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August 10, 2003

Stalin vs. Hitler superhero comics
Posted by Teresa at 01:04 PM *

Stalin vs. Hitler, created by Alexey S. Lipatov, is a boggling piece of syncretistic mythologizing. The basic style is Marvel/DC, heavy on the Dr. Strange-era Ditko, mixed with a big dollop of Soviet social realism, plus maybe a few Maoist Chinese swipes here and there.

During a flashback, we see Lenin in his secret hideout, playing an obvious Yoda to Stalin’s equally obvious Luke Skywalker:
The laws of historical inevitability are our strength. You must learn to make the laws obey you. Watch and learn, Joe!
The ballooning is all in Russian, but Lipatov has provided translations at the tops of all the pages except page four. That’s a little frustrating. I can more or less tell what’s going on—Stalin’s zapping Hitler with something that’s first cousin to Big Barda’s power rod—but I can’t tell whether it’s the collective might of the proletariat, or the force of historical inevitability, or just whatever the Russian is for “power rod”. On the other hand, it’s cool to find out on page three that the Russian for “MWAH-HA-HA-HAH!” is “XA XA XA XA XA!”

One note: The pages are out of order on the site, with page two turning up at the end of the sequence. Here’s the correct sequence: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12.

Comments on Stalin vs. Hitler superhero comics:
#1 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2003, 04:16 PM:

Stalin's zapping Hitler with something that's first cousin to Big Barda's power rod--but I can't tell whether it's the collective might of the proletariat, or the force of historical inevitability...

It's the unwavering will for victory of the multinational Soviet people.

#2 ::: language hat ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2003, 04:26 PM:

Top: "I ditn't come empty-hended, Adolf!"
Middle: "My marshal's staff iss de embodiment off de unbending will to wictory off de multinational Sowiet pipple!"
Bottom: 1) "Nein!" 2) "Stop, Stalin! You need me!" 3) "Two Great Ones will always find a common language!" 4) "Schickelgruber end Dzhugashvili might be able to come to an understending, but for Hitler end Stalin, reconciliation iss impossible!"

(I hope my attempt to find some equivalent for Stalin's heavy Georgian accent is more amusing than irritating.)

#4 ::: Nicholas ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2003, 04:54 PM:

This version also has a more complete translation - complete with bonus historical footnotes, though it's sadly lacking in heavy Georgian accents.

#5 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2003, 05:31 PM:

The footnotes are useful, though I miss the outrageous accent.

The art and narrative style is interesting. It starts out Ditko, wanders into Social Realist (except for the first panel showing Lenin, which I have to think was swiped from Chinese art), moves into Sandman territory around the climax, and right at the end winds up almost pure Jack Chick. What's fun is that the art keeps pace with the logic of the narrative: where there's Sandman causality, there's Dringenbergian art.

(If I were brave enough to go near the subject of s*bt*xt, I would hold that this effect is the equivalent of an author writing in English, with its enormous range of possible word choices, who at times may unconsciously indicate what he's thinking about during a particular scene by the choices he makes.)

#6 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2003, 05:54 PM:

Mentioning Jack Chick reminds me of a tangent, and this is as good a place for it as any. Al Hartley died. He was the artist who drew "Archie's One Way" and other religious comics with the Archie characters. Before and after that, he was for a time seemingly almost the only Archie artist (and he sure did love drawing them gurls, huh huh). Much earlier, he was a Marvel artist, drawing -- or maybe just inking? -- some early Thor adventures, if my mind hasn't tricked me again. I never thought a whole lot of his work, but dangit, I haven't seen anybody mention that he died, and he's worth at least a mention.

Sorry, back to the thread now.

#7 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2003, 05:54 PM:

My very dear young lady, subtext is entirely possible in comics. It is only in text that subtext is impossible.

Of course, the subtext is deliberately placed in the work by the artist.

#9 ::: jock strap ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2003, 10:36 AM:

this friggen sight sux you morons ought to be ashamed of your selves!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

#10 ::: jock strap ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2003, 10:36 AM:

this friggen sight sux you morons ought to be ashamed of your selves!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

#11 ::: Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2003, 12:13 PM:

jock strap, I quite agree. Jim should give up his silly campaign against subtext.

