COMIC BOOK PREVIEW OF THE DAY: ANTI #2.
Man, I feel like twelve miles of rough road.
To those of you hitting the links, and supporting this blog through the links… Thanks. I’m not going to get into why (outside of sucky publishers dragging their feet, and dishonest editors) what you’re doing is making a huge difference right now, but it is.
Okay, onto today’s content:
Podcast of the Day:
The guys at SIDEBAR CAST have a really enjoyable pod-cast today. The pod-cast generally covers illustrators and artists, today they expand that a bit to interview Director/Filmmaker Ernest Dickerson.
Ernest Dickerson is these days most widely known as one of the Directors on WALKING DEAD! It’s a fun discussion! I haven’t watched WALKING DEAD yet, the conflicting reports has put me in no rush to see the series, plus I’m catching up on the Graphic Novel/issues.
But after listening to the discussion, I’ll make time when I can… to view the WALKING DEAD dvds. Also just Ernest Dickerson’s discussion on getting things made in Hollywood is hilarious. Particularly the hurdles and trials he had to go through to get his first film as director, JUICE, made.
Shame on you Richard Donner group.
Also great anecdotes about Gary Busey!!! Outside of my eye twitching whenever he says African-American (frequent surfers on this blog will know I hate the term African-American) it’s a captivating episode.
Give the SIDEBAR CAST a listen here. You’ll thank me!
The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season (3-Disc Special Edition) [Blu-ray]- Considering this is the only one with commentaries for the episodes, this would be the version to buy. I’m a commentary guy, for me there’s no sense buying a DVD that doesn’t offer special features and commentary.
However, with a $60 retail price for a 6 episode season (for the Blu-Ray), ANCHOR BAY/AMC must be on crack!!! First they put out the cheap barebones DVD and Blu-Ray, then they triple dip with a DVD/Blu-ray that Finally offers commentaries, but cranks the price up into the stratosphere. Shame on you ANCHOR BAY/AMC! Shame!
I’ll wait till 1/ the price drops to something sane like $12 or 2/ more likely they release the season1/season2 boxset at a decent price. For those of you not interested in waiting, you can get it
discounted here: The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season (3-Disc Special Edition)
That’s the DVD, but is a lot more reasonably priced then the Blu-ray.
“These people are like family to me. It has not been easy for anybody. Let me put it that way: It was like a death in the family. Only I was the dead guy. I felt like William Holden, face down in the swimming pool, narrating this thing.”– Frank Darabont on his departure from WALKING DEAD
Okay we’re wrapping this puppy up of the best Comic book covers of 2011. This covers the rest of the year not covered in the first part of this Article.
Okay onto the fun!
John Tyler Christopher for Annihilators: Earthfall #1
Steve McNiven for Captain America #1,3- Steven McNiven in addition to interior work, did several covers. These two were head and shoulders above all the rest of his covers for 2011. They differentiate themselves, particularly #1 by being very memorable. A great cover notable by distilling an entire issue into one image. A great cover is something iconic. CAPTAIN AMERICA #1 is a poster waiting to happen.
Sean Phillips for all four of the CRIMINAL LAST OF THE INNOCENT and select INCOGNITO covers. I didn’t care for some of his INCOGNITO covers in 2011, I think both as concept and covers INCOGNITO never quite gelled into having an identity. Whereas with CRIMINAL LAST OF THE INNOCENTS (as well as the other story-lines) the covers just scream creativity and read me. Great stuff.
JH Williams III knocks it out with his cover for BATWOMAN #1.
Kalman Andrasofszky for X-23 #14. I have no interest in this character or this book, but that is just a fun cover.
Esad Ribic did a lot of covers for 2011, but his covers tend to be too static for my liking. They fail to make me interested. Two exceptions, that made this list being X-FORCE #4 and #13.
Gabriele Dell’Otto gives a very intriguing cover to VENGEANCE #1. And Joe Casey seems to have an intriguing story to tell, but I couldn’t get past the very bland interior art by, to me, an unknown. But Dell’Otto’s cover did the job, it had me interested in buying the book. However the interior art quickly unsold me.
Sean Murphy for American Vampire: Survival of the Fittest #1.
