Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Inspiration: Far Arden, Taxpayers

I picked up Far Arden a while ago because I was so enamored by the book itself. It’s a decent thickness (382 pages!) at an appealing size(5" x 6 1/2" ) with a really nicely designed hard cover. It even has those cool maps on the inside covers that you would see in old adventure books. After oogling over it for a couple of months I eventually picked it up... but for some reason didn't bother to read it until this past weekend and I must say It’s one of the best adventure stories I have read in a long, long time.

The story follows Army Shanks, a “crusty old sea dog and legendary brawler of the high arctic seas” on a journey to find the mythical island of Far Arden hidden in the arctic north. Throughout his journey we watch Army go through just about anything everything you could ever want to see in an adventure story including polar bear fighting, orphan child sidekicks, old flames and absurd villainous plots. Throughout the story various conventions of the adventure genre are used in original and humorous ways keeping the story interesting while still paying tribute to the stories that came before it.

I think the thing that really makes this book truly great though is its sincerity. While the book really doesn't take itself seriously in most ways (I personally love how it uses sound effects to say things like "face kick" or "break through" as if the drawings weren't obvious enough as well as how crazy stretched out characters get during some of the fight scenes) the characters are played completely straight and believable. I was surprised to find that such seemingly throw away characters had a real depth to them. Despite the humorous overtones of the book there are some really touching moments that could only be made possible by having such well rounded characters. I'm not explaining this well. Point is, the writing is damn good.

In short, it's fun, hilarious and oddly touching. I can't recommend it highly enough. You can read the whole thing for free online here or you can go out and get an actual copy of the book since it's so damn pretty.


In other news I've really been digging this whole free music revolution that seems to be going on lately. There is some seriously awesome stuff floating around on the web so in the spirit of sharing I'm going to keep posting some of this free music that I stumble across.

And so, today I bring you The Taxpayers. I just discovered them this past week and they have quickly become just about my favorite thing to put on. A weird mix of punk with folk country and jazz creating a really unique sound. Pretty lo-fi and definitely abrasive at times I feel they are best summed up by their bio at Quote Unquote records: Out of Portland come a band that is equally poppy as they are noisy, explosive as they are muted, fun as they are fucking serious. A Rhythm in the Cages sounds like a party on fire. Everyone's about to die, but at least we're all laughin' about it. Or at least kinda. Recommended if you're into anything.


- A Rythem In The Cages

- Exhilarating News

a couple of tracks I particularly like are Everybody Does A Little cocksucking, Montana, There Is Trouble and Sudanese lips.

I'll have some comics and stuff soon, I promise. Again. Really though. Soon!

Jason <3


Matt said...

I have the Taxpayers' album and an Inkstuds podcast interview with Kevin Cannon both sitting in my iTunes library right now. Based on this post, I've got some listening to do. Thanks for the heads up, man.

Sam Spina said...

i've been the same way with far arden! everytime i'm in a comic shop or bookstore i pick it up and look at it because it's such a striking book. I did the same thing with nate powells 'swallow me whole,' it's just such a pretty book i just always pick it up. I eventually did buy swallow me whole and i have to say, i should have bought far arden, it seems way better. I think i heard somewhere that far arden is a collection of 24 hours comics or something? like he did a 24 hour comic every month for a year and the result was far arden. does it say anything about that?

Jason Bradshaw said...

Matt - Enjoy! it's good stuff

Sam - Yeah, Far Arden started as a series of 24 hour comics which is ridiculous for how well plotted it seems to be. There's a great interview with Kevin Cannon on inkstuds where he talks about it.

And yeah, striking book for sure :)