Pipeline: Pre-New York Comic Con Musings

Tue, October 8th, 2013 at 2:58pm PDT

Comic Books
Augie De Blieck Jr., Columnist

NYCC MARKETING

The convention starts in a couple of days (give or take, depending on when you read this), and the marketing craziness is already afoot. Cars adorned with major characters are roaming the tri-state area. New projects are being announced ahead of the show so as not to get lost in the show buzz. Others are being teased.

Image took it to a brand new level Monday by releasing four teasers that built upon themselves to announce an announcement coming Tuesday. By the time this column goes live, you'll know all about it, but a book from Robert Kirkman and Paul Azaceta is an easy sell around these parts, even if horror isn't my usual genre of choice.

I'm hoping Image did this marketing push to poke fun at the use of the "teaser image" that has gripped this industry in such an ugly way in recent years. If it was done unironically, then, well, I've given up hope.

That said, I'm exciting for whatever "Quantum and Woody" news Valiant may have in store, which is the first time I can say that about the company.

A couple other books will be on sale at the Image booth this weekend that are worth mentioning.

"The Walking Dead #1 Tenth Anniversary Edition" is a great piece of work by colorist Dave Stewart. It's perfect proof that a colorist can make a book desaturated and earth-toned and relentlessly brown without muddying up the art, losing the fine lines, and making a general mess of a book. Stewarts keeps Tony Moore's art in one piece, but adds to it with his choices, helping to separate foregrounds from backgrounds, and keeping a consistent look and feel through the whole issue.

The book also features a 15 page long interview of Robert Kirkman by Eric Stephenson that is the hidden treat of the book. Some of the stories in there I had heard before, but there's lots of new stuff for long-time fans. You'll find out more about abandoned storylines, alternate paths characters were planned to once walk, and the behind-the-scenes fun and games of making a comic.

Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder's "Rocket Girl" #1 is also out in stores tomorrow. It's a nice science fiction piece of fun. It's bright and poppy. It's not dark and gloomy and nihilistic. It bounces when it could just as easily slice and dice. It features characters you want to learn more about, and not just to figure out the next twist in the plot.

The elevator pitch is simple: A girl from the teen police of the future (actually, 2013) comes back to New York City in 1986 to stop some scientists from doing something that will make the future bad. The book alternates between two time periods, jumping back and forth without notice, though obviously so.

The best bit of the book for me is that the book is set in the 1980s and wears the culture on its sleeve, but doesn't make a point of showing it off. Characters aren't referencing movies of the time or making obvious references to Rubik's Cubes or anything like that. It's there to see. The main characters and all the people in the background dress appropriately for the time, but don't need to wear "RELAX" shirts to prove it.

This is one to keep an eye on.

EUROPEAN COMICS NEWS

Blacksad is returning! The fifth book in the series has a title and a cover and, presumably, a sequential narrative to go inside of it. There's no timeline on its publication abroad or here, but I'm fairly confident Dark Horse will handle it at the appropriate time. Their other "Blacksad" publications have been well received critically, at least.

Asterix's new book has a 2,000,000 copy print run, narrowly beating out Marvel's recent OGN, "Avengers Endless Wartime" by roughly 1,990,000 copies, give or take.

LINKS: CREATORS, ARTISTS, WRITERS

  • Drop everything now and go to the latest update on the Kickstarter page for Seqarts' Image Comics documentary, "Comics in Focus: The Image Revolution." You can watch a seven minute segment of the movie with the details of the day Image started. Just that little snippet includes interviews with Rob Liefeld, Todd McFarlane, Jim Valentino, Whilce Portacio, Erik Larsen, Jim Lee, and Marc Silvestri. The movie is being delayed a little bit for good reasons mentioned in the update, but I can't wait to see it.

  • Sean Howe's The Marvel Age of Comics Tumblr site is always a fun read, but check out this piece reprinting "Comics Scene Magazine" #1 from 30 years ago, which has an interview with Stan Lee and Jim Shooter talking about the first twenty years of Marvel Comics.

    Then realize that Image Comics is now older than Marvel was at that point.

    Feel old yet?

  • Mike Mayhew is one of the photorealistic artists whose work appeals to me. It's not completely stiff. The final art doesn't look like a Photoshop filter placed over a page torn from the Victoria's Secret catalog. He hasn't lost his ability to tell a story for the sake of his style, nor does he limit his angles to accommodate the more straight-on angles seen in common reference material.

    Check out this page that Brian Bendis blogged recently and you might see what I mean. I love the color scheme of the page, too. It's bright and airy, with the texture and shading adding just the right feel to the page.

    But -- and you saw that coming, didn't you? -- the photorealistic style still squelches so much of the exaggeration that a cartoonist looking to create more abstracted art has at his disposal. When you see Mockingbird's face in the third panel, she looks stiff. Her eyes are crossed. The eyebrows try to sell the shocked expression her face is making, but there's something missing, still. What's missing is the slight exaggeration that a different art style would allow. Imagine the eyebrows arched up even higher, the mouth in a different position that maybe you couldn't necessarily replicate with a fast camera and a strong actress, but the kind that still puts the point across.

    Maybe that second panel could even use a more dramatic forced perspective, where the note on the bed would look super huge up close to the reader, with Mockingbird reaching towards it. It's a nice low angle Mayhew chose to tell the story and create an angle where the eye is drawn naturally to the note on the bed, but it's still beholden to the "realistic" art style that focuses too strongly on getting the anatomy completely perfect.

    To me, the magic of comics is about the abstractions they contain. Things that are physically impossible can be done in comics. Things that would look silly in real life can look awesome when drawn on a page. Things that couldn't be shown from a certain angle because there isn't a camera lens made to handle it, or because something else physically would get in the way can now be clearly shown in a comic because reality isn't an overriding factor. I want my comics to be further away from the Uncanny Valley.

    If you prefer it the other way, I am glad you have comics to enjoy, too.

  • News alert: This is how "Chew" began, isn't it?

  • And finally: Happy birthday (today!) to my daughter, the bestest five year old girl in the world! I'm glad she still likes it when I draw a Smurf for her.
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