Our favorite things this week are inspired by this weekend's comic con and "The Americans."
Shooting Superheroes without CGI: On first glance, the comics panel shots on the Intrapanel tumblr page look like a literal reenactment of Roy Lichtenstein’s paintings, minus the painterly technique. Both take comic art out of context - out of the panel, in some cases at Intrapanel - and both fetishize comics by focusing lovingly on their graphic components. But where Lichtenstein created anonymous images and tried to obscure his own hand by methodically recreating Ben-Day dots, Matt Maxwell at Intrapanel draws attention to himself as he photographs close-ups of comic book pages that are clearly spread out in front of him. The focus softens at edges of the shot where the page curves away from the camera, and the grain of the newsprint is tangible. He could scan his images, but all personality would be lost in the process.
Maxwell’s eye runs to details that have the fingerprints of the late ‘70s all over them - word balloons stuffed with impossible dialogue, post-Jack Kirby visual dynamics that defy anatomical possibility, and the visual detritus of the counterculture, marketed to teenagers. He appears to have been a Marvel guy, and he doesn’t obliterate the panels’ context - only the narrative framework. He gives the writers and artists credit for each piece, and he notes the artists and inkers he particularly liked. But as much as Intrapanel’s about comics, it’s a love letter by Maxwell to the time he spent collecting them and reading them obsessively. To the time before he bagged them and preserved them, when they were a disreputable passion that likely drove his parents crazy. As such, it’s a celebration of comics as objects and the meaning we invest in them expressed in an intangible, ephemeral online space. (Alex Rawls)
At War with Fleetwood Mac: The Americans is the winter television premiere I'm most excited about among the many airing this month and in January. It's not only fascinating for its unique (and controversial) perspective on the Cold War or its intense look at the struggles of American marriages, but for its adept music choices. The Americans, like Breaking Bad and The Wire, understand how effective popular music can be for a dramatic television show. The A.V. Club recently wrote an insightful piece about the show’s impressive use of music, with one major standout — the series' premiere stunning opening scene set to Fleetwood Mac's "Tusk." The montage is a brilliant overture for the show's first season, hinting at the suave, sexy espionage to come via the song's exotic instrumentation and tense afrobeats. The songs transition from quiet and slinking to big and brassy is the perfect metaphor for the season's explosive second half. (Brian Sibille)