Pipeline: Pipeline2, Issue #113

Fri, August 24th, 2001 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Augie De Blieck Jr., Columnist

WIZARD WORLD PHOTO PARADE PART DEUX

Welcome back to The Convention In Pictures. These pictures were all taken last weekend at WizardWorld Chicago 2001.

Right after the pictures, you'll find a last minute preview for the upcoming IMAGE INTRODUCES.

[Arthur DeLaCruz]Arthur Dela Cruz is responsible for KISSING CHAOS, the upcoming 8-issue mini-series from Oni Press. It's coming out in 16 page increments every three weeks. Dela Cruz produces the art by scanning in his pencil work, manipulating it with Painter, and finally importing it into PhotoShop.

The first batch of pages saw print in the Oni Summer Color Spectacular earlier this year. It's beautiful looking stuff. I can't vouch for the story just yet, but it definitely deserves a chance.

I think it's also important to help out the format. If this is an idea that appeals to you, then support it by buying it every three weeks. Waiting for the collection at the end will get you the story and maybe save you a couple of bucks, but I'm not sure how you think you'd be helping the production aspect of it.

Dela Cruz is a quiet guy who spent a lot of time at the Oni booth over the weekend. He apologized for the sketch he did in my book before he did it, saying that pencil is his medium and he only had a marker available. Quite honestly, I'd take his rough sketch with a marker over the fully-rendered pencils and inks of so many artists today.

[Norrie and Rich]Also seen at the Oni booth over the weekend was the creative team of HOPELESS SAVAGES, Christine Norrie and Jen Van Meter. Pictured here is Norrie with her editor/goofball-in-chief/novelist/ex-letterhack Jamie S. Rich.

The first issue of the new series is relatively easy to get into. While Rich provides a wealth of commentary in the text page at the end about the importance of punk rock to this series, it doesn't weigh it down. I know next to nothing of that music. It's not in my CD collection at all. But you don't need it. I'm sure I'm missing a couple of the jokes in the book because of this. I only recognize the imagery of a character holding up signs with the captions from the Weird Al video which spoofed it back in his UHF days. I couldn't even tell you who he was spoofing.

Nevertheless: Jen Van Meter's story nicely sets everything up, introducing us to one character at a time and doing so in a way that keeps the story moving. There's a lot of background involved with this series that isn't spelled out specifically. So long as you pay attention as you read, though, you should be able to pick enough of it up to follow and enjoy.

The whole point in this review is that it's something of a balancing act. It's based on a family whose previous short adventures I've never read. It's set in a punk rock family, whose music does nothing for me. And this first issue does relatively little aside from introducing us to the characters and defining them by their reactions to the even that kicks off the story.

I enjoyed the first issue, but I'm on the fence about it. I think the second issue will tell me whether or not this is something for me.

Norrie has a website at spookoo.com that's worth a look at. The sketchbook section, in particular, is a lot of fun to flip through and loads up fairly quickly, even on my measly 56k modem. (Nuts. I should have asked for a sketch when I had the chance.)

[Matt Wagner]Here's perennial fan favorite Matt Wagner, with Pipeline message board regular Josh and his newly acquired sketch sure to get him involved in some messy legalwork. I won't even say the name of the character for fear of being issued a summons. (I'm sure Joe Quesada could put in a good word for me with Neil Gaiman's lawyer, if need be...)

[Butch Guice]Meanwhile, over at the always busy CrossGen booth, Butch Guice took a moment out to smile for the camera. His upcoming series at CrossGen is RUSE, the detective saga for the company.

Over Guice's left shoulder is super-artist George Perez, whose ass was never seen all weekend because it was planted on that chair for the entirety. In San Diego, Perez did 203 sketches over the course of four days and Preview Night. While WizardWorld is only three days, the lines were just as long and just as persistant. When I get the final tally, I'll be sure to print it here.

[Steve Lieber]Over in Artists Alley, meanwhile, a comic-zoologist might notice the classic pose of the distraught artist that nobody pays any attention to. This is Steve Lieber. He's the guy that everyone walking through Artists Alley avoids eye contact with. It's not that they're afraid he'll suck them in -- his work is pretty repulsive -- but that they'll feel sorry for him, toss him another crumb to munch on, and contribute to his obesity. Sad, really. Thus he sits alone with only a small bag of trail mix for nourishment.

It's my theory that he's still distraught DC brought back Hawkman without him...

