Thursday, 27 June 2013

Jack Cole

It has been a while since I have written anything.  Mostly I have been reading books on semiotics and theories derived from semiotics to help explain how comics make meaning.  I have also been reading history books on comics.  And though many of this has been helpful and interesting. I just didn't feel like writing on it.

But I just finished a book on Jack Cole that was written by Art Spiegelman, of Maus fame.  This was more of an essay interspersed with issues of Plastic Man and True Crime stories, as well as several images from Cole's years as a Playboy artist.  I wanted more writing from Spiegelman, especially on how Cole was a masterful artist and storyteller for Plastic Man.  What really came through was a humanizing of Cole.  I'm not quite sure how Spiegelman did it, but when I came near the end and read about Cole's suicide my heart leaped in pain for Cole and those that loved him.  I can only imagine Hugh Hefner was devastated, as he was the recipient of one of the suicide letters.  This is a quick book, about 4 hours to read, but there is enough in here to love the work of Cole, and question his sudden end.

The pieces selected are either important to comic history, "Murder, Morphine, and Me" or show an artist apparently screaming through his narratives.  Maybe the perfect selections helped to reveal an artist asking for help but no one had any idea, and this created a much more human and complicated characterization.  It was no accident that Spiegelman chose these stories, and I wonder if he is manipulating the reader or he reads comics as a Freudian.