Tag Archives: Image Comics

Joe Casey, Nathan Fox, Haunt

Yep. I remember the joke this idea was originally. Some bet between Robert Kirkman and Todd McFarlane (the businessmen of comics) made at some convention because, hell, they knew it would sell and fashion a TV option somewhere along the line. Of course, that’s complete speculation on my part, but really, such a stretch? Of course, though, like the monthly junkie I’ve been for years, I bought Haunt #1 the moment it dropped and read it like every other pulse pounder on the comics internet. Reassuringly though, I did not enjoy it.  I found the book predictable and weak minded, offering little but some candy coated McFarlane inks over dynamic Ryan Ottley line work. That part, I will admit, was fun. But Kirkman … the dude took a decent concept and cut the balls clean off, crafting Haunt into another comic influenced by everything wrong with the early Image titles and slapping a shit ridden cliffhanger on it. One issue, and I was out. Little did I know I’d be back …

Two years later. Issue 19. Joe Casey. Nathan Fox. Boom. I’m back. And while I am enjoying the comic much more this time around, my feelings aren’t exactly clean cut and gleeful. I have an issue or two with what’s been established, yet that aside, Haunt is now, at least, interesting and energized. Casey and Fox have come onto this project like Alan Moore post-Martin Pasko on Swamp Thing and have given purpose to what essentially started as a purposeless endeavor. The work on Haunt applies Casey’s Butcher Baker, the Righteous Maker philosophy to an already living, breathing comic book series, showing that any bland super hero story can be more than it’s made out to be. Thematically, I think the point’s hard to ignore as Daniel Kilgore, the main character, seems to be on a mission to truly embrace what he is, showing that even Haunt, a bullshit mainstream comic, can dig down, find something within itself and present a vivid package.

To do that though, a hard shift had to occur. Casey and Fox quickly pushed away from the status quo on this one, and they went ahead and set their own direction for it. The team kept one essential ingredient via the actual Haunt character, but between killing his girl, having the cast disappear and throwing our protagonist into a whole new situation, Casey and Fox dissolved everything established about this series and basically said, “fuck it, we’re starting fresh.” This mindset has also dictated the structure and pacing of the run, thus far, as little of the upheaval has been explained. The plot’s been more about doing rather than discussing.  Or, as Casey puts it:

The approach relates to what Casey and Fox want to do with this comic. They’re not here to exactly just continue the tale in place by Kirkman and McFarlane. Instead, these guys are hitting a hard left, trying their best to do something new with Haunt because, obviously, what was already happening wasn’t really going anywhere. These first four issues read like a rescue mission as Casey and Fox do what they can to save this comic book from the path of bullshit it’s on and rehabilitate it into a fine piece of genre work. It’s  no coincidence then that the actual story involves a rescue mission – with Joe Casey, via Still Harvey Tubman, in story saving the protagonist from all sorts of terrible torture.  Granted, Casey could take time to explain story details and keep to this mantra of “fuck it, we’re starting fresh,” but I think the raw “let’s go” mentality of the writing speaks to Casey’s own personality as well as contrasts against a majority of what’s done in mainstream comics. Not slowing down, simply, has a greater visceral impact on the reader as well as offers a grander statement.

And Fox’s artwork compliments all of this. He’s using many midsized panels on this book, but he’s stacking them on the page in a way which moves your eye at a brisk pace. But it’s his style which accomplishes the most, as surface a detail as that is. Fox’s style takes what Paul Pope’s does and removes the iconography from it, boiling the line work down into something a bit more savage. In fight sequences though, I wouldn’t want anything but Fox’s style on my side as the savagery in his line emphasizes the fast pace Casey’s script moves at. For the most part, I’m not aware of any technical tricks or fundamentals Fox may use to tell the story, but there’s clearly more to the actual style and drawings than aesthetic points as the look of his art reflects what this comic is about at the moment. I’d say it’s effective. Plus pretty.

With all this said though, the jumbled manner of the comic hasn’t entirely been pleasing to read.  Not that I need answers or explanations to enjoy a story, but without a reason for an evil church, how can I hinge any weight on the conflict between Haunt and an evil church? My bigger complaint, though, is that I find the chaos a little bit too messy. While I enjoy the freewheelin’ nature of Casey and Fox’s Haunt, the pacing doesn’t exactly read like it’s under the control of the writer. Obviously, I know the hectic pacing exists for a reason, but Casey seems to have maybe even let it get away from him. Ultimately though, it’s more an issue of what this comic book will be. I realize we’re only at the beginning, but I feel after four issues everything’s still up in the air too much, gravity free, waiting on mission control to provide a tad bit of information.

Whether or not, I’m in, but I’m hoping for some development soon. That’s what this book needs at this point. It’s made the rift from the previous material and established a plan. Now, Haunt just needs a little more thought in it to really achieve the More it can potentially be.

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BlahBlahBlah-Attitude-BlahBlahBlah

Sorry. I couldn’t think of a title.

I bought and read three comics published by Image last week, and I wholeheartedly enjoyed each of them.

But aside from any craft or good time, something else about these comics struck me – the “newness.” Or, the energy.

Because see, alongside these comics, I also read two tried and true establishments.

And while they were OK, I left the reading experience unaffected and neutral.

So I began considering why and how the energy of the Image books hit me and caused a genuine excitement. They weren’t the best comics I’d ever read, but for some reason I walked away refreshed and hyped up about comics again. Why? And why had the Marvel and DC books left me indifferent all together. I think I’ve come to a conclusion. The difference is attitude.

Beyond technicalities and skill sets, attitude always screams loudest. That’s the personality of a work; the objective set of details is just makeup around the face. Being an artist, or making art … the goal is to communicate an emotion or make the work reflect the personality of the maker. It’s never really about filling a position or meeting a deadline. An artist works to make pieces that represent him or her in order to share oneself with the world. By that definition, attitude really becomes key to the success of the work.

With books like Hell, Yeah, Fatale and Manhattan Projects, there exist certain genre types and tropes familiar to other stories. These comics are new, and feel new, but in reality they’re made up of other things. Hell, Yeah works with the common knowledge of the super hero while Manhattan Projects takes elements of history and twists them for fictional use. Fatale blends two genres under a version of Brubaker and Phillips tinkering with their manner of storytelling. These books are composites. Not exactly New.

But they feel new, and that’s because the creators behind these books are approaching the production with spunk, shifting these collages of concepts into ballsy, confident comics that really, actually, represent the creators rather than carry their names in order to pay them.

