Excalibur #43

“Home Comforts”

Writer and pencils: Alan Davis

Colours: Glynis Oliver

Inks: Michael Heisler

Editor: Terry Kavanagh

Original publication date: November 1991

This week, we’re giving Anna’s favourite issue of Excalibur the celebration it deserves, chatting with award-winning comics creator and educator Dr. Nick Sousanis about the very skillful, very complex, very sexy, very important visual storytelling of Excalibur #43, “Home Comforts.” We talk picturing dreams, Kurt’s fondest desire(s), and what Kurt and Brian are actually fighting about (is it Meggan, or something else…?). We also talk quite a bit about transformative circus fantasies, spending a good chunk of the pod pouring over a single spectacular page—you can probably guess which one 😉 We all left this convo seeing an old issue in new ways—we hope you will, too!  

On unflattening:

“When I was trying to convince my dissertation advisors about the importance of the work I wanted to do, I would tell them – a comics page is able to hold more information than seems possible for a flat sheet of paper. Comics are an unflattening of ideas.” -Nick

On fantasies:

“Kurt talks all the time about rescuing damsels in distress. Yet when he has this sexy dream about Meggan, he doesn’t dream about conquering her. He dreams about her flying by his side as his partner. It’s obviously egotistical, but also—he’s dreaming about equality.” -Anna

On visual symbolism:

“Because the background is continuous but Kurt and Meggan are fragments—they’re trapped or constrained within the panels in a way the background isn’t. That creates a feeling of discomfort. Even if you don’t yet know it’s a dream, it feels off.” -Mav

On comics and dreams:

“There is a theory that comics are particularly good at simulating the experience of dreaming by presenting a series of fragmented images that have a dream-logic to them, veering easily into surrealism.” -Andrew

On the page at the centre of the conflict:

“The thing that’s at the centre of this conflict is the thing that’s at the centre of this page. That centrality is communicated both through the organization of the page and the use of colour—red symbolizing passion and conflict.” -Anna

On likeable Brian:

“I liked Brian in the scene where he walks in on Numbers and the dragon. He finds them having a very private moment, is surprised, but immediately apologizes and politely leaves. This is probably the most likeable I’ve found Brian to this point in the comic.” -Anna

On fight choreography:

“Part of what they’re fighting about is different ways of being masculine. The thing that the fight scene and the erotic aerial dance have in common is Kurt’s beauty. Kurt’s comfortable performing. Brian’s not.” -Anna

On character beats:

“Meggan’s dialogue is stereotypical, but it also means a lot, character-wise, for her stand up for herself. Davis’ love for Meggan also comes across visually through his rendering of her tearful face. This is an iconic image of Meggan. It may be *the* image of Meggan.” -Andrew

On space and pace:

“The use of space and silence is really important. Drawing out the moment, and adding the crashing ocean, so that visually, the situation almost overwhelms the characters—it’s pretty masterful use of timing. I’d want to redraw it to think about how it all works.” -Nick

On visual vs textual stories:

“My headcanon saves Davis’ too-blatant explanation of Kurt’s attraction to Meggan but telling myself Kurt’s not being honest with himself. Maybe this is what he thinks his attraction is when he’s conscious. We saw his subconscious tell a different story, which the ‘all that I desire’ line does allude to.” -Anna

On the importance of fashion:

“I love that Kitty is dressed like a 15-year-old girl in this comic. At the time this comic came out, I probably knew 20 girls who dressed exactly like Kitty. It was a great choice.” -Mav

Want more Nick Sousanis?

Want more Nick Sousanis?

You can find him on Twitter (@Nsousanis) and at his website, Spin, Weave & Cut, where he shares his in-progress work and other projects, plus an invaluable database of comics studies syllabi and activities related to studying and making comics!

And of course – you can buy Nick’s multiple award-winning book, Unflattening, wherever fine books are sold!

 

And as usual: 

You can find Anna on Twitter (@peppard_anna) and on her podcast with Andrew and Michael Hancock, Three Panel Contrast (@3PanelContrast). 

You can find Andrew on Twitter (@ClaremontRun).

You can find Mav on Twitter (@chrismaverick) and on his podcast, VoxPopcast (@VoxPopcast). 

Enjoy!

-GGW Team