[Phil Noto]BIRDS OF PREY cover artist Phil Noto: Disney guy by day, kick-ass comics artist by night. Not only that, but he's a nice guy, too. He'll be doing a Black Bull mini-series next year and continues to do BIRDS OF PREY covers regularly, for which we should all be grateful.

[Todd Fox]Todd Fox was once hailed in the mid-1990s as the Next Great Todd (referring to McFarlane as the first) with his breakthrough Wolverine story in MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS. That didn't quite pan out, but he's still a talented artist. In Chicago, he was selling copies of his creator-owned book, THE DEVIL YOU KNOW, which he hopes to sell to a major publisher soon. It's a military action story set overseas on a mission gone horribly wrong. It's part SUICIDE SQUAD and part QUEEN AND COUNTRY. Fox does a good job in keeping the reader turning the pages with an interesting story. With a small number of minor changes, I think it would be ready for comics mainstream publication.

[Jamal Igle]Here is Jamal Igle, one of the best comic book artists currently without a monthly gig. Right now, you can catch his stuff on the final issue of MARTIAN MANHUNTER. He also landed a gig at the con drawing a backup story in an upcoming issue of NOBLE CAUSES in early 2002. That one is written by his old partner in crime from NEW WARRIORS, Jay Faerber.

IMAGE INTRODUCES #1

I don't know a whole lot about the simian movie genre. I've never seen the PLANET OF THE APES movies that I can remember. I've never seen KING KONG. I've never seen MIGHTY JOE YOUNG. I do, however, know that there's a long-standing tradition of monkeys and apes in comics, going back mostly to the 1960s and DC. Characters like Gorilla Grodd, Angel and the Ape, and even Sjy Ape all have their own cult followings.

Co-writers Beau Smith and Kevin Bernhardt (a screenwriter and actor, himself) wish to continue all of that this October in the pages of the first issue of IMAGE INTRODUCES #1. The story is "Primate: The Sword of Darwin." It tells the story of Bobo the Gorilla, a particularly smart gorilla who takes vengeances on the humans who've done him wrong thanks to a mystic intervention. Ripped out of the preserves of Africa and into the big city of New York, Bobo must maintain his level of awareness while trapped in an alien world.

The story attempts to be a movie in 22 full color pages. It moves along briskly, introducing the characters and the concepts of the story at a breakneck pace, wasting no time in following up on plot threads without introducing distracting subplots. It's mean and lean storytelling. The protagonists are instantly likeable.

On the flip side, the story could really use a few more pages to flesh things out and pace the story just a little better. Bits of the action, as well as what little exposition there was, might have been served better with an extra page here and there. There are also a couple of questionable choices, such as the child in danger bit that gets shoe-horned in to force a conclusion without the resonance that might have made for a stronger ending. The mystical way in which Bobo is awoken takes a bit of suspension of disbelief. These are both things that can be overcome, but I think the story might have needed a few more pages and a couple of minor rewrites to get there.

The art is by Mitch Byrd on pencils and Ryan Odagawa on inks. Odagawa is an old favorite from his days on WildStorm's much-underrated SAVANT GARDE. I hope he gets a pencilling assignment someday soon. Byrd's art is extremely easy to follow, technically adept, and strongly visual in the places it needs to be. He can draw a gorilla and make him look distinguished and exciting all at the same time. Doctor Lim -- his human mentor -- comes off both warm and sexy without being another pin-up girl or losing half her clothes.

The book sees print in October with 22 full-color story pages for PRIMATE. There's already talk in Hollywood about adopting the property for the big screen. That's fitting given the way the story unfolds. Your local retailer should be putting his or her final orders in on Tuesday, so be sure to pre-order the book this weekend if it interests you.

Next week in Pipeline I'll get back to more timely comics reviews and a focus on CrossGen, including some material (and a picture or two) that got bumped from this column. The topic took on a life of its own that necessitated its own column.

In the meantime, take a look at this week in Oddball Comics. Today caps the Lois Lane Crotch-Centric cover parade, including a couple of the funniest covers Scott Shaw! has ever featured here at CBR.

You can e-mail me your comments on this column, or post them for all the world to see and respond to over on the Pipeline Message Board.

More than 250 columns are archived here at CBR and you can get to them from the Pipeline Archive page. They're sorted chronologically. The first 100 columns or so are still available at the Original Pipeline page, a horrifically coded piece of HTML.

Finally, you can catch me at the Small Press Expo in Bethesda, Maryland this September.

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