But aside from the outside factors and creative origins, the books themselves embody that spirit. Brubaker and Phillips, rather than selling another one of their projects or doing some oddball off-shoot project (Incognito), seem to actually be messing around with how they tell one of their stories. Especially Brubaker, who’s script on this one offers up some interesting characteristics unfamiliar with most of his previous work – things like the point of view of his narrator or the construction of the plot. He’s made the story enticing by switching it up, and Fatale doesn’t exactly read like another Bru/Phillips collaboration. Hell, Yeah, just from subject matter, captures a younger, rebellious outlook, but I’d also say Keatinge’s script, with it’s quick cuts and particular voice, signals something confident. And Manhattan Projects … Nick Pitarra’s line work may heavily evoke Quitely, Darrow and Moebius , but I’d still claim the work possesses a forceful ability to grab attention. Hickman even seems to have something a little different under his belt. I mean, the comic still stars a a bunch of powerful men in charge, trying to save the world from itself, but the way he’s writing these characters appears a little more thought out than most of his recent attempts. Because, you know what, they’re actually fucking characters and not stand-ins for concepts.

The Marvel and DC books I read completely lack any reason, spark or care. They rely on the subject matter rather than attitude because the common readers of those comics are invested in the characters and familiar worlds they typically read. Attitude does not matter to them. They’re spending money to witness fictional occurrences.

Either way is fine, and either way can be entertaining, but from my experience it feels like attitude really is the correct way to go. I’d even say a creator, if in the position, should sacrifice technical efficiency and craft purely to convey a spirit or voice because, for what I want out of comics – artworks- it’s much more ideal for an artist or writer to generate an emotion via a work rather than tell a story, necessarily. Don’t get me wrong, I always want a sound story, but an emotional response to a work seems to invite a much more satisfying reading experience. Of course, though, the ideal route involves both.

The Image books do tell stories, though. They’re far from abstract. They’re genre comics. I found it refreshing to read a handful of genre books which exuberate such enthusiasm and primal response, though. Because, honestly, I walked away from those books hyped up and ready for more. That’s an emotional response I’ve forgotten to experience when reading my monthly comics – pure, childlike excitement. Which for genre comics, should always be the goal. The super hero market has sort of twisted that, though. The game is now more about continuing the soap opera than making the blood pump.

It may read cliche to type this, but the statement “creator owned comics offer exciting work because the creators are free to do as they please” works here. Between the last Marvel books I read by Hickman and Brubaker and these Image titles from the same writers, these Image titles clearly win out. These guys are making these comics because they want to not because they have a mortgage to pay. But, the statement “creator owned = better” isn’t always true. Sometimes the creator owned market can remain just as contrived and pointless as mass market comics. Oni Press knows what I’m talking about. Even other Image comics portray this (Thief of Thieves). And the stream can also flow the other way. Mass market super hero books can also channel an attitude and evoke an emotional connection. It’s possible. It’s been done. Read Uncanny X-force, for example.

So, what’s the point? Inspired work beats out soulless tradition every time, and while that point isn’t exactly new or profound, I feel a few of these new books in publication at Image exemplify the point in a nice, clean, current example, and I find the enthusiasm they’re bringing to genre books, the recent stepchild of the medium, engrossing as well as needed.

Of course, attitude, while I prefer it, can’t always be the ultimate decider of whether or not a work stands the test of quality. Some case of objectiveness has to enter the debate at some point to keep things in order. Otherwise, things tend to get a little too unpredictable as well as unmeasurable. But, maybe reading comics isn’t really about taking measurements or ranking books according to some universal rubric? Maybe the heart of the matter is simply about what you take away from what you read and the reaction you have?

To be clear though, my focus on attitude isn’t just some excuse for the quality of these comics so that I may praise them. This also isn’t some rallying cry or Team Comics fuckshit for creator-owned books. I just enjoyed what I read. Even without the aesthetic charge or surface buzz or the claim that they’re “trying something different,” I’d still cite these comics better than, not only Action Comics or Ultimate Spider-man, but most other monthly stuff I’ve read recently. These books are sound and well put together.

You be the judge, though. I know some people completely hated these new Image books, and I can respect that. But fuck it, I’m having fun.

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Mudman #1 | Paul Grist

My clock reads 2:28 am, yet for some reason I’m awake typing this review. My head hurts, and my body’s shouting at me with cold chills and lonesome aches. I feel some sort of illness charging my way, which of course “just figures.” Holiday break begins this weekend.

I’m compelled to tell you about Mudman #1, though. That’s sad, right? That I feel driven to tell you, the invisible reader, about this comic book? And it’s not even that good, which makes this activity even sadder. I should just get on with it, huh?

What’s funny about this new Paul Grist Image comic is that the book doesn’t even deliver what it states it will, which is a “story written for the comic book.” By now, most of you internet savy funny book fiends probably know of the open letter on the inside front cover of this printed item. I believe “news” blogs picked it up and gave it a few rounds. But, in case you’re unaware, here’s the gist of it …

“I’m not ‘Writing for the Trade’, I’m writing for the comic.”

Grist’s entire letter tells the infamous tale of how our comics and TV shows are now offered in narrative chunks. You know, the box set and the trade paper back… and Grist isn’t down with this. For him, these media are a means of serialized storytelling, so why experience the entire story at once? He then goes on to pledge his comic, this Mudman, will uphold the serialized mindset. That’s great. I completely agree with him.

Because I like comics. I like 20 page bundles, and I like staples. I like monthly installments. I like the idea of time adding to the narrative. Trades, to me, destroy all of that, and in some regard, like Grist notes, trades destroy the flow of comic book storytelling. I honestly kind of hate the fucking things. To me, you’re not getting everything when you read the story in a trade because time is not necessary involved to help supplement the tale. Instead, it’s all in your face. You’re not thinking as much as you should about it. Most likely, when you’re done, the story isn’t going to linger with you. Because you’re done with it, and it just becomes another book on a shelf where you house the rest of your shitty Fear Itself tie-in trades.

Which is itself a messed up situation … the fact that everything must now see a collection. No. Most of this shit deserves to rot in some box or backroom storage area. But whatever. Mudman.

So I agree with the intention, but Grist doesn’t translate that intention. Instead, Mudman reads like any other first issue you might see in the current landscape, except it’s little weaker. Script wise. Art wise, though, I’d say it’s a whole other story. I’ll offer a little praise first. I don’t want to be a complete asshole.

