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Saga of the Swamp Thing # 32, 33 34 - Moore, McManus, Randall Bissette

Written by Arion on Sunday, December 09 2012 and posted in Blog
Saga of the Swamp Thing # 32, 33 34 - Moore, McManus, Randall Bissette
Stephen Bissette & John Totleben

Writers create their own language, and there are as many particular languages as writers in the world. They all have different narrative styles. There are, however, some cases in which the writers actually invent a new idiom. Such is the case of Anthony Burgess and his outstanding novel “A Clockwork Orange” and the Nadsat dialect the characters speak (which was present also in Stanley Kubrick’s film), or in Julio Cortázar’s “Rayuela” (the giglic).

Alan Moore carries out an extraordinary idiomatic experiment in “Pog” (published in Saga of the Swamp Thing # 32 in January 1985). Mixing two different words into a single one, Moore bends the linguistic limits of English and adds an unprecedented layer of complexity in a story about a group of aliens that come to Earth in search of a new habitat. 

“Pog” is entirely told from the perspective of the aliens, and as readers we quickly understand this strange new language in which Swamp Thing is described as a gardiner (a guardian and a gardener) and humans are animalogics (animals of logic). These aliens are the last ones of their race, they have spent centuries traveling from one planet to another, searching for a “New Lady”, a new Gea that would welcome them. In their planet of origin, animals lived in perfect harmony with the environment, until a race of arrogant biped simians started killing all animals, depredating the ecosystem and ultimately causing the destruction of their world (sounds familiar, doesn’t it?).

When their ship, which is similar to a turtle, lands in the swamp, they feel they have found paradise. There is something beautifully tragic about the naiveté of these aliens, they are tired of singing the “song of extinction” and as one of them tries to communicate with Swamp Thing using primitive drawings the truth is revealed. Sadness and desperation invades these aliens when they discover that in this planet there is a race of biped simians that slaughter animals and destroy nature. With the death of one of the aliens, it’s made clear for them that they must leave Earth. And so they do, knowing that they’ll never again find a planet with the necessary natural resources to sustain them. They’re doomed to die searching for something that is not meant to be found. 

The artist in this chapter is the talented Shawn McManus, and he does a truly magnificent work. The design of Pog and his crew is excellent, and even though I read this story for the first time over 12 years ago I’ve never been able to forget his visual style. The swamp looks like an unknown land, and even Swamp Thing is portrayed slightly different, as if we were seeing him with the eyes of the extraterrestrials. Above all, the sadness and innocence of these characters is impeccably expressed by McManus inspired lines. 
Saga of the Swamp Thing # 32, 33 34 - Moore, McManus, Randall Bissette
Pog & Hystricide

The overtly detailed style of artists Bissette and Totleben required more time than they had, so other artists were in charge of self-conclusive stories. Such was the case of Abandoned Houses (February 1985), in which Alan Moore pays homage to the first Swamp Thing stories. The first and last pages are written by Moore and illustrated by Ron Randall and the rest are a reprint. Abigail dreams about two mysterious men, named Cain and Abel, one of them lives in the house of mysteries and other in the house of secrets, she can only visit one of them. Here we get a reprint of an old Swamp Thing story published in The House of Secrets # 92 (July 1971), the authors are Len Wein and the legendary Bernie Wrightson. 
Saga of the Swamp Thing # 32, 33 34 - Moore, McManus, Randall Bissette
Shawn McManus

Finally, in “Rite of Spring” (March 1985), we see nature blosso-ming, and passions growing beyond all measure as Abigail at last decides to admit she loves Swamp Thing: “It’s impossible, it’s bizarre, it probably isn’t even legal […] you’re a plant for god’s sake!”. Swamp Thing is overjoyed to hear this, because he had also been in love with Abigail for a long time. As a creature that does not belong to the animal kingdom, Swamp Thing cannot have sexual intercourse with Abby, but he offers her something else, something more powerful and unforgettable. He makes her part of him, and she sees the world as he sees it. She sees nature as a whole, she senses every form of life in the swamp, she breathes a newfound energy, she hears the pulse of Earth itself and she finally realizes that this communion with Swamp Thing has been an epiphany.
Saga of the Swamp Thing # 32, 33 34 - Moore, McManus, Randall Bissette
Ron Randall

In “Pog” we saw that as humans we are “the loneliest animals of all”, unable to connect with nature, incapable of feeling empathy for other animal species. In “Rite of Spring”, however, we see the opposite. We see Abby, a normal human being, acquiring the most transcen-dental knowledge regarding life and nature. She becomes one with the world. Stephen Bissette and John Totleben capture the lyricism in Moore’s script and turn every page into visual poetry, their level of creativity exceeds all expectations and ultimately captivates even the more coldhearted readers. This graphic experimentation is accompanied by Tatjana Wood’s fascinating use of colors, unlike anything we could have found in other 80s comics.  

