Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Wine and comics

Originally printed in a Food Zine by Pirotess. It was kind of fun.

I like wine and I like comics, especially Australian comics. Both have this organic feel – they are products of their environments and their creators. Comic stories, like wine needs to be nurtured and nourished, the end product is a result of the skill of the creator and their environment.

Matching wine and food is quite a skill, where one tries to match flavours and accentuate the tastes. But comics and wine? I decided to grab some books and peer into my wine cellar and try and figure out what goes with what.

Lets look at a book by Jase Harper, Guh! is an anthlogy from the Brisbane area consisting of a collection of mainly one page gags centred around the life of a 30 year old artist working in animation. A witty comic, punctuated with longer more surreal comics done in a great art style. A witty little comic should be served with a wild white wine like Heartland Viognier Pinot Gris. Viognier is like comedy, it must be timed perfectly otherwise it fails, leave this grape too long on the vine or too short and its turns bad. Mr Harper’s humour is timed to perfection. The taste of viognier is citrusy and light, tangy more than sweet. But Jase’s art is different from that typical cutesy wootsy style that dominates humor comics in Australia; the open endearing twee style of Grug, Soehardi or Holgate. The art has a sharper curve, its edgier and slightly more mature; this wine from Heartland is the same – the pinot gris gives a slight spice that works with the citric sweetness of the viognier, giving a mature taste, a kick which goes well with punchlines like “Fucking shit up since ‘03”.

“Happy Birthday Anyway” by Matt Huynh is a mini-comic that as some weight to it, a single tale, it tells the story of two girls who’s lives intersect for a short time, but who’s feelings and yearnings couldn’t be more similar. Matt’s art is tender and textured, full of graceful brush strokes and compelling design. The tone is youthful and sad but even more so, it’s beautiful and real. When I think of youthful and vibrant I think of Cabernet Sauvignon from a nice warm region, like the Barossa Valley. The Barossa with its hot summer means grapes ripen early, bursting with sweetness and vigor. Conversely, merlot is probably the most melancholic of wines, it has this earthy taste which dampens the vigor of the cabernet; it is the reality that suppresses youth. So I’d pick Warburn Cabernet Merlot, where the fruity sweetness is suppressed by more herbal flavours. And at only $8 its value for money which is important for artists and teens alike. It drinks smoothly for a cheap wine, so there will be some sadness when it’s all gone and the comic is finished.

The final book is Phosphorescent Comics’ Witch King. A dark gothic tale needs to be drunk with a dark gothic wine. D’Arenberg is a winery with an appropriately regal name whose flagship wine is the Dead Arm Shiraz, a perfectly named wine to drink while reading a story dealing with a Dark Prince’s quest for revenge. This graphic novel is written by Christian Read, while Paul Abstruse provides the detailed, yet kinetic art backed by inkers Darren Close and PJ Magalhaes and the great colouring is by Annette Kwok and Laing Rahner. The grapes for this premium wine is sourced from vines planted by Methuselah at least 110 years ago and produces a wine blood red, that slowly swishes around the glass leaving a powerful trail of alcohol in its wake. Witch King is about a young prince, Gavriel, who uses magic to first escape his bullying family and then later becomes a wizard and exacts his revenge. A solid quality read, its seeps with pain and magic, revenge and power. Wines like the Dead Arm are designed to be cellared so the tannins and alcohol can oxidize producing beautiful smoothly balanced flavours. Against all that, I would open a recent vintage and pour a glass and drink it down, let my taste buds be battered and bruised by the oaky tannins and burning alcohol just as Gavriel is pummeled by his kin. While I’m drinking that first and second glass I’m decanting the rest of the bottle, letting it breath, so as Gaveriel becomes more powerful so does the wine become more balanced and smooth. The flavour will change from a brute to a silky wine with a dark fruit taste highlighted by a peppery twinge. Like Witch King this is a magnificently put together creation, hitting all the right notes.


Anonymous said...

Awesome, I must have missed the food zine, I'll have to keep an eye out for it.

Most of Guh! 2 was drawn under the influence of a variety of reds but I agree a white would go well with the reading of it.


Mark Selan said...

I tend to drink whites and lighter reds day-to-day and leave the big stuff for special occassions or when i'm too lazy to cook.