This comic looks like nothing else on the market right now. That’s safe to say. Style. Layouts. It’s pretty unique. What I appreciate the most is the abundance of white space left between the panels as well as in them. The book feels clean that way – clean and minty fresh. Which works very well when juxtaposed with the dark browns this mud-centric story implies. It also just bounces off of the majority of comics right now. So many of the big super hero titles resort to the muck coloring and “mature” stories in which Superman is a dick that this little comic suggests a breath of fresh air when you look at it. I can appreciate that just as I can appreciate the design aspect in each and every one of Grist’s pages. The panel placement suggests a sense of time invested in the creation, yet Grist’s expressionistic style offers up a quick cartooning look.

I think a lot of this comic, visually, is about emphasis. The book uses contrast to make specific elements stronger, and because of that I feel the comic keeps your eyes’ attention a little longer than most things.

But I was in ill-favor of this comic, wasn’t I? I should get back to that.

As Tim Callahan points out, intention is separate from what its actually on the page, and I agree with him, but I feel in this case intention is an element of the final product. For one, the intention is blatantly stated in the work, and two, the comic seems to be so much about offering an alternative that it cannot help but be connected to the statement of intention. I think Grist wants to do this comic because he wants to give people a monthly super hero story that is monthly as well as lighthearted, but he’s so much about that, that the comic really just seems to exist for the sake of an intention, or better yet, to be a public statement rather than to tell a story. So it’s with that I must hold the work up to the intention, and Grist doesn’t nail it.

The comic gets the lighthearted bit right, but it’s still written with an eventual trade paper back in mind. True, Grist has the notion of serialized narrative in mind, but this comic really leaves too much to be explained in future issues. There’s nothing here that’s solid or of its own. Instead, Mudman #1 sets up a lot of pieces without supplying anything concrete or satisfying for this monthly installment. The comic’s somewhat hypocritical.

But say we even remove intention from the argument and just focus on what is exactly on the page … Mudman still doesn’t really work. The plot is sown together in a disjointed fashion, going from numerous dream sequences to “real” world scenes. None of it flows together but rather makes you wonder what exactly is going on. There are even bits in the plot that don’t really work. For one example, our protagonist is at one point hit by a car – which is nonetheless driven by one of his teachers – but rather than being apologized to or taken care of, he is yelled at. That doesn’t make any sense.

But I’m not even sure if he was hit by a car because on the very next page the automobile is parked and its owner comes walking from the opposite direction, implying some weird sense that what we saw is not exactly so. Which is interesting for a mystery, but I’m not even sure if it is a mystery or just bad story telling.

The entire comic just makes for a disjointed read, and I was given very little in what is supposed to be a monthly installment to really say I received anything. That said, I’ll probably give issue 2 a shot because I’m still somewhat intrigued, but more importantly, Mudman looks really good. Can’t complain on that front.

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Twisted Savage Dragon Funnies

Twisted Savage Dragon Funnies is an anthology series edited by Michel Fiffe which originally appeared in single issues of Erik Larsen’s Savage Dragon. Now, TSDF resides in a trade paper back collection, and it spotlights the work of many excellent cartoonists doing their own Savage Dragon stories.

I’ve been meaning to write about this anthology for a while. Not that I have any ground breaking observations to add nor any comment of great length. I just really dug this project. So much so it will most likely pop up on my “Best Of” list at the years end. Because here’s the thing … Twisted Savage Dragon Funnies pulls off the impossible. Or better yet, the “dream.” This is a comic book work with idealism written all over it, and I’m happy to say I own a copy.

Because this project completely represents the type of comic I’ve wanted to read for years. I don’t know about you, but I used to spend much of my free time on comic book discussion forums. There was a heyday for such a thing, believe it or not. Some are still trying to keep it alive … Anyway, on such forums, threads pertaining to armchair quarterbacking would pop up frequently, and the simple question usually asked would be: what would you like to see more of at Marvel and DC? Or it might have been something like: what would you change about Marvel and DC?

Anthologies were my usual answer.

Because here’s the thing … while they tend to suck 9 times out of 10 (except for the possible awesome underground comics ones I haven’t read) … I love the anthology concept. There’s potential and room to run in an anthology. Multiple stories. A mixture of creative talent. No needed editorial barrier. An anthology can just be about good comics, and the necessity of shorter stories can only make them more kinetic.

But my reaction didn’t even really pertain to the anthology format as much as it did the idea of variety in stories. Because that’s the key to my enjoyment and the constant “rooting for” attitude I have for anthologies. They’re a fun tool to break the formula chain we’re so used to in mainstream comics.

So my ideal thought’s always been: put a group of great creators on a Marvel or DC anthology and let them go absolutely nuts with the properties. Basically make the anthology a backdoor or think of it as a small “What if.” What if the entire Marvel or DC line was spontaneous and ever changing? Just every fanboys’ favorite character taken over by a set of wild creative minds and put through stories designed specifically to fit the creators’ will.

The anthology would kind of bring that idea to life.

And those projects did happen with the advent of Wednesday Comics and Strange Tales, except neither of those soared past mediocrity. Wednesday Comics gets its cred for the experimental packaging and both series delivered a few enjoyable works, but for the most part both projects suffered the usual anthology gripe by not delivering in every single story. Or, more plainly, they supplied more bad than good.

Twisted Savage Dragon Funnies picks up where those projects left off by obviously carrying over a similar approach, but TSDF does it a little differently when you consider the project’s serialization in Savage Dragon. Whether intentional or not, I feel the literal proximity of TFSD to Savage Dragon comments on the larger idea at hand, which is what I mention above – taking the established and handing it off to someone else for an extreme makeover.

The proximity, or actually having both works share the same staples as a comic book, works as a before and after. Or kind of a reminder. Like, look … here’s what Savage Dragon by Erik Larsen is and here’s what an underground artist free of constraint might do with it. It’s that juxtaposition of styles and choices in storytelling, as well as the clarity of it via the format, that brings home what I think the overall idea of Twisted Savage Dragon Funnies is. That no two artists tell the same story. Because contained within this project are only Savage Dragon stories and none of them come off as repetitive.