#12 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2003, 04:52 PM:

The subtext of your remark, Alan, is that only lunatics believe in subtext.

#13 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2003, 09:33 PM:

When I was a failing actor (before I quit the stage and started selling plays, writing screenplays and teleplays, doing "research" for media) -- I was taught Method Acting, being in the direct chain of tutoring from Stanislavsky. Again and again I saw actors whom I thought were stupid (except for script memory) turn into people with real presence onstage, so long as they were playing a solid role and found the emotional memory that made for "subtext."

Doesn't make "subtext" valid in other media, I suppose. Doesn't challange the attack on Method by Technical actors.

Are comics more like stage plays, movies, or novels? More dependent on emotion (as with Horror, Romance, Comedy) or intellect (as with Science Fiction or Mystery)?

My car celebrated the containment of the California Fires by failing to start this morning. Other professors gave me riides to and from universirty. Supportive in a SF-community way...

#14 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2003, 12:02 AM:

"Are comics more like stage plays, movies, or novels?" To my mind, they definitely fall between movies and novels in this heirarchy (mostly because of bandwidth -- the limitations of having-only-a-closely-specified-set-of-images-with-no-movement are huge compared with the subtlety of live human interaction (or even taped interactions of live humans). But they're more visual than novels, thereby using a different set of communications bands (go read UNDERSTANDING COMICS again if you want some good clues on this). And the emotive labels you're tossing on to various genres, JVP, seem just a bit too simplified to me -- they may represent central tendencies in the way these genres are expressed, but they sure don't include the range! Some psychological thrillers are all about emotion rather than ratiocination; some comedy appeals almost strictly to the intellect (and I often like that, indeed I very much like it better than slapstick or humor-of-humiliation) -- look at how much of what Robin Williams does requires serious thought to understand it.


#15 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2003, 07:05 PM:


Good comments! Serves me right for quoting without thinking it through:

Excerpt from interview by Jonah Weiland of Stephen
Bissette ["Taboo"] (who "retired from comics in 1999")

"Horror is a genre founded on emotion. There's many
such genres. Romance is a genre founded completely on
emotion. Comedy is a genre completely founded on an
emotional state. Horror is in that same nebulous

"To me, the keystones are not the artifacts and the
archetypes that people tend to associate with horror,
but the unconscious well springs that are touched by
horror. There are the obvious negative ones: fear,
dread, the feeling of being profoundly disturbed,
frightened. But I think there's also an expansive and
very positive side to horror, which is usually
ignored. There's a very real feeling of awe and wonder
that is tapped in some of the best exercises in
horror. A couple of examples I can cite that anybody
would recognize: H.P. Lovecraft, Clive Barker."

"You know, Lovecraft's work often depended on
cultivating this almost atavistic feeling that we have
that there's something much bigger than us out there
(though Lovecraft usually twisted it towards
'something much bigger out there' that was going to
consume us or somehow feed on us). That's what almost
all religion is founded on; there's a great deal of
crossover between religion and horror."

Thrillers are in a complicated place in genre-space, since John Buchan defined their central tendancy, as you put it. My "Ultimate Mystery/Detective Web Guide" includes thrillers, usually labelled as such, because they have much in common with the Mystery/Detective as such, though I agree that the Thriller usually emphasizes emotion more than the Spock/Holmes axis.

I also like the intellectual strain of humor, such as in Woody Allen's story hiring a private eye to find God, or his recent story that used terminology from String Theory to deal with an askew relationship.

And Opera! Boy, does that usually emphasize emotion.

I have been working on a Universal Theory of genres, and have a few thousand words itching to be published somewhere. Of course, I could be wrong.

BTW, I missed Torcon (my semester's teaching just started that week), but I've heard that you saved the con from going even further into chaotic Twilight Zone "this is a local con only bigger, and we don't need you old Worldcon experts" disaster. If so, thank you again!


Jonathan Vos Post

#16 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2003, 07:31 PM:

Not me, baas -- I missed it too (finances).

#17 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2003, 01:10 AM:

JVP, you'll be thinking of some dozen other conventions where Tom did that exact thing.

#18 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2003, 01:53 PM:

Does anyone here know what kind of kink is served by anonymously posting puerile insults? I'm starting to be curious.

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