Comics and Basic Intentions

When I published the previous entry entitled “Podcasting and the Value of Intent” just over a month ago, I felt a sort of gut catharsis that I got enough of my thoughts on the matter to be coherent enough to actually make sense.  But later on I realized that I had only tackled half of the matter, making this thematic “sequel” necessary.  And by necessary I don’t mean all will be right in the universe once I hit ‘post’, it just means my OC-ness can take a breather or two.  So… onward with the talking very  seriously about very silly things.

When Reading Comics (!), sure it’s all well and good to be mindful of the creator’s intent when you’re reading his product, but the other more important half of the equation is what you yourself intend to get out of it.  What are your intentions every time you pick up a comic book to read it?  Simply put, what do you expect to get out of the experience?

To backtrack a little bit, the idea of this blog post was actually sparked when I saw a comic fan absolutely panning a graphic novel on his website, almost to the point that you thought it was personal.  If I didn’t know any better, I would have thought that whoever made that book had snuck into that gentleman’s house in the dead of night and farted in his pillow while he was asleep.  And nobody likes that (I checked).  But the point in its totality clarified itself to me when this vitriolic pedant did nothing but sing high praises for the likes of Alan Moore and Grant Morrison.  Now that is all well and good, and I agree that those two are quite talented, but (and spoiler alert) not everyone can be Moore and Morrison.

 

And that brings me back to asking you what you expect to get from a comic.  Coz look… if you buy a stack every week, sit down on your comfiest chair and sip on your loveliest beverage, and expect to read Watchmen every time you open a book, you’re going to be disappointed every. single. time.

Are you after closure? Maybe you shouldn’t be reading Spider-Man then.  Are you after realism?  Are you after grit?  Understand that a comic can tell you a story along that line the best way it knows how, but also understand that a comic book may also not necessarily be the best place to decisively deal with something like hunger in Africa.

Set your expectations.  Or better yet, learn not to have any and just let the comic do its job and tell you a story.  Do not, and this is something I myself am guilty of sometimes, try to think ahead of the story.  That can be fun and engaging, but depending on what kind of person you are it affects its own set of annoyances and grievances I’d rather not get into in this post.

To know what you want is to know your place.  Enjoy the Ride and Quit being a bitch.

All told.

 

Five Quitelys

Like many of you, I look up to a lot of artists and always see their work as something not just to be admired but studied as well.  Working in the sequential medium, I find that single images that are able to deliver story are of course given a premium.  And this is what my love for Frank Quitely’s art stems from.  He’s got quite an impressive body of work and I’ve probably missed a handful of his earlier stuff, but below is a selection of my favorite images by him, taken from the material that I’ve been lucky enough to read.

WE3 #1; “Bullet storm”

In the opening of sequence of this mini-series, we are treated to this absolutely stunning image of a hail of bullets eviscerating a human body.  I remember seeing this image for the first time and just dropping my jaw.  The shot is also saved from being too cluttered simply because the artistic decision was made to leave out any trace of background.

All-Star Superman #6; “A boy and his dog”

In this flashback issue, we visit a younger Superman who happens to still have a super-powered dog.  This image manages to capture a genuine sense of playfulness and wonder.  Anyone who has ever run around with a pet dog knows how satisfying it can be.  A playground doesn’t get much grander than a crater on the moon.

American Virgin #1 (cover)

American Virgin was a relatively short-lived series from DC’s Vertigo imprint.  It told the story of a teenage televangelist on a quest to understand the secrets of sexuality and how it related (or conflicted) with his religious beliefs.  I feel this single image that Quitely did captures the spirit of the book,  as well as the feeling the main character had of being swallowed in a living subculture that was as ugly as it was beautiful.  I dare anyone to find a comic cover that’s about 75% taste buds.

All-Star Superman #11; ” POV”

This is a pretty small panel in the masterwork that is All-Star Superman.  It’s a favorite of mine for two reasons:  First because my answer for what superpower I’d want, ever since I was a child, was flight — and this first-person point of view is what I imagine flying over a city would look like.  And second, because this shot was selected with the story in mind.  This panel tells us that Superman is flying to the Daily Planet without having to show us his face or how he is dressed.  This has purpose within the context of the story, but I’ll leave that detail out for those of you who haven’t yet read the book.

You should really be ashamed of yourselves though.

Just sayin’.

And of course.  Something I like to call “Cat Slices of Time” from WE3 #2.

WE3 was such a great book in the sense that it had so many innovative storytelling techniques.  And with the main characters being animals, the great art was never obstructed by excessive dialogue.  This is my favorite sequence in the entire series because it has really intelligent action choreography at the same time using the panel design to tell you that it’s all happening extremely fast.

