Going to Town
Well, this week certainly was the week of Ice Have, at least it was at The Galaxy. Marc Sobel started out the week with his Crack Shots column sigularly devoted to Clowes book, then there was my look at the title, and now we have Chris Allen examining it as well.While Marc's wasn't a review (actually, none of the Ice Haven pieces qualify as "reviews", I think, and as well they shouldn't) but an examination of what it means to be a comic book critic that had me questioning everything I've ever written, and Chris', well, there's a reason he's one of the best. Chris' look at Ice Haven is, in my opinion the best thing he's ever written, but I'm certain I've not read everything he's written either. Mine, I think, is slightly more straightforward, resulting in a distance I often feel when reading my own work (is it just me, or does everyone feel it?), than either Marc's or Chris', which, in hindsight, I regret. Am I now examinig the examinations? Yeah, I suppose I am.
Part of trying to be a critic or reviewer, or whatever you choose to call it, is learning to see thing you might otherwise ignore. There are always parts to the whole, there is never just the whole. You need to be able to identify what works, what doesnt and why. It's fascinating for me to see how other people see something and how it can really change the way I look at that same thing.
I thought little of Clowes' Harry Naybors character when reading and re-reading (many times might I add) Ice Haven. Certainly there is an importance to him, but he never had the impact some of the other characters had for me. But, seeing him through Marc Sobel's eyes brought certain things to light that I'd either not noticed before or perhaps (and more likely) I'd chosen to ignore.
The same can be said of Chris Allen's look. Only, instead of Naybors it was Vida. I'd never thought of the obvious comparison to Clowes when looking at Violet, for some reason it just never struck me. Certainly I'd picked up Clowes' thinly-veild attack (that is probably the wrong word) on Hollywood and those who "sell-out", but never once did I relate that to Clowes own feelings on adapting his work for the big screen.
Does any of that make me a bad critic? Hell if I know. To be honest I feel like a kid wildly out of his element when looking at my reviews compared to others at the Galaxy, and that's exactly what I am. But, you can't make a horse jump a fence unless you first get on the horse. I'm on the horse. I might kick him too hard sometimes, and I probably look awkward sitting there to some, but I'm on the damn horse and eventually I'll jump the fence.
So, since we're already talking Ice Haven, let's talk some more.
In his piece Chris takes issue with Clowes including the Leopold & Loeb story, and while I see his point, I thought the inclusion of the Leopold and Loeb story was very informative. I'd certainly never read anything on the caes. I do remember reading/hearing about it, but never at length, likely because it's an 80-year-old murder case. I couldn't help but notic the similarities between Carmichael and Charles and Leopold and Loeb. Not just the name alliteration, but Carmichael's desire to impress Charles either through his words or actions and there are undercurrents of something more than friendship, at least the want of something more than friendship, between the two (the crime of Leopold and Loeb is said to have been one of passion, not for the boy, but to please the other, Leopold admits to killing only because Loeb wanted it, and it's said that they were "involved"). Carmichael has sporadic mood changes, very much like Loeb had, according to Leopold, and then there is Carmichaels sudden change of heart, which mirrors Leopold's change while in prison. Like Carmichael, Leopold learned that helping and loving others is far more fulfilling than being cold and calculating. Then there's the revelation that Carmichael did not kidnap nor kill the young boy in Ice Haven, just as some believe that Leopold and Loeb were framed for the kidnapping and murder of Bobby Franks (of course, this flies in the face of what Leopold himself wrote in his book Life Plus 99 Years).
I guess I've rambled on about this long enough. You can read the Ice Haven pieces here, here, and here, and you can read about Leopold and Loeb here and here. It's well worth investigating, and if you haven't read Ice Haven yet, well, what are you waiting for?