Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Galendara's "Lest They Should See"


Comics artist Galendara participated in an 18-hour-comics event over the weekend and while I wouldn't normally post about comics made under this stress as it's just not fair to treat them like a carefully crafted work for publication, I've decided that since it was inspired in part by a story I wrote and because it turned out pretty dang cool that I would through it up here. (Note: I will, in spirit, be following my book-reading MS POLICY.)

Lest They Should See

The comic is an elegiac look at fertility and barrenness and, in my opinion, the most striking visual element is what Galen does with wombs. For instance, how they are connected to the earth:

Lest They Should See
Lest They Should See
Lest They Should See

These images are not pressed together like this in her work (click on any of them to read the whole thing), but this is their order and I love the progression from potential to growth to widespread barrenness which reminds me of Isaiah's prophesies.

Anyway. MS POLICY. It's up and you are welcome to read it for yourself.

And let's have more of these events, shall we?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Icon: A Hero's Welcome

I recently read Static Shock: Rebirth of the Cool and enjoyed it. Yesterday I read Icon: A Hero's Welcome and was blown away. This is truly revolutionary stuff, entirely deserving of the name the imprint chose for itself. On the cover of this new edition of the trade, Alan Moore is quoted as saying, "ICON is that rarest of creatures--a well-told adventure story that achieves genuine political depth." I have to agree. In the early nineties while other writers were following in Frank Miller's footsteps, making superhero comics more "mature" by adding more violence and crudity, Dwayne McDuffie was creating a superhero comic that actually approached adult themes with maturity beyond that of a hormone-charged adolescent--and managed to do so in the context of a genuinely fun story.

Icon's story starts in 1839, when an alien escape pod crashes in the deep South. The pod genetically alters its inhabitant to appear like an African-American baby, in order to fit into his surroundings. He's found by a slave and raised on a plantation, and then he proceeds to help the Underground Railroad; fight in the Civil War, World War I, and World War II; earn a law degree; and participate in the Harlem Renaissance. As his sidekick, Rocket, says of his history, "His life spans the breadth of the African-American experience." When Rocket meets him in 1993, he's an upper-middle class lawyer living in the suburbs of the fictional city Dakota. (She says upon learning his origins, "I think I just figured out how a Black man could be a conservative Republican--you're from outer space!") By setting up this centuries-spanning backstory for his title character, McDuffie takes the Superman myth, a classic tale of the American immigrant, and transforms it into something uniquely and intrinsically African-American.

My favorite chapter in this volume is from Icon #7, wherein Rocket, a fifteen-year-old girl who has recently discovered that she's pregnant, must decide whether or not to keep the baby. McDuffie sets up the story such that Rocket's ultimate choice is entirely believable for her character and he presents this choice in such a way that the reader wants to cheer for her, but he does so while demonstrating an understanding of and compassion for those women in her situation who choose otherwise. I've seen several superhero comics attempt to address such difficult themes as abortion, but none have done so as gracefully and honestly as this one.

I wish now that I had checked out the Milestone line while it was being published in the nineties. I was certainly aware of it, and somewhat intrigued, but never enough to spend a couple bucks to read an issue. I hope that DC continues to publish these collections, so I can catch up on what I missed.

The Button Every Spaceship Should Be Equipped With

(Screen capture from Batman: The Brave and the Bold, "When OMAC Attacks!")

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

My 30 minutes at APE


I barely made it to APE. I ran in en route to somewhere else just long enough to meet and chat with Brandon Dayton, whom I had to meet (had to). I knew Tom Neely was there and I wanted to buy something from him (I dreamed that night that I had), I wanted to shake Keith Knight's hand, and I just learned, just now, that Kate Beaton was there. Kate Beaton, people. And I missed the opportunity to slobber all over her hand.

I'm definitely going to avoid learning who else I missed.

I will say though that even in my brief view, APE was awesome and I want to go back. All this great indie stuff.

At least I left with a copy of Brandon's Green Monk. I'm waiting for a moment when I can savor it, and then I will report.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Two by Robert Kirkman


Okay. Robert Kirkman. How awesome is he?

I was already a bit familiar with Invincible before reading Invincible: The Ultimate Collection, Vol. 1, having read the first, shorter collection, and so I was already primed to be impressed by more nonrejectional reinvention of the superhero genre. And impressed I was. Lex Luthor seems even more rational and reasonable now than he did in February.

Anyway, brilliant, but I want to talk more about another first volume in a Kirkman book, The Walking Dead Volume 1: Days Gone Bye. Once again he's matched himself up with the perfect artist[s] and reinvented a genre while sticking completely within its understood rules. Some lines from the intro:
    I'm not trying to scare anybody. If that somehow happens as a result of reading this comic, that's great, but really... that's not what this book is about....

    ...the best zombie movies aren't the splatter fests of gore and violence.... Good zombie movies show us how messed up we are....there's always an undercurrent of social commentary and thoughtfulness.


    With THE WALKING DEAD I want to explore how people deal with extreme situations and how these events CHANGE them. I'm in this for the long haul. You guys are going to get to see Rick change and mature to the point that when you look back on this book you won't even recognize him.....


    So, if anything scares you... great, but this is not a horror book. And by that I do not mean we think we're above the genre. Far from it, we're just setting out on a different path here. This book is more about watching Rick survive than it is about watching zombies pop around the corner and scare you....


    The idea behind The Walking Dead is to stay with the character, in this case, Rick Grimes for as long as is humanly possible. I want the Walking Dead to be a chronicle of year of Rick's life. We will NEVER wonder what happens to Rick next, we will see it....
He's succeeding.

Both these books are about characters and if there's one bias I have in this life, it's toward character-based fiction.

I recommend starting both these series at the beginning. Give them a chance. You're apt to be pleased.

(Although be wary of guts and gore if that ain't you're thing. No one draws splatter like Ryan Ottley, and Tony Moore's job is to draw zombies. You get what you pay for.)

Ryan Ottley does Invincible
Tony Moore does zombies