The most talented and brilliant writer and the most creative and perfectionist artists worked together to produce an outstanding masterwork. Neil Gaiman, in his foreword reminds us that “With these stories The Saga of the Swamp Thing made comics history”, and Jamie Delano in his introduction emphasizes that “Moore was working to transform the medium of his choice from what I, in common with many others, had regarded as an often cynically produced pile-it-high, sell-it-cheap form of entertainment into something vital – something with currency”. Alan Moore certainly succeeded, he fought against the irrelevancy of most comic books and he created a masterpiece that almost 30 years later is just as valuable and poignant, if not more. 
Saga of the Swamp Thing # 32, 33 34 - Moore, McManus, Randall Bissette
Bernie Wrightson

Los escritores crean su propio lenguaje, y hay tantos lenguajes particulares como escritores en el mundo. Todos tienen estilos narrativos diferentes. Hay, sin embargo, algunos casos en los que los escritores de hecho inventan un nuevo idioma. Tal es el caso de Anthony Burgess y su extra-ordinaria novela "La naranja mecánica" y el dialecto Nadsat de los personajes (también presente en el film de Stanley Kubrick), o en “Rayuela” de Julio Cortázar (el gíglico).

Alan Moore realiza un sobresaliente experimento idiomático en "Pog" (publicado en "Saga of the Swamp Thing" # 32 en enero de 1985). Mezclando dos diferentes palabras en una sola, Moore retuerce los límites lingüísticos del inglés y añade una capa de complejidad sin precedentes en una historia sobre un grupo de aliens que vienen a la Tierra en busca de un nuevo hábitat. 

“Pog” se cuenta por completo desde la perspectiva de los aliens, y como lectores entendemos con rapidez este extraño nuevo lenguaje en el que Swamp Thing es descrito como un 'guardinero' (guardián y jardinero) y los humanos son animalógicos (animales de la lógica). Estos aliens son los últimos de su raza, han viajado durante siglos de un planeta a otro, buscando a una "Nueva Dama", una nueva Gea que les daría la bienvenida. En su planeta de origen, los animales vivían en perfecta harmonía con el medio ambiente, hasta que una raza de arrogantes simios bípedos empezaron a matar a todos los animales, depredando el ecosistema y, por último, causando la destrucción de su mundo (suena familiar, ¿no es así?).
Saga of the Swamp Thing # 32, 33 34 - Moore, McManus, Randall Bissette
Rite of Spring / Rito de primavera

Cuando su nave, que es similar a una tortuga, aterriza en el pantano, ellos sienten que han encontrado el paraíso. Hay algo bello y trágico en la inocencia de estos aliens, ellos están cansados de cantar la "canción de la extinción" y cuando uno de ellos intenta comunicarse con Swamp Thing usando dibujos primitivos la verdad es revelada. La tristeza y la desesperación invaden a los aliens cuando descubren que en este planeta existe una raza de simios bípedos que masacran animales y destruyen la naturaleza. Tras la muerte de uno de los aliens, se hace evidente que deben abandonar la Tierra. Y se van, sabiendo que nunca más volverán a encontrar un planeta con los recursos naturales necesarios para cobijarlos. Están condenados a morir buscando algo que no encontrarán.