The artists involved do all they can to make Erik Larsen’s baby their own. There’s respect in the storytelling, but there’s also no sense of worry. The creators brought in understand what they’re there to do, and that’s to create whatever comics they want. No holds bar. In fact, I’d say artist Zack Soto’s story “Screamin’ Bones” echoes such a sentiment. The entire story is basically a dream sequence in which Dragon experiences all sorts of crazy and then dies. It’s the dream aspect in Soto’s story which allows the character to go through such extremes, but really what I feel the story is saying is “comics can go anywhere. why not go there?”. A certain panel at the end of the story pretty much boils that idea down to one, visual instance as Dragon drunkenly stumbles through a door marked “Do Not Enter.” After which, he falls into a pit of fire, dies and then wakes up, back where Soto’s story began. The reader gains the sensation that, “hey, none of that really happened.” But it did because it’s clearly printed on the page and you can easily see so by flipping back. Both instances of “happening” and “not happening” can exist in the same moment if you chose to view two separate pages at once. Or you could just take the reveal as a comment on how easily you can make the impossible happen in comics. Similar to Morrison’s Animal Man, when Buddy’s family just comes back to life. Because it’s fiction, and you can do that in fiction. Just how Soto kills Dragon then doesn’t.

And, hey, the story even references Memento. I’m cool with that.

What makes Twisted Savage Dragon Funnies hit even harder for me, though, is its embodiment of unity.

There’s a rift between super hero comics and underground comics. I don’t need to tell you that; the internet will clearly do so. If you haven’t, you should read Michel Fiffe’s (the editor of this fine project) blog piece titled “The Big Fusion.” I’d say it’s a pretty clear companion piece to this here collection of comics.  In it, Fiffe discusses the always interesting mash up of indie cartoonists and corporate comics, and says in the piece that these instances are usually the best celebrations of the medium. To Fiffe, these mash ups are, as he puts it, “the real TEAM COMICS.” As in, it’s the rare situation in which everything comes together.

Well, I think Fiffe threw his own party when he set out to do TSDF because that’s what this is. Savage Dragon may not be corporate, but the book via its tone represents all things super hero comics. It’s the quintessential super hero book, and it portrays the genre in the classic way you’d envision. Fiffe brought the best of the best in terms of today’s underground market to this quintessential super book, and we the readers got to enjoy this excellent work.

Twisted Savage Dragon Funnies exemplifies what comics are. The book spotlights all the different elements present in this medium and industry. It represents all sides while exploring the notion of limitless boundaries. And while numerous artists are involved, I think Fiffe as an editor really conveys the strongest voice. Via his blog post Big Fusion, I get the sense Fiffe is a fan of the super hero/underground mash up, and with TSDF the guy gets to guide one of his own and champion the concept.

The book is really a love letter to all comics. And as an anthology, TSDF delivers in each and every installment. Yes, some hit harder than others, but all of them offer something. The book also stands as a great sampler for indie cartoonists. As someone trying to learn, I’ve gained much from this book.

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NYCC 2011 – An Interview w/ Erik Larsen

I took the opportunity and used this year’s New York Comic Con as a means to conduct a few interviews. This time around you’ll hear from Erik Larsen.

Larsen is a cartoonist, one of the original founders of Image Comics, and sole creator of the comic book series Savage Dragon.

Larsen still produces Savage Dragon. You could even say the title has entered a new revival period as its creator takes the book and its cast into new directions while remaining on a tight schedule.

Erik was also announced as the artist of the upcoming Supreme relaunch from Extreme Studios … illustrating Alan Moore’s final Supreme script and picking up where the writer left off so long ago.

In the interview, we discuss his work on Savage Dragon as well as cover the basics of the Supreme announcement.

Click the link below to listen, or right click and select “save link as” to download the interview to your hard drive.

NYCC 2011/Erik Larsen/14:52

 

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NYCC 2011 – An Interview w/ Joe Keatinge, Ross Campbell and Andre Szymanowicz

I took the opportunity and used this year’s New York Comic Con as a means to conduct a few interviews. This time around, you’ll hear from Joe Keatinge, Ross Campbell and Andre Szymanowicz.

Keatinge is known as the editor of  Image Comics’ award-winning PopGun anthology, but this year he plans to engage the comics industry as a writer. His new creator-owned project Hell Yeah was announced at the convention this year, and Keatinge will also assume the duty of writer  on Extreme Studios’ relaunch of Glory.

Ross Campbell and Andre Szymanowicz are Keatinge’s collaborative partners for these projects. Campbell will draw Glory, and Szymanowicz will draw Hell Yeah.

In the interview, we discuss the bare bones of these announcements and joke around as the tangents flow.

Click the link below to listen, or right click and select “save link as” to download the interview to your hard drive.

NYCC 2011/Joe Keatinge, Ross Campbell, Andre Szymanowicz/17:17

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Butcher Baker, the Statement Maker

Joe Casey wants us to wake up. He’s screaming in our ears. “Hey, fuckheads! Put it together!” For some, a rude awakening. For me, a welcome cry.

I never enjoy being the “all comics suck, especially the cape ones” guy, yet, at times, I slip into that mindset (especially if I’ve read Fear Itself). I join the crew of the hyper-critical, and we chant via our internet connections of how much we hate everything. Actually, I lied. Sometimes that mindset feels splendid. There’s a certain air of “above it all” that comes with the hate. You feel ahead of the curve. At least, I do. At some point though, you realize the amount of negativity you spout and things turn dark. You look at yourself in the reflection of your computer screen and beg the question: am I negative for a justified reason or am I hating to hate?

The “all super hero comics suck” label seems too easy to apply. It goes beyond the reasonable complaint of limited creativity to levels of nothing is possible in the genre. Sure, the genre has its problems. Creators get fucked, progress isn’t always made, and comics resemble product rather than art. The corporate lock down and fan culture provide plenty of reason for people to disown the angle. It even encourages it.  Small press suffers the same issues, though.  TokyoPop completely fucked Brandon Graham, the black and white boom felt more like early Image Comics than progress, and the number of publishers pushing panels of licensed properties goes uncounted. Small publishers suck just as bad. The flaws of comics go beyond the capes. It’s comics as a whole.

Still, for some, there’s nothing beyond Fantagraphics and PictureBox. The output of Oni Press doesn’t apply to them. My argument doesn’t apply to them. Whatever. For those who state an open existence though – the people in it for the art and seeing the world in open terms – it seems pretty fucking stupid to limit your reading. Sure, hero comics contain a lot of bad, and sure, few contain the passion and personal touch of art, but if  any of those things were the case, super hero comics seem like the most likely place. Motherfuckers fly in these books. I’d say a lot’s possible. And – super hero comics hold a certain place in the medium. To ignore them or brush them off only signals a being living in a bubble. In some senses, cape comics are the medium, at least in terms of identity. Study that. Learn from that. Invite the cape and cowl in and let it join the house party you call context.

