Funnybook Babylon

December 3, 2007

Brian Wood Comics get off at 116th Street/Columbia : Tale of Two New Yorks

Filed under: Blurbs — Pedro Tejeda @ 2:19 pm

It depends on how well-informed the discussion is. I liking hearing how my work is perceived by readers and how they would categorize my “style,” but too often its a sweeping observation based on just one book, or one type of lead character. I grow very weary of snark, and just today someone pointed me at a review that said every single one of my characters was “privileged and white,” which is, purely looking at the facts, just not true. But getting too upset about that is the path to madness, as is trying to correct people’s ignorance. – Brian Wood

Jamaal shot me this over AIM since I have in the past made note that I can’t go through a single Brian Wood book without feeling like it’s lacking a bit of color. Demo was full of white people except for the Asian guy who flips out. Reading DMZ, I quickly realized this book was not going to go uptown past 125th street. The characters in Channel Zero seem for the most part to be “exotic” instead of ethnic in that Ling Bai kind of way that seems to a proxy for character depiction.

There are a lot of comic books by many other writers out there that have even less melanin going on. So why am I singling out Brian Wood? Compared to industry standards, he’s miles ahead of many books. The answer to this is that Brian Wood’s depiction of New York always bothered me because it never felt like the city I grew up in. It was a New York City missing the neighborhoods that I had messed around during adolescence. All the parts of Nueva York that made me such a proud citizen are not to be found and instead Wood’s New York follows a very close history of gentrification that started about the time Wood first came to the city.

Channel Zero, Wood’s response to the “awesome” years of Giuliani New York, seems to be more interested in free speech and the oppression of artists than in the human rights of the city’s minorities who had a less that pleasant time dealing with cops. Considering that Wood was knee deep within illustration school, why should he not have a different view? There been tons of reactions from the second point of view in Rap music and Spike Lee Movies, so why should Wood not tell his?

The truth is that Wood’s work is still quality and he deserves to tell his stories in his voice. I’m just coming to realization that I just have no interest in that voice. I’m one of those guys who really loves the comic medium, and I really wish there was a different voice out there using the it to tell those stories that tell the other side of New York. It’s one of the reasons I dug the shit out of Sentences. Jamaal thinks part of it is the general marginalization of the industry and I really can’t disagree with him on this front. There was a point and time when even Wood’s voice could not exist. Hopefully I won’t have too long to get the New York I am looking for when comic’s version Junot Diaz comes along.

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