El artista de este capítulo es el talentoso Shawn McManus, y hace un trabajo realmente magnífico. El diseño de Pog y su tripulación es excelente, e incluso al haber leído esta historia por primera vez hace 12 años, nunca pude olvidar su estilo visual. El pantano se ve como una tierra desconocida, e incluso Swamp Thing es retratado de manera diferente, como si lo estuviéramos viendo con los ojos de los extraterrestres. Por encima de todo, la tristeza y la inocencia de los personajes es impecablemente expresada por las inspiradas líneas de McManus.
Saga of the Swamp Thing # 32, 33 34 - Moore, McManus, Randall Bissette
Stephen Bissette & John Totleben

El estilo profuso en detalles de los artistas Bissette y Totleben requería de más tiempo del que tenían, así que otros artistas estuvieron a cargo de historias auto-conclusivas. Tal es el caso de "Casas abandonadas" (febrero de 1985), en el que Alan Moore rinde homenaje a las primeras historias de Swamp Thing. Las primeras y últimas páginas son escritas por Moore e ilustradas por Ron Randall y el resto es una reimpresión. Abigail sueña con dos hombres misteriosos, llamados Caín y Abel, uno de ellos vive en la casa de los misterios y el otro vive en la casa de los secretos, ella sólo puede visitar una de ellas. Aquí tenemos una reimpresión de una vieja historia de Swamp Thing publicada en "The House of Secrets" # 92 (julio de 1971), los autores son Len Wein y el legendario Bernie Wrightson. 

Por último, en "Rito de primavera" (marzo de 1985), vemos a la naturaleza floreciendo, y las pasiones superan las expectativas cuando Abigail por fin decide admitir que ama a Swamp Thing: "Es imposible, es bizarro, es probable que ni siquiera sea legal [...] ¡tú eres una planta por amor de dios!". Swamp Thing se regocija al escuchar esto, porque también había estado enamorado de Abigail por mucho tiempo. Al ser una criatura que no pertenece al reino animal, Swamp Thing no puede tener una unión sexual con Abby, pero le ofrece algo más, algo más poderoso e inolvidable. Hace que ella forme parte de él, y ella ve el mundo como lo ve él. Ella ve la naturaleza como un todo, siente cada forma de vida en el pantano, respira una nueva energía, escucha el pulso de la Tierra y al final se da cuenta que esta comunión con Swamp Thing ha sido una epifanía.
Saga of the Swamp Thing # 32, 33 34 - Moore, McManus, Randall Bissette
Swamp Thing & Abigail "Abby"

En “Pog” vimos que como humanos somos "los animales más solitarios", incapaces de conectarnos con la naturaleza, incapaces de sentir empatía por otras especies animales. En "Rito de primavera", sin embargo, vemos lo opuesto. Vemos a Abby, un ser humano normal, adquirir un conocimiento trascendental sobre la vida y la naturaleza. Ella es una con el mundo. Stephen Bissette y John Totleben capturan el lirismo del guión de Moore y convierten cada página en poesía visual, su nivel de creatividad excede todas las expectativas y en última instancia cautivan incluso a los lectores más indiferentes. Esta experimentación gráfica es acompañada por el fascinante uso de colores de Tatjana Wood, distinto a todo lo que podríamos encontrar en los cómics de los 80.

El escritor más brillante y talentoso y los artistas más creativos y perfeccionistas trabajaron juntos para producir una destacada obra maestra. Neil Gaiman, en su prefacio, nos recuerda que "con estas historias The Saga of the Swamp Thing cambió la historia de los cómics" y Jamie Delano, en su introducción enfatiza que "Moore estaba trabajando para transformar el medio de su elección, convirtió lo que yo, al igual que muchos otros, consideraba una forma de entretenimiento producida a menudo cínicamente, en la que todo se amontona y se vende barato en algo vital -algo con valor". Alan Moore de hecho tuvo éxito, luchó contra la irrelevancia de la mayoría de los cómics y creó una obra maestra que casi 30 años sigue siendo tan o más valiosa y relevante.

Originally Published at http://artbyarion.blogspot.com/2012/12/saga-of-swamp-thing-32-33-34-moore.html


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About the Author - Arion

Arion, who is either from Chile or New York (it’s not really clear) writes a blog that the Outhouse steals on a regular basis.  Arion is by far the nicest of all the staff writers and the most well behaved only having been banned from one country.  One thing we really appreciate about Aroin is that he writes his reviews in English and Spanish and we hope someday he’ll translate this blurb for us.  We’re not so good at languages, just look at how well we write in English if you need proof.  You should bookmark Arion’s blog -  http://artbyarion.blogspot.com – and actually look at it.  There will be a quiz at the end of every month.


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