Joe Casey proves the potential and awesome of super heroes with each issue of Butcher Baker, the Righteous Maker. He sends a statement to the art house goon, the mind-mushed hero reader, and the comics professional. The super hero isn’t a bitch; the super hero has balls. Such detail is built into Casey’s lead and book namesake, Butcher Baker, as well as the up front, hyper-active aesthetic of the comic. But I wouldn’t even limit the cry to super hero comics. As typed above, small press or guys like IDW, Oni, and Dark Horse can suck just as bad. Hell, even Image who publishes the work of the industry right now publishes some shit (*cough*Invincible*cough*). As we’ve learned, it’s not about limiting one’s self to a specific area of comics or literature. The mission pertains to an all-encompassing mind, and Casey is a smart fucker. This dude speaks a little something to everyone.

But, hey, comics books are about pretty pictures and cool looking shit. Let’s talk about the bitchin’ work of Mike Huddleston.

So much happens in this comic because of Huddleston. Casey inspires the work and sprinkles in the bits of manifesto and meta, but Huddleston sings the fucking song. His art spotlights many approaches, techniques, and tones to create an air of sophistication and complexity. Baker is not a comic to sit and stare at a consistent color choice or line. Huddleston flashes between neon and grainy black and white. Speed lines touched by a manga flare decorate fight scenes. Cross hatches and angles bend lines to an edge. My descriptions of art only go so far, but you get the idea. Mike Huddleston fills Butcher Baker with a mixture of approaches. The question to ask: why?

When reading comics (or any type of literature), always ask why things are done the way they are. That’s basic 9th grade shit, but it works. Techniques and narrative choices spawn from more than just accident. Everything contains a purpose. In the case of Huddleston’s art, I’m sure there are numerous – NUMEROUS – reasons. The dude no doubt possesses more brain cells than I, so I’m certain his artistic choices run deep. Too much happens in Baker in terms of visual expression for there not to be detailed reasons. I believe I can offer one, measly, bullshit reason, though. Huddleston’s art is on the constant move. Every scene works under different circumstances, and while I’m certain each scene looks the way it does for a specific purpose, I’m more interested in the general idea of change or the simple notion of complexity.

Casey shines a spotlight, aiming the bright, phosphorescent bulb on the super hero and the genre’s ability to preform. From that, we’re seeing the genre’s multifunction. Casey’s telling a high octane, “last job” thriller, but he’s also documenting a very personal journey. Much of this book is Casey’s career in comics deployed through the Butcher Baker analog. At the same time, the book offers character study.  The old war hero forced back to the life of combat. How’s that work? Butcher Baker, mentioned in this blog post’s title, also presents statement, a manifesto from Casey communicated through the genre and comic book as media.  The comic book as media … yeah. The spotlight, the statement, the study … it’s on the super hero, but again, no limits, Casey shows us the multifunction of comic books. Comic books in general, as form, rather than keeping to one section. A lot of change and movement exists in that goal. It only makes sense Huddleston’s art be so shifting. At least, in a collaborative sense. The artwork echos the writing. Provides emphasis. Huddleston’s complexity in style and technique is the visual hand to the face to push the idea through the eyeballs. Casey says comic books can do it all, and Huddleston backs him up.

Most comics keep to the single, visual vision. Reasons vary. Mostly, it rests on creative restriction because of risk of readers freaking the fuck out. Readers lose shit when comics lack realism, resemble manga, or go black and white. Huddleston brings all of that, though. He tells the notion of drawing “house style” to fuck itself. “House style” doesn’t know. It wants a set visual when comics could present so much more. The “so much more” never sees the light of day, though. The need to satisfy “house style” mentality boils strong, so artists force out status quo images. The art of Butcher Baker represents a sexy middle finger, and it yells at everyone, “hey, get a fucking load of this!”  A load of what, you ask? Metaphorical testicles communicated by the artwork’s aesthetic. Simply said, Huddleston’s work is pumped full of testosterone, and it follows Casey’s lead in that comics know no bounds.

The statement of Butcher Baker matters, and a main feature of that equals Casey’s personal touch. Baker feels like a very cathartic work of fiction.  We have some knowledge of the bullshit Casey’s dealt with in recent years. DC rewrote a few Superman/Batman scripts, and this obviously affected him. Maybe other things have happened as well. But the DC incident is the public one we, or I, know, and, you what, it’s enough to inspire the self-therapy Casey’s exploring. Baker contains a specific timeline, and it can be traced to match the experience of a comics writer. Issue #4 depicts a younger Butcher Baker – in his prime, the super hero of legend – combating against a villain in the middle of a desert. As the fight romps on, dialogue appears:

Butcher: “This place … kinda’ like the Wild West, eh Gator?”

“You think you can hide out, but it’s still Cowboys an’ Indians …”

“… while the goddamn world ends all around us.”

The Wild West. Cowboys an’ Indians. A good way to describe comic books, right? A medium with such potential and so much room for a pioneer to work with, but really it’s chained down by industry standards to play out the same old fights, over and over. Butcher speaks of the world ending as well. I take that as, “you can try to hide out in comics, doing something important, but while you play what’s really a dumb game, real shit is happening in the world.”

Gator is put down by page 2. Butcher than hands his mask over to an army officer and walks away from the scene.

Butcher: “Chasing super-villains halfway across the globe had me feeling like I was trapped in a Roadrunner Cartoon …”

I feel the line speaks for itself.

Issue #1 would be where we first meet up with Butcher in the present, years after the flashback. He’s living in his grotto, banging multiple chicks, and drinking. The dude’s all over the fruits of retirement. Then come Jay Leno and Dick Chaney, whom could easily be interpreted as Marvel and DC as well as other things. But for the sake of the point I’m on, let’s stick with Marvel and DC. These guys bring Butcher out of retirement to fulfill a mission. The mission, blowing up a high security prison in order to kill a bunch of super villains, goes wrong and Butcher is left with a mess to clean up. The mess being a number of old foes such as a behemoth named “Angerhead” who spouts lines like, “My hatred will fuck you up!” Even though higher powers sent Butcher on this mission, he’s on his own to clean the mess. Hell, the high powers look to cover their asses and send in military force to fuck Butcher. There’s even missiles sprayed painted with the phrase “fuck you” fired at the Righteous Maker.

This reads like an account of a comics writer picking up mainstream work and then realizing the mess it can be. Some creators claim to do very well under corporate structure. Guys like Brian Bendis has flourished and still produce solid work while being the company name. The other half of the story exists, though. Casey would most likely be the poster child. Lines like, “Those assholes promised I had their ‘full support’ on this mission – is this what they meant? The first sign of trouble…they turn their guns on me, too!?” totally fit Casey.

