Thursday, September 30, 2010

Immortal Weapons

That’s Rachel Weisz as Evelyn, “Evy,” from Stephen Sommers’s 1999 blockbuster, “The Mummy.”

It’s a film about two magical books and a beautiful, resourceful librarian who pursues the books, rescuing them from obscurity, lost literally in the ancient sands of time, and rescuing them from ancient monsters.

Hmmm. A beautiful, resourceful librarian who loves books and fights monsters.

The movie is not set here in the real, modern world—of course!—it’s set in a kind of fantasy version of 1926.

The movie is not set here in the real, Western world—of course!—it’s set in a kind of fantasy version of early 20th century Egypt. Egypt. Even as far back as in Plato’s time people regarded civilization in Egypt as the most ancient civilization on earth.

They’ve had books, or things like books, and libraries, or places like libraries, for a very long time in Egypt.



Ever since publishers started returning original art, it’s been a useful source of income to many artists, although all but the most celebrated find that it’s not uniformly easy to sell. There are the “money” pages, which feature good action shots of popular characters, and there are the “meat and potatoes” pages where nothing much happens visually and nobody’s in costume.

Dave Gibbons

As comic books replaced real books—preparatory to TV replacing everything, including real life—this business of “money” pages versus “meat and potatoes” pages always has been a strange issue. [coughs]

The pretense of comics and now graphic novels is that images are powerful and images are entertaining and the whole genre is something like a magical combination of art and commerce.

The reality of comics and now graphic novels is that images are just assembly-line product.

Instead of glorifying images comics trivialize images.

That’s why as enthusiastic and passionate as the tiny, fringe demographic of comic fans may be, everybody behind-the-scenes in the comic industry is at the equal-but-opposite pole of being jaded, cynical and eternally exhausted.

Images become not things you look at and study and fall in love with, but things you flip through to get to the next thing, whatever the fuck the next thing may be—another image, another scene, another story, whatever.



In the film “The Mummy” when the monster demonstrates that its supernatural powers can manipulate even the Sun and Moon, Evy’s friend Rick considers giving up the fight, and points out, “You heard the man. No mortal weapons can kill this guy.”

Evy, ever resourceful, shrugs and says, “Then we are just going to have to find some immortal ones.”

Immortal weapons.

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“The Mummy” at Wikipedia


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