015, on Google Cache).

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