“But it never fails. The white men in their black suits…they want what they want. And I’m expendable. Fuck me.”

It’s like the reaction of a writer going in, trying something exciting under a corporate umbrella, and then discovering the company men are pissed and will fuck you hard to fix what you’ve done. This element of the story actually provides an interesting contradiction. As typed, most of this book sets a goal to present the awesome and capability of super-heroes as genre. It’s almost like a pep rally in comic book form. So why show the darker side? I believe it’s to discuss the issue of super-hero comics entirely. As we all know, creator rights have once again become the big, controversial issue in our daily Twitter feeds. And you know what? Good of those people concerned. It’s an issue that demands dealing. But as we all come to question the moral behavior of our heroes’ homes (the publishers), we reach a point of contradiction. We all favor creator rights, and I bet quite a few would give an arm to get Kirby is rightful due, but when you boil down the argument, how many can actually boycott Marvel? A sense of evil and moral question disgusts us, but we also love the story potential of capes. We reach a point of enternal struggle. What do we do here?

Baker’s at the same point. The dude wants to enjoy the life but constantly suffers from its seedy side. He is us, and he is Casey, locked in a world of indecision and contradiction, trying to make any fucking sense of it he can.

And then Butcher makes a break for it after a bloody battle in Times Square. He disappears like a criminal after a successful heist, beaching himself in a resort spa. Not the place for Butcher. The dude can’t escape the thoughts of heroing and who he is. Butcher contemplates what’s next for him.

The writer cannot just leave the field even after a hard fucking. The writer has to produce. It’s who the writer is. Resort beaches and bullshit small talk are not him. But what else is there other than the game he’s already played? Same goes for the reader. Once you see the potential of comics, how can you leave forever?

Butcher Baker sees a lot of time as an analog character, and honestly you could probably spend a few hundred words or more discussing analog characters in this comic. The entire cast of villains thus far seem to each speak a specific personality, and there is as well Arnie B. Willard. This determined, beer-gut of a law man comes as a bit more difficult to pin down. I’d say he represents another side of Casey, though. Just because of his ying/yang connection to Butcher. Issue #5 really gives me that vibe. When the transgender force of universe provides Willard with a higher sense, his thoughts and Butcher’s intertwine. Both characters take a trip to each other’s head, and it’s from this we learn Willard wants to be Butcher. He’s the law man who loves dishing out justice and hates his fat fuck of a wife, and Butcher appears appealing by way of his many female friends and beefy, Liberty Belle truck. It’s all in this head trip process as Casey writes in an Alan Moore image/caption juxtaposition.

The important fact would be Willard’s action of chasing Butcher. He’s chasing him to lay down the law, but his transgender friend offers a little more insight. She (or he) claims Willard must seek the ultimate truth, and from the pages in the comic it seems the ultimate truth lies with Butcher Baker. So, if Willard does represent some side of Casey, what is it that Casey finds in Butcher Baker, which I would say is another piece of him?

Willard could even fit the contradiction theme. A lawman hunting a vigilante, yet he secretly desires to be just like him.

The answer is where this series is going.

Now how the fuck do I wrap this up? I suck at conclusions. (you may even think I suck at writing. period.)

It’s like this: comics can do a lot. We live in an era of Hollywood R&D and formula. Comic books sit in the shopping carts of suits and then meet check out upon option. Nobodies’ taking it seriously until it hits the silver screen. Nobody. Except for Joe Casey and Mike Huddleston, two dudes on a mission to prove the comic book’s versatility and creative potential. Butcher Baker, the Righteous Maker contains a mix of levels and “abouts.” It’s a comic book that’s proud to be a comic book, and it’s doing things only comic books can do. In a collaborative manner, I might add. The book even teaches a lesson for the already comic book faithful. More is possible, and super heroes, the go-to blemish of the medium, can transform and do new things while offering personal expression. For some, the manifesto may not be even be enough, but remember, this series is 5 issues old, and Joe Casey seems totally open to change. I’m sure Butcher Baker will develop with the time as well as develop with its author’s voice. This would be the last comic book I’d expect to go stale.

It’s the best motherfucking book out there.

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Savage Dragon. Read it.

As Joe Keatinge points out, Savage Dragon is the comic book you all want.

Consistent creator? Spontaneous, episodic adventure? Big sequences? Real consequences? Commentary? Experimentation? Artist connection? African American protagonist?

Check, Check, Check, Check, Check, Check, Check, and CHECK!

Shame on you for not paying attention.

Erik Larsen’s  pet project means many things to me, but it first and foremost represents an artist’s love of comic books and super hero convention. Larsen’s passion for comics hinges freely open. Just a short stint following his Twitter account and you’ll see the interest and opinion he broadcasts. Twitter is the man’s personal soap box, and by following him you become subject to his care and interest in sequential story. When there’s big news floating around or controversial developments, you can always expect at least a few tweets from Mr. Larsen. Twitter’s a recent development, though. Long before the invention of social media Larsen and a few other hot talents ditched their secure jobs to pursue an unfiltered vision of comics. Image Comics was the biggest risk of its day. If it bombed, the men attempting were surely out a job and possibly blacklisted. A lot rode on the simple desire to create without limits. As the story goes though, Image boomed and took its founders to new levels of fame, but think back to the start once more. Larsen risked it all just to create comics the way he desired. That’s big, and once he became the subject of Image’s success he could have done anything. Larsen had the freedom. His next comic book project could have been a cosmic romantic comedy staring ape squids for all I know, but at the end of the day Larsen created a super hero centric title. It was obviously the genre he wanted to work in. That chance and choice, sir, shows a strong love.

So why write about Savage Dragon? Other than holding my heart as my favorite comic book, I feel Savage Dragon lacks discussion from both casual readers and the critical community. The critics damn it as weak and laugh at its existence, while the mass readership ignores it to pursue the corporate icons. An unfair shun, if you ask me. Savage Dragon may read as quaint and simple when cast a quick glance, but really Dragon is rocking some levels. The content and context make this comic a rare and special work in today’s market, but in true hypocritical fashion moaning, sobbing comic book fans roll their eyes at its presence.

As I point out on a recent episode of The Chemical Box, there are hardly any (maybe none) ongoing comic book series working issue to issue. Marvel and DC possess long running, high numbered series – even though they renumber every month – but most of those series rely on 4 or 5 issue story arcs or chapters. These chapters usually work as smaller stories within the long narrative, and they could honestly be removed from the ongoing series and be sold as finite stories. In fact, they are. These finite chapters traditionally see some form of repackaging before they are sold in trade paper backs as individual stories. In most cases, transitioning creative teams or the need to spice up product completely destroys the concept of  long narrative.

