Tag Archives: Brandon Graham

Prophet | Graham, Roy, Dalrymple, Milogiannis

Like everybody else, I too am reading Prophet and find it to be quite an exceptional example of what mainstream comics can do and be. Unlike the mass of creator-owned or faux-indie books that jump out and scream their separation from Marvel and DC, Graham and company wish to join up with the mass culture and beat it at its own game. A noble effort, and while the “play the system from the inside” routine usually grows old and results in little outcome, the Prophet crew seem be to A-OK as of now, playing the cards they have and letting the bait be taken. And it’s being taken. By you and me and the the mix of general readers and Comics Journal crowd who nod their heads and note this Prophet comic as a decent, pleasant item to receive each month.

In some sense, Prophet feels more like a gift, digging up some of that initial excitement we all felt at the start of our great comic book binge, rather than adding to the same old sludge of new releases we, for some sad, pathetic reason, feel the need to study. The creators have brought back that enthusiasm we all once put toward genre comics, and they’re making the month long wait mean something again. That’s so important for comic books. Especially now when it seems all genuine love, lust, fun or concern, theory and debate happens off the page and in some movie theater somewhere  or through some industry Op/Ed. Comics has reached a point where the comic books almost don’t even matter, and I for one find that a little scary. But Prophet’s battling back against that, leaving all the magic and thought among those panels to make its speech mean a little something more. That speech … it says, “look, yo, remember these trashy things? yeah, we don’t have to give up on them.”

And to be clear, I don’t mean to say Prophet is alone in this effort or that Graham is really the first guy to consider this mission, but rather Prophet stands out. Through its various, almost now trademark tools of storytelling, this book has shown in a matter of seven issues that more can be done. And by more, that would mean the mainstream genre comic, where it seems now little substance, energy or thought resides: the creators have split; the bloggers and pundits have spit their contempt; and I, who for  months watched the rest of the Comics Internet burn its bridge and squash any hope of good mainstream books, have finally brushed off my own excuses and now see at least the corporate side of comics as the cold, fake void it really is.

Maybe it’s a good thing. Maybe now we’ll all be able to move on and challenge ourselves with something a little greater and complex as well as expand our own horizons on what exactly comics can be. Maybe the only thing stopping us all along was our allegiance to childish fantasies and their lowbrow construction. Maybe we needed to ditch this shit all along in order to push our medium forward.


But there is this push from certain creators to keep the thrill and octane alive: guys who say fuck legitimization for favor of poop jokes and violence. Though it’s also these guys, like a Marra, Ryan or DeForge, who while diving into the trash bring forth a careful and considered sense of craft, and it seems Graham wants to join the effort with Prophet and mix and match the adventure and cliffhangers of mainstream pop comics with the sense of craft, function and theme better comics are capable of.

So far, the approach seems to be working.

The most distinct quality of Prophet is its sense of atmosphere and place and how subtlety, versus blunt interaction, can build such a grand thing. This comic lives and breath “show don’t tell,” and while Graham’s stoic narration does play a large part of the series’ development  and tone, he really seems to embody his spirit as an artist here more than a writer, even though he doesn’t draw much of the comic, at all.  As the writer though, Graham lets his artists and the pictures they produce tell the story because he understands when to let his prose interject. Like a good comics writer, his bursts of narration come at the opportune time when a scene could use an extra push, and if he does describe or detail it’s always to compliment the visuals or catch something they cannot. But besides just knowing how to contribute to the book, the approach makes a lot of sense for what Prophet is: a visually intricate science fiction series. Why tell when Simon Roy can simply show you?

Prophet becomes a highly collaborative work that way, again, offering up some courteous advice to the rest of the comics mainstream. Graham works with his artists, and they in turn output something far more exciting, turning the book into more of a whole than a writer simply having a hired hand draw his words. A confidence exudes from this, as well, and rather than you, the reader, questioning the value of the book, you just kind of know this is good and roll with it. The confidence, though, does just really come from the subtlety of the work as Graham and Company trust the story gets across what it needs to without having to feed it to you via spoon.

We’re at a point with the book where visual styles are becoming characters themselves. Graham breaks his sub-plots up by artist assignment: Roy draws the initial John Prophet clone, Milogiannis presents Old Man Prophet, or the original, Dalrymple to John Prophet with a tail and Graham does the robots we see in issue twenty-six. All of these characters are established in Prophet’s initial story arc – or what makes up the first trade paperback – and it seems safe to assume these characters will be the major players of the plot Graham intends to spin. In one fashion, this works to separate a group of clones in order to make them decipherable to the reader, but the choice also suggests a pure attention to the visual presentation and what each individual artist can bring to the work.

That’s something a majority of mainstream comics have forgotten how to do as most of the industry still rides the wave of writer-driven series. The Prophet crew are transitioning away from that, creating this new set of cues for a reader to read by when they visit the book each and every month. Depending on the artist, a reader can take a guess at what plot point any specific issue may center around, and if it’s a new artist on the issue, well, you’re in for a surprise.

The whole thing brings the visual component of comic books back into the fold – especially for the genre driven side of the industry. That’s refreshing but also intelligent because it takes the reading experience of a comic book up from common slum activity to more of an area where your brain is involved with the process. You have to think about those visuals, for once, and ponder how they connect and contribute. Granted, it’s not exceptionally brilliant or worthy of intellectual study, necessary, but that much of a push in mainstream genre comics means a great deal. Take a look at most of them now; many are astoundingly dumb and easy to read. There’s no challenge or even involvement whatsoever. Prophet’s going back against that.

