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The Bowing Machine

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Jun. 3rd, 2008 | 02:53 pm

The Bowing Machine, written by Alan Moore and with art by Mark Beyer, originally appeared in RAW Vol 2 No 3 (Penguin Books, 1991).

Bowing Machine 1

Bowing Machine 2Bowing Machine 3

Bowing Machine 4Bowing Machine 5

Bowing Machine 6Bowing Machine 7

Bowing Machine 8


Close-ups of the two panels with English-language newspapers: Page 4 Panel 1, and Page 6 Panel 3.
Bowing Machine 4.1Bowing Machine 6.3

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Comments {10}

Page Seven

from: anonymous
date: Jun. 5th, 2008 06:19 pm (UTC)
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Slovo, thanks so much for posting this. It's excellent, wonderful social commentary, a wonderfully bizarre type of story. I find parallels in the Japanese writings of Ryunosuke Akutagawa. Anyway, the reason I'm writing: could you give us a blow-up of page seven? I can make out some of the levels ("wife" on top; then "child"; is that "young" _adult_ next? I can see "emperor" on the bottom) but the rest seem to fade.

All the best,
mckennal

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Arrowette

(no subject)

from: cissie_king
date: Jun. 6th, 2008 03:19 am (UTC)
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I love this! It's slightly Kafkaesque (I made it up) in the rationalization of the absurd.

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glycon

(no subject)

from: glycon
date: Jun. 10th, 2008 09:35 pm (UTC)
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Glad you liked it.

Kafkaesque is a perfectly acceptable word...

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(no subject)

from: chinaboatman
date: Jun. 10th, 2008 07:59 pm (UTC)
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An incredible strip. Typically brilliant prose from Moore and the multi level motifs / symbolism we expect from him.

But...

Has no-one else noticed that a lot of the panels and captions seem to be mis-matched?! At least half of them seem to be wrong.

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glycon

(no subject)

from: glycon
date: Jun. 10th, 2008 09:36 pm (UTC)
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Welcome to LJ, CBM!

The panels do seem a bit random, and several of them are repeated in the piece.

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(no subject)

from: chinaboatman
date: Jun. 11th, 2008 01:44 am (UTC)
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Thanks Paidrag. I signed up specifically to comment here!

The recurring images are a common Moore technique of course; the thing that strikes me as being wrong is the caption placement. Take page 1 as an example:

The wave image should surely be the first panel, fitting with the caption about a 'great tide of money'. The panel with the newspaper should surely contain the caption starting with the line 'the newspaper arrives' and the caption regarding the wood should surely accompany the respective image. We know that it is a common Moore technique to have the text chime with the imagery. He uses the visual to complement the prose, the narrative itself told perfectly well just with Moore's words ala Brought to Light.

There are a number of pages where the captions seem to be placed wrongly like this. Look at the bottom panels on the final page. they should clearly be the other way around. Or perhaps the text should be the other way around. the left should be on the right and vice versa.

At first i thought that Moore may have been doing some clever right to left thing because of the Japanese theme (Japanese strips being read right to left of course, just like Japanese writing)but looking at the other pages there is no rhyme or reason to it that i can see. On page 158 for example the first and last panels appear to be mixed up and the other two seem right.

In contrast agian page 160 seems completely correct. There is no pattern to the seeming mistakes leading me to think that they must be exactly that.

About the how and why of all this I can only guess that perhaps the panels were rendered seperatley and then 'pasted' onto the pages in the 4 square grids. Except that whoever pasted them seemingly didn't know the correct order they should go in.. Clearly the lettering has not been done in any organic way and has been pasted onto the panels too.

I can't believe that this is the way Moore inteded it to be laid out. It jsut doesn't fit with his style for the captions to be placed so thoughtlessly, with the metaphors and motifs not matched up.

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(no subject)

from: anonymous
date: Jun. 11th, 2008 03:53 pm (UTC)
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Okay, here's where I think everything should be:

(Note that as the narrative makes sense I assume that it is the panels (the pictures themselves) that are placed incorrectly, not the captions. So when I talk about switching them around i'm reffering to the pictures only, not the text)

Page 155
Top left - The wave (presumably intended to echo the famous Hokusai print)corresponding with the caption about a great wave of money.
Top Right is correct
Bottom left - The newspaper
Bottom right - the wood of suicides - placed correctly but I think that the corresponding text should be in this panel, rather than the previous one.

Page 156
Top Left - The mistrels on the shore
Top right is correct
Bottom left - arial view of man at the table
Bottom right - window view of man at the table (suggested to me by Mckennel - (who posted above) this gives a reverse zoom out effect typical of Moore. I would note that it also adds another layer of imagery with with the small plants mimicking the big one)

Page 157
Top left - The neon sign
Top right - the building facade
Bottom left is correct
Bottom right is correct

Page 158
Top left - The figure in bed haunted by the face of his rival
Top right is correct
Bottom left is correct
Bottom right - should be the newspaper

Page 159
Top left should be the man lighting a cigarette
Top right should be the x-ray bow
The bottom two are vague and hard to determine. I'm not sure what the imagery is of here so I have no reason to assume they are incorrect.

Page 160 is correct

Page 161 is correct

Page 162
Top left is correct
Top right is correct
Bottom left should be the wood of suicides
Bottom right should be the rival in the wheelchair.

If you read the strip and mentally switch the panels around as i have laid out above it makes much more sense and is a much more satisfying read. That is how I believe the strip will have been laid out in Alan Moore's script.

As to why it has all been switched around I have revised my opinion that it was a mistake as the size of the captions fits the images too nicely to have been a mix up. Therefore I think that the artist has taken the liberty of switching the panel order around, presumably for his own conveniance, not realizing quite how the words and pictures are supposed to chime, adding layers of depth and meaning. If the artist has done this it is very unproffesional in my view and is to the detriment of the strip. I'm unfamiliar with Mark Beyer or his work so I can't really say how inclined he would be to do that but that is the way it looks to me. I cannot believe that he has followed Moore's script as it was laid out.

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(no subject)

from: chinaboatman
date: Jun. 11th, 2008 04:01 pm (UTC)
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Paidrag, I have sent a lengthy comment to you regarding how I think the panels were intended to be laid out. It will come through as anonymous for you to screen as i forgot to sign in before i sent it (new to all of this livejournal malarkey). So basically, it's by me. :)

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glycon

(no subject)

from: glycon
date: Jun. 13th, 2008 05:52 pm (UTC)
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OK, that's now visible to the rest of the world!

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Teikasaurus Howl

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from: saikoutron
date: Jun. 11th, 2008 02:18 pm (UTC)
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Lovely lovely piece. Particularly liked the little bit about the name cards, but otherwise this whole piece was excellent.

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