Tuesday, August 11, 2009
A few minutes ago, Richard mentions in an fb status update that he's whistling, "I Saw Her Again Last Night". Immediately, I'm transported back to my childhood bedroom, listening to WABC on the radio and reading Marvel comics. This has happened countless times.
I'm sure it's been researched (though a quick google on "music induced visual flashbacks" yielded nothing), but it's always striking to me how consistently this occurs, that linkage between a song and, in my case, reading comic books. Just let me hear, or even hear a reference to, a pop song from, say 1966 to '71 ("the Letter", "Hello, Goodbye", "Groovin'"), and what transpires in my head, in addition to a scarily note for note, word for word reproduction of said song, is an image from Hulk, Nick Fury or Doctor Strange. Not necessarily an actual image, but a range of inks, certain colors, even the smell of the comic. (I know olfactory sensations often carry the most powerful nostalgic associations). But the merest suggestion of one of these songs and there I am, lying on my bed, devouring the latest batch of Marvels, hastened back from Sandy's Breyer Patch where me and another fanatic would bedevil him into prematurely opening the stack of new arrivals, beseeching him to let us use his wirecutters to unveil that month's cache.
Guessing, I imagine it has to do with going through puberty, discovering things in the wider world, beginning to differentiate between "stuff" and "art", how important that would have been for someone that age. Jeez, you'd think a pop song might mentally connect me with some girlfriend, but nope, just comics. Geek in training.
Lately, it's been the colors as such, the inks. That period, in Marvel, was one of experimentation in many aspects but one that doesn't get mentioned often (not like I follow discussion on this, but I bet) is the coloring, the ink techniques. I didn't realize at the time that the artists, the Sterankos, Buscemas, Adams, etc. pretty much just did pencil drawings, leaving the inking and coloring to someone else. Little by little, I realized that I enjoyed those comics inked by Joe Sinnott more than others; his thick, sensuous line held far more appeal than the relative scratchiness of his cohorts. But the coloring began to get interesting too. The introduction of black matrices for shading was way cool; I remember it in some Adams-drawn things and the inker/colorist's name I recall is Tom Palmer--not sure if that's right. [Just checked--yep, that was he. Has a whole book on the subject: Tom Palmer: The Art of Inking Neal Adams] In addition to the black or gray-scale shading, there was an increased use of super-saturated colors, rich purples and dark greens that threatened to stain one's fingers. Those were what have been leaping to mind lately when "Hurdy-Gurdy Man", "Love Is Blue" or "Last Train to Clarksville" flits across my consciousness.
Curious how common this is. Gotta be.
[Heh, just realized I posted on more or less this same subject in August of last year. Just shows to go. Obviously found no further corroboration of this connection in the interim!]