And while visually involved, Prophet does present some thematic elements of interest, whether its the boundaries of human potential or imperial conquest, this science fiction comic does seem to have a core group of ideas its commenting upon. And the level of imagination is off the charts. This thing didn’t stop at “what if humans were the enemy and not the zombies?”.

Where Prophet stands in ten years, who knows. It may not even rank at the end of this decade, but for now it feels significant, and if anything, it’s pushing mainstream comics into a more respectable territory. I’m in favor of that, because while I can get down with art comics, I do want a sense of bombast and fun in this stuff. That’s an essential aspect of the medium, I feel, and if we forget that we will lose something. Creators just need to work to hold this stuff up to a higher standard. Just because it’s adventure, doesn’t mean it’s stupid.

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the chemical box – episode 010 – double digits

A new Chemical Box Podcast, hosted by Joey Aulisio and myself, is available. Here are the details…

in this episode joey and alec discuss supergods by grant morrison, batman incorporated #7 by grant morrison and chris burnham, the wolverine’s revenge storyline (wolverine #10-12) by jason aaron and renato guedes, the mindless ones website, brandon graham’s comics journal interview, hate annual #9 by peter bagge, the similarities of approach between peter bagge and erik larsen, and we answer some emails, among other things.

music by †††

You can listen by clicking here, or you can download the show, in iTunes, here.

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No Clever Title Needed #3

Here are the thoughts that lack a specific home; they are tossed here.

What a week. Honestly, that is all I can say to describe it. Just so odd. Just so off. That was this week. Not terrible by any means, just odd. I guess that is a pretty vague description, right? Oh well.

This week, or at least something I watched this week, did make me want to move to Portland (Oregon) even more, though. This something would be the short and so appropriately named documentary, Portland Comics.

Moving entirely across the country for a comics scene may seem like a bit much, but to me it would be more than comics…Ok, scratch that, it would be all about comics, but it would be for the community, culture, and lifestyle around the medium rather than actual, physical comic books themselves. At this point in my life, I feel comics are, and forever will be, apart of me.  The medium has me at my heart and mind. I feel I know it so well, yet at the same time have many aspects to learn about it. Comics, as corney and possibly messed up as it may sound, have shaped me into the person I am today. Seriously. Without comics, I would never have podcasted, never have choosen a career in journalism, never have taken an interest in writing or storytelling as strongly as I have, and would never be writing this blog. Also, the ways in which I look at the world…those would probably be different too, as well as the group of friends I hold.

To me it makes sense. Portland does. The comics scene, and the people of it, just feel like a setting I need to be surrounded by. It is a setting I need to exist in. It would bring home and strengthen the idea of comics being a piece of me. Granted, I am going completely off a documentary and other word-of-mouth, but I know that I need to at least visit Portland sometime in the near future. From there, well, we will see what happens.

For now though, the land of Portland, Oregon will remain a wishful thought. One that I may possibly work towards.


Dave Wachter kicks ass. Here is a sweet Galactus piece from him, and it is in color.

Dave’s blog: http://davedrawscomics.blogspot.com/


A friend of mine discovered this really cool short film called Logorama. It is an animated presentation that depicts a universe of brands.

On the surface, this film works as a cute comedy that provides numerous chuckles, but as expected with the subject matter it does dive into its corner of commentary and subversion. The bit that really impressed me was the use and placement of specific brands, such as the use of Ronald McDonald as the villain in the piece. That, ladies and gentlemen, was no accident. I actually think you could probably spend all day watching this film picking out brands and the comments they make.

It is a visually busy film, and I certianly suggestion taking the sixteen minutes to watch it.



New Criminal.

I am always in the mood for Brubaker and Phillips’ Criminal because it feels like the most natural work these guys produce. This promotional image is excellent. I love the colors and the way the women’s red dress contrasts with the blue of the background, and I also love the vertical streaks casting down like long rain drops.

I have yet to read the latest arc of Incognito from this creative team, and from what I understand those comics may be weak, but I am certainly looking forward to this project. I will be buying.


The Mountain Goats’ latest, All Eternals Deck, is very good, and it has been my playlist of choice over the past two days. With luck, I may actually be seeing them live, in Pittsburgh, on April 12th.

Tracks that impress: Damn These Vampires (1), Birth of Serpents (2), Estate Sale Sign (3), The Autospy Garland (5), High Hawk Season (7), For Charles Bronson (11), and Never Quite Free (12).

Get it.


The name of Jay Diddilo has become legend to the internet in the past week or two. Why? Well, just blame Rob Granito. If you have not had enough of Jay Diddilo (and really, how could you?), then you must check out the man’s actual website.

Your laugh buds will thank you. Oh, they will thank you. http://jaydiddilo.com/index.php


Last, but not least, Brandon Graham, the artist and creator of King City, has been providing a great daily column over at The Comics Journal all week. This is a must read. The man provides some great artwork along with  fun, quirky bits of internet goodness. Plus, a cool peak into his daily life.



Yep. That’s it. Next week I should post something more substantial. For now, enjoy this post, and if you frequent Twitter follow my ass. I want more followers, so I can feel some higher sense of happiness. You want that, right?



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