An ongoing series like The Amazing Spider-man constantly bears witness to small stories. The years of “Brand New Day” brought forth different artists and writers every three issues, providing a constant inconsistency. These practices question a reader. Am I really reading the same story and the same character’s same narrative as I have been for 15 years? Really, no. Consider story arcs and creative swings a fucking reboot. You might as well. Comics are now written to serve the Hellboy model, but even the Hellboy model works with a solid, consistent creative vision. The ongoing narrative of Marvel and DC heroes is dead.

Savage Dragon keeps the narrative tradition of comics alive. It’s run for 18 years under the same creative vision, from a writer/artist no less, and hardly ever works its narrative through labeled story arcs. Savage Dragon is THE issue-to-issue comic. Never does it lull mid-arc but rather offer high points each and every issue. Every issue tells a complete tale while still belonging to a larger saga. Again, the ideal comic book everyone so wants.

But, yeah, I’ll just quit with the “you’re a hypocrite” act and get to it. There was a cool scene in the latest issue of Savage Dragon, issue #171 (actually #172 will be the latest as you read this as it hits comic stores the day I post this blog post – good timing, right?). I wish to write a few lines on this scene I so dug.

Thunder-Head a.k.a. Kevin Gorelick sits upon his dusty, worn couch as a youngster playing a video game. In storms his father a.k.a. long time Dragon villain Skullface and Larsen provides the audience with a face filled visual. A line of dialogue is bellowed. “Do your homework.”

Young Kevin proclaims that homework is unnecessary, especially in a world where his father is a “bad ass” and homework is not required to pursue bad-assery. Skullface looses his cool and lectures his son on his own terrible life. Skullface wants the best for his son, not a cheap life as a crook. Through persistence, Kevin promises his father to work hard and stay out of trouble.

Years pass.

Skullface lay deceased, and we see Kevin attending to his grave site. There’s an anger in Kevin. Through monologue, he reports of his father’s poor job as a parent yet announces the difficultly of living without his father. Kevin states that these are tough times and that there are “not a lot of opportunities for a guy that looks like” him a.k.a. guys who have a blue, skeletal face. Kevin persists to honor the promise made to his father, though. He says, “I guess you’re still looking out for me” as he walks away from his father’s grave.

Two pages later, Kevin types away at his formal office job when a young woman reports he is being “let go.” Kevin becomes upset and is escorted away by security guards. Soon we see Kevin pursuing his role as Thunder-Head. He’s communicating with the organized crime unit the Vicious Circle. Kevin breaks his promise and by the end of the issue combats with the book’s own protagonist, Malcolm Dragon.

Ok, so maybe it reads just like another, soap opera fueled origin of a super villain. You know, daddy wasn’t there (to change my underwear…) and all that jazz. Really, though, it’s not. In comics, the family aspect can spell out the coming of evil, but in this case Larsen reverses or twists the circumstance of family as motivation. Unlike the usual parent of a evil, Skullface cares. Granted, Kevin makes note in the grave scene that it was hard living with his father, but that could mean a number of things. I mean, it’s hard living with my mom, but that’s just because of her to tendency to annoy me – not poor parenting. From what we see of Kevin and Skullface’s relationship, things seem normal and well. Skulface looks out for his boy and encourages him to do well.

It’s then that the sub plot acts as expectation shifter rather than convention. Larsen, like Tarantino, poses Kevin’s story just right so that it plays with the audience. While reading, we expect Skullface to beat young Kevin when he enters the room, but instead he lectures. While reading, the flash forward instills pre-thoughts of criminal Kevin while it really depicts a white collar, office working citizen. Our guesses as to where the plot is leading land false. It’s not until Larsen takes away the respectable job that he folds to convention and portrays the orthodox, crime happy style.The play on the audience involves more than expectation tease, though. By showing this oddball circumstance of a character becoming a villain, Larsen suddenly brings an extra dimension to the usual 2-D comic book antagonist.  Most comic book baddies pertain to little motivation or explanation. They are simply bad to be bad, or because the story dictates them as so. If anything, a usual villain comes packaged with some line of vengeance or goal of world domination for a chosen idea of society. Not here. Kevin wants to be good and has every inspiration to be. The character, though, eventually loses sight and drifts away. The element of falling makes the character a bit more interesting, and Larsen’s choice of such shows his willingness to experiment with hero genre cliches.

For what Savage Dragon is – an analog version of 1960s/1970s Marvel – this move resembles perfect, “oh, of course” sense. Larsen’s book takes great pride in bending and breaking the cliches of corporate hero comics. The narrative always goes after the elements Marvel and DC will not touch, and it does what most readers won’t expect the Big 2 to do. Kevin a.k.a. Thunder-Head is only another classic Savage Dragon example.

I don’t wish to dress Savage Dragon as another super hero comment book, though. I find no problem in stories that simply choose to comment on the comics medium or super heroes, but for the sake of addressing those who do find error in such thing I’d like to point out that Larsen’s use of Kevin is a very real world, social comment. Most crime in our world does not derive from a soul of pure evil or sadistic drive. Most crime is survival based. Hurricane Katrina stands as the perfect example. Looting of retail shops made all the headlines as the flood waters climbed and climbed, but no where among any of those looters were thoughts of evil. The looters looted to survive. Whether food topped the list of stolen items or television sets, the looting became a necessary mean. Food nourishes while TVs provide black market cash. Either way, people need both results to make it.

As Kevin comments, times are tough. The character losing his job and turning to robbery represents many in America right now. People are making rash moves to make ends meat. Even Kevin’s extra incentive to join the way of crime speaks toward a survival instinct. The Vicious Circle mention their new mission as being one to bring Kevin’s father back from the dead, and as you recall Kevin announces how hard it is to live without his father. In some way, Skullface’s absence harms Kevin or inhibits his survival. Bringing back his father could only make it better for Kevin. At least, that’s the thought.

So, yeah. I just typed all of that, 1800 fucking words, to discuss one subplot in one issue of Savage Dragon. It may read as quaint, which I argue is apart of the book’s aesthetic charm, but goddamn, there’s something about Erik Larsen’s 1990s-born Image Comic. Read an issue sometime, and don’t even tell me the comic you ideally want doesn’t exist. You obviously ain’t looking.