Obviously, the guy is pretty fucking awesome.  The only real drawback is that he’s not quite as prolific as I often wish he was, but at least it means that whenever he puts something out, it’s special.

Recall: Cebu Comic Con 2011 (1 of 3)

So in the spirit of full disclosure… I meant to write this weeks ago, but work has been insane and life hasn’t been helping.  I could very easily say I’m conducting an experiment: Posting almost a month after the Comic Con in order to see which memories are most vivid and whose faces are most vague… But then that’d be a cop out, wouldn’t it?

Would it?

I dont know.

Comic Con starts a day early for me.  I meet up with Rey, Tom, and Leandro at the UP grounds the night before the thing.  The tents are skeletons and there isn’t yet any layout to speak of.  There are no tells whatsoever of the nerd zoo this place is going to be tomorrow.  See, I studied political science in this college, so it feels nice coming back home and raping it with my friends and the best of intentions.  Good times

Rey and Tom must have two phones each because I swear I see them pick up important calls from each pocket. Almost simultaneously. When the ringing stops I zone out when con business is discussed. I don’t have my hands in that pie. They’re not big enough and I don’t have enough fingers. These guys are it. And they know it.

Nightfall. The soccer field is ground zero. The tents are dressed and the never-to-be-used stage is up. I climb it and make sure to walk all over it to get the mud off my shoes. Figuratively and literally. Talk shop with Leandro ,who doesn’t climb up with me. I tell him it’s fun. He calls me a child. I agree.

This comes back to me when I’m sneezing in my old bedroom in my family home as I’m digging for old books to sell.  The Cyclops-Jean Wedding; A buncha Amalgam books; The Art of Marc Silvestri — basically a ton of 90’s books.  I spend five hours doing this… and in the end I have two piles — To sell and to take home to Davao.  Weeks from now I will forget which was taller.

I fall asleep at 4 am knowing full well I promised I’d be at the con by nine.  I arrive at ten, struggling with a bag full of comic books and bitching about it to everyone I can.

Leandro was right.

(continued…)

Face Off

Somewhere, Alex Cipriano is cracking a Nicholas Cage joke.

Here, people, is the mock cover to the second issue of Urban Animal.  I’ve been drawing it on and off for the past couple of weeks, and today I was blessed with a three-hour window to just slap some color on it.

I had come up with various plays for the layout of this thing — from showing the main character in mid-transformation, to a dinosaur doing an Abbey Road crossing — but I decided to just go with my gut and hint at a key moment within the issue.  I was initially conflicted about whether to make the rex snout bloody or not, but the deep red color turned out to be a nice point of interest.

When in doubt, go for the gross out.

Someone Else’s Toys

A fresh page scanned, a new podcast posted.  I am sitting here at my desk on a cold Thursday morning, staring at the teaser image for Johns’ and Lee’s new Justice League, which is to debut in three months.  The day was filled with the internet din of rumor mongering and shocking confirmations of DC resetting their entire universe and launching fifty-two first issues from September onward.

They’re starting from scratch.

Will this stick?  Or is this yet another Heroes Reborn event Jim Lee is involved with?  I don’t know.  But this all reminds me of something Skottie Young said on a podcast, during one of his more lucid moments:  “Ten years, pussies.  That’s it.  And you’re done.”  He was referring to the number of “good” years one comic fan can really call his own.  A decade.  After that, it becomes clear how cyclical the industry is, and how convoluted histories need to be reset in order for new readers to jump on board.  And then you make a subconscious choice between continuing or ending your fandom, knowing this nature of comics.

Having been exposed to comics by my older brother, I’ve been in love with the art form since I was four years old.  Comics taught me how to read.  Comics taught me how to draw.  And probably most importantly, comics taught me how to be passionate about telling stories.  And in spite of being held at the mercy of retcons and reboots for almost thirty years now, with Skottie’s logic in mind, I have enjoyed comics enough for three fans’ lives.

And here we are again.  Another jumping-on point for some, a potential jumping-off point for others.

But you know what?  Just because heroes and characters we’ve loved for so long need to start from scratch, doesn’t mean the adventures we enjoyed as children are undone.  No one’s taking them away.  What this means is that it’s time for new children to enjoy these stories, and for these characters to be someone else’s toys.  And if that means comics can be enjoyed for more decades to come, then I’m all for it.

Sniffles

Been a bit of a spell since I got to update on here, so if this entry feels terse and fragmented, I’m sorry… but then again, it’s me… so you should really detect no real change.  Huzzah!

