Building a Better Comic Book
When Rodolphe Töpffer drew the first comics in 1837, he couldn’t possibly have imagined where the genre would go. It’s comparable to the Wright Brothers trying to picture stealth bombers while standing on the sands south of Kitty Hawk. Stealthily, comics have grown into one of the most fascinating forms of expression available—an alchemical mix of literature and visual art that achieves effects neither can produce alone. Jeff Zwirek’s Burning Building Comix explodes onto the scene with the latest comic pyrotechnics playing with the concepts of narrative and time itself. Stealthily simple but conceptually complex, Burning Building Comix puts Jeff Zwirek among the best and brightest architects building a better comic book.
Don’t judge Burning Building Comix by its cover, because it’s not until you open the book that you realize you’re in for a different comics experience. What looks like a horizontally oriented 6¼ by 12¼ inch book unfolds and stretches when opened into a 6¼ by 24½ inch tower of power. Zwirek takes full advantage of his unconventional format to create a visual and storytelling matrix striking in its originality.
The premise itself is simple—a 10-story building is burning down. Each story of the building’s a separate story featuring a character trying to survive. Zwirek asks you to start reading from the ground up. As you work your way up the towering inferno, the individual stories interact in your head, igniting new connections and imaginative possibilities. Zwirek achieves all this with a clean, concise visual style (shown above) and a total lack of dialogue. (Word bubbles appear with the context implying what’s said, but you’re left free to fill in the blanks.) On this framework, Zwirek hangs a varied cast of characters fighting the flames: a sleepy old woman and her frantic pooch, a pregnant wife going into labor, an obese shut-in, a pretentious film fan, a suicidal atheist, a resentful latchkey kid, a pentagram-drawing and video game-playing paganist, an abusive drunken couple, and a couple that find each other on the rebound and on different floors. Each story works horizontally, but from the first reading and even more from repeated readings, they work vertically, too. The visual and narrative parallels and contrasts Zwirek builds into his building show a great sophistication in storytelling.
Zwirek thanks, among others, cartoonist Ivan Brunetti, author of Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice (which I reviewed here). Burning Building Comix puts modern cartooning philosophy into practice in the best and most effective way. Zwirek doesn’t tell you his philosophy of comic creation, he shows you and makes you think the philosophy out for yourself. Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen remains the standard for manipulating space and time, but if Watchmen is a grand, epic cathedral of storytelling, Burning Building Comix is a small, beautiful chapel. If you’re looking for the future of comics and where artists can take the medium, Jeff Zwirek’s Burning Building Comix will light your way.
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The results come from a 15-year study that used ultrasound scans to track blood vessels in middle-aged adults starting in 2002.
- The study measured the stiffness of blood vessels in middle-aged patients over time.
- Stiff blood vessels can lead to the destruction of delicate blood vessels in the brain, which can contribute to cognitive decline.
- The scans could someday become a widely used tool to identify people at high risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer's.
What defines a dark horse? The all-important decision to pursue fulfillment and excellence.
When we first set the Dark Horse Project in motion, fulfillment was the last thing on our minds. We were hoping to uncover specific and possibly idiosyncratic study methods, learning techniques, and rehearsal regimes that dark horses used to attain excellence. Our training made us resistant to ambiguous variables that were difficult to quantify, and personal fulfillment seemed downright foggy. But our training also taught us never to ignore the evidence, no matter how much it violated our expectations.
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