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A Gold, Holo-Foil Heart – McFarlane’s Spider-man #1

1st all-new collector’s item issue! The legend of the arachknight! Arachknight? Yes, I am looking back to the year 1990 because before Spawn and the boom of Image Comics Todd McFarlane debuted his  chops as a comic book writer on a certain Marvel Comics character.

The book infamously known as Spider-man #1 holds a certain place in American comic book lore. Some remember it for its ridiculous amount of collector bribing, variant editions while others recognize it simply as a poor, confused example of the medium. All of that aside though, Spider-man #1 channeled a zeitgeist excitement felt by the industry at that period. The book fell right in line with Liefeld’s New Mutant’s and Lee’s X-Men. It was a comic book on the edge, presenting unorthodox artwork and design. Spider-man looked new and different, panels knew no bounds, and the impossible seemed possible once again in a super-hero comic. Nearly everyone had to own a copy and every company needed a copycat, McFarlane-esque artist.

Deep down, though, past the 2.5 million copies sold, the holo-foil, scratch-and-sniff covers, and the rock star attitude lay an artist looking for a break. McFarlane at this time was still relatively new to the comics industry. He was coming off his two year run on The Amazing Spider-man with writer David Michelinie and nothing else really to his name. Granted, it was an impactful run from both a plot standpoint as well as an aesthetic mark, but still, a two year run is nothing in an industry where Jack Kirby penciled numerous titles per month. There was much to prove for this young artist. Thus, after a few short talks with editor Jim Salicrup, McFarlane’s own title appeared in the web-slinger’s line of funny books. A twenty-some page pamphlet where he could stretch his legs and push his ability.

 

Now, let me just say, Spider-man #1 does, in some regards, deserve the criticism it receives. It’s a comic book so short of plot it’s laughable. The story, if one could call it that, depicts Spider-man web-slinging through the streets of New York along with a scene of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson flirting in cute couple fashion. At some point, the villain The Lizard is brought in to rough up random street thugs.These events, under the hands of craftsman, could work as a fine first issue, but the problem is the drive and tie of these events. There really isn’t any. These events feel like randomly disbursed thoughts throughout a comic book, and they’re overwritten with corny caption boxes of narration – a technique that only results in great or terrible quality with no inbetween. No theme is present, no greater purpose exists, and the dialogue would make a twelve year-old version of yourself laugh.

It’s a pretty awful script, but McFarlane manages to take away some of the bad.

“I don’t profess to be a writer, but I do think I can tell a story. What this means is that most of the issues will rely heavily on the artistic side. It will also allow me to draw who I want when I want, so I can get wound up artistically and be even more enthusiastic while I am doing the work.”

Continue on.

“My writing will expand and get better as the months go by, but I will strive to present Spider-man in a fashion not seen before, and thus be able to justify the question of why a fifth Spider-man book.”

–          Todd McFarlane, Text page in Spider-man #1

Could he be anymore clear? If I had just read Spider-man #1, the comic, by itself, I would have put it down with very little to say, but after reading the afterward text page, I suddenly found a lot in this comic. This is a book that doesn’t pretend to be anything bigger than it is. It’s not Dark Knight Returns, and McFarlane knows and admits this! Instead, it’s Spider-man #1, and McFarlane clearly states his intention is to make Spider-man look cool and basically nothing else.

I’m pretty sure he accomplishes this.

The contents of the issue, even now, are visually striking. McFarlane’s vision of Spider-man, even to this day, stands unique with edge. His powerful splash pages send elbows to your face and panel layouts never slow down to anything resembling a nine-panel grid.  It is a cool looking comic book, and at the time the artwork was a game changer in the market of hero books.

Not that it stops there, though. If anything, that praise is the usual praise for an artist like McFarlane or really any of the Image guys. No, McFarlane accomplishes something else with his artwork. Rather than characterizing his cast by usual means of situational development or dialogue, McFarlane takes the John Woo approach and depicts his characters through their body language and physical action. Take a look at any Todd McFarlane Spider-man drawing and admire the way he positions the character in a very acrobatic, gawky way. Without a beat of speech, you should understand who McFarlane’s Spider-man is; a masked hero who swings through the New York concrete jungle, hangs upside down, and performs daring flips and acrobatic feats to catch criminals.

The awkward twists in the body posture even depict Peter Parker’s wise guy persona. The liberal crouching and skin tight costume provide a sense that Spider-man is unlike the usual super-hero. That instead, he is some sort of punk rock warrior. A man not following the traditional super-hero protocol, but rather cracking jokes on the crime scene, running from the law, and receiving the hate of New York City.

The weird, almost disturbing poses even speak to a primitiveness of the character. Traditionally, comic artists focus on the human aspect when they draw Spider-man; a young guy in tights trying to make a difference.  When Spider-man clings to a wall in a McFarlane comic, something animalistic seeps from the hero. The spider element becomes a bit more vital. The character becomes inherently a little darker. The popping veins and big, bug eyes communicate an idea of torture. A reader understands Spider-man’s guilt, determination, and origin point.

The artwork says a lot, surprisingly, and when it’s combined with the comic’s own idea of self-awareness, I think it actually makes Spider-man a rather interesting comic instead of a bad one. If anything, this book is much more personal than the gimmick it’s made out to be. McFarlane did as he pleased with this comic, and the book provided the young artist an opportunity to express his creative needs. It’s the comic McFarlane always wanted to do. An a-list character at an a-game publisher and he was the sole creative force behind it. McFarlane’s Spider-man really is McFarlane’s Spider-man. In some ways, I find it possible to believe that this comic may have started the creator-owned conversation for Todd. McFarlane experienced a taste of control by doing this book, and I believe that as the years past that sense of control only grew harder and harder to give up. The man yearned to own what he drew and draw what he owned, but Marvel Comics could not harbor such desires as they had, and still do, a business run. Still,  I now like to think that Spider-man, in some way, was owned by McFarlane. His artwork defined the character for a period of time, and for a period a time the character was all his in a title he wrote and drew.

In some form, Spider-man #1 was the first Image Comic: bold, unorthodox, creator-controlled.

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Image Addiction Review: Savage Dragon #170

As usual I review the new issue of Savage Dragon over at Image Addiction. Here’s what I had to say:

“The page layout matters in comics. The method of how the panels mesh along with the placement of borders and breaks determines the reading experience as well as the pacing.

Well, this issue of Dragon explores that as Larsen shows the effect of page design by repeating one particular layout for basically the entire issue…”

You can read the rest HERE.

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