June got a little hairy as Jad came down with dengue fever and had to be hospitalized for almost a week.  I had flown down to keep her company as best I could, but the beginning of the rainy season had taken a bit of a toll on me as well — nothing quite as serious, fortunately, but I ended up not getting to stay with her at the hospital as often as I would have wanted, lest I got sicker and became a liability.  That said, my evenings at the hotel were still miserable, but hardly anything compared to Jad’s ailment which, we later discovered, is nicknamed “bone breaking fever.”  They really went out of their way to sugar that one up.

I had bought her a copy of Arnold Arre’s MYTHOLOGY CLASS, and she says it at least took her mind off being sick, if only for precious increments.  With prayer and a whole lot of soldiering on her part, she made a full recovery in a week and celebrated by attacking a happy helping of roast pork.

Brought my flu home with me.  Nothing a week of antibiotics couldn’t handle, but because they were pretty potent peyote-type shaman juice, I couldn’t draw quite as fast as I wanted to because I was getting tremors like a caffeinated mouse in a church bell.  So yeah, work went ouchy.

I hate flu season.  All better now though.

*****   *****   *****   *****   *****

A month after Zuda ended its monthly competitions, they announce that the site itself was shutting down.  PRs and official emails indicate that it’s a decision straight from the higher-ups, made in conjunction with DC’s whole digital initiative.  And while long-running series such as HIGH MOON and BAYOU will be migrated, the newer ones had to be cancelled.  Oh well, them’s the breaks.  More recent interactions at least have DC doing right by us creators, as far as ownership and fair compensation goes.  And I’ll leave it at that.  Heh.

Still talking to Gabe and Matt about Comixology and Graphic.ly.  But I’m currently committing a lot more of my time to 1888 — the first issue of which is nearly half done, as far as line art goes.  Bricks and dead whores, baby!  That’s my suggested alt title, but I don’t think Wolfgang will go for it.  Will keep pushing.  Don’t stop believing.  Heh.

*****   *****   *****   *****   *****

While I was stuck in bed, I got to read a whole bunch of stuff.  Too much in fact, that I’ll just post them as little blurbs instead of my usual “Reading: insert artsy fartsy title here” journal entries…

Scalped (Vertigo)

Sure, Jason Aaron’s Indian Reservation Noir is well into it’s fourth year, but I just got a chance to check it out.  Much like with IMMORTAL IRON FIST and PREACHER, I was late to the party.  But you know what?  I’m glad I was.  Because I don’t think I woulda been able to stand the 30-day wait between issues on this fantastic series.  Someone tell me why this isn’t on HBO.

100 Bullets (Vertigo)

Now this series has been done for a while, but I finally got around to picking up the first three trades coz I’ve been on a weird crime comic spree as of late.  I apologize in advance for the pun, but it’s… hit and miss? As much as the revolving cast keeps things interesting, it also works against the narrative because you cant really invest in anyone.  But I’ll gladly stay in my seat for Risso’s art alone.


I Killed Adolf Hitler (Fantagraphics)

There’s something about the deadpan delivery of this comic that makes it a lot more touching than you expect it to be.  Whatever you’re guessing it’s about based on the title, you’re really only half way there.  The majority of the book is delivered in an 8-panel grid, so there’s a visual immediacy to the story itself, because the pacing really isn’t the point.  And when you get to the end, you’ll get that it’s really a love story more than anything else.


Switchblade Honey (AiT/Planet Lar)

The captain is an asshole and the crew is a mishmash of crack addicts and psychopaths.  Meet the people who will save you from super advanced aliens who see you as nothing more than germs with shoes.  Angry Star Trek.  Warren Ellis.  Go.

The Tres Komikeros podcast will be taking a break after episode 52, which is scheduled for recording this July 17th… coincidentally the same day Jonas Diego is running a 24 Hour Comic Day Challenge.  So we figured… one more show for this season?  We’ll all be at our desks for a whole day anyway.  Fuck it, let’s record a 24-hour podcast.  And that, my friends, is how big decisions are made.  With half-assedness and lots of cursing.  Come listen.  And learn yourself a thing or two… even if it’s only “don’t do it.”

Tres Komikeros 46

EJ, Alex, John, and Migs… that’s right… the whole zoo crew returns for some spankin’ reviews of Invincible Returns #1, Turf #1, and SHIELD #1.

After a round of quick shots, find out who the Tres Komikeros would rather be stuck with in a post-apocalyptic world: Grant Morrison or Jeph Loeb.

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Tres Komikeros 45

In this special episode of TK, John and Migs are joined by Comic Book Club’s Alex Zalben, all the way from New York. The guys talk about Alex’s first Marvel series, Thor and the Warriors Four (out in the states today), and then they have an in-depth review of last week’s finale to DC’s Blackest Night.

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