Gorgeous Terry & Rachel Dodson covers highlight UNCANNY X-MEN 537 & 535. For some reason they knock it out of the park when drawing Kitty Pride. however the other characters they do in other covers… Emma, Colossus, Wolverine… not so much. But with their Kitty Pride covers it’s like that’s when they get interested and inspired. I think they just love drawing brunettes.
David Yardin worked his way on this list with two covers that are very visceral, bordering on a rough, muscular moment of ugliness captured, frozen in that moment before the point of no-return. Namely:
Spider-Island: Heroes for Hire #1- A silly cover for a silly storyline, but Yardin’s cover (based on a Romita cover) makes it more compelling than it should be and X-Factor #219. The covers depict ugly moments, which are disturbing, but it’s drawn with sexiness and sensuality beneath the savagery so it makes for something of an uneasy and unsettling image that gets you to stop and take notice. And that’s what covers strive to do.
I like wrap around covers so thumbs up to New Mutants #25, looks a bit computer generated, but nice enough.
Jock for Daredevil Reborn #4
Birds of Prey #11 by Stanley Lau. Jae Lee’s cover looks more than a little like this one. I’ll leave that for others to ponder. Getting back to Lau, I dislike all of Lau’s covers for CAPTAIN ATOM, his earlier work on BIRDS OF PREY is much better. It’s like the work of two completely different artists.
Dan Brereton for Spider #1
That’s it kids. Let’s call it a wrap on the best Comic Book Covers of 2011!!!
Hope you enjoyed, and here’s hoping for even more great covers in 2012!!!
Reviewing SIGHT UNSEEN Graphic Novel
Written by Robert Tinnell
Art by Bo Hampton
Published by Image Comics
Review Copyright 2011 Heroic Times
All rights reserved
When was the last time a book with pictures… scared you?
Gross you out? Yes. Surprise you or excite you? Certainly. With a clever page reveal, WALKING DEAD surprises all the time.
But scare you?
Sequential art (I don’t use the term comic-book, it’s not about elitism, it’s just I don’t like misnomers. The term comic-book may have been accurate 80 years ago, it just isn’t today. So you’ll catch me using a bunch of terms, GN. Trade, Collected Edition, Monthly, Slim [you read it here first:) ], but very rarely comic) being too far out of your head, lacks the ability a novel offers to surrender yourself to your internal dialog, and Sequential art being too much in your head, doesn’t allow you to surrender yourself to someone else’s external dialog.
So that should spell no to the idea of getting scared by the marriage of words and art, because fear requires loss of control, the surrender of your senses to the violation of the other (in terms of media film/tv/radio drama) or the hypnotism/violation of the self (novel).
Graphic Literature, slims, manga (insert your favorite nomenclature here) is a bastard medium that is somewhere removed from those two extremes of submission, and as such is a medium that is in large part about viewing specific moments at your leisure. The ability to linger on a particularly affecting panel, or race through multiple panels, or rereading a word balloon, all define graphic sequential viewing as a medium for lovers of the moment, and as such you tend to be an aloof master of time in sequential stories, and fear requires you to be time’s slave.
I’ve read all kinds of slims. All kinds of horror GNs. I’ve read slims that have sickened me, disgusted me, surprised me.
But I have never read a slim that has scared me.
Based on all the reasons given, there is no such thing. At least that’s what I thought till I read Robert Tinnell’s and Bo Hampton’s SIGHT UNSEEN.
Published by Image Comics back in 2006, 5 years ago at this writing, it is a relatively unknown book and somehow that almost seems fitting; as if it is one of those whispered of tomes, more myth than matter.
SIGHT UNSEEN is a ghost story and like all ghost stories it requires, not that you believe, but that you want to believe. It requires that ineffable quality that all ghost stories require, your willingness to be— seduced. If for you horror is less splatter and gore and slasher or zombie, and instead is crystallized by titles like The Legend of Hell House (1973) and The Haunting (1963) than SIGHT UNSEEN is a book that waits… for you.
Specifics I always find idiotic things. I don’t read spoilers, I don’t read the back of paperbacks, that tend to give away lots of great things you should experience, rather than have told to you.
I come to reviews not looking to be told, beyond the most generic themes, what I’ll find, rather I ask only that you enlighten me to what I may feel.
And with that consideration, is how I review.
The most generic description of SIGHT UNSEEN is it is a book about a man who seeks to see the dead, foolishly perhaps not preparing… for the dead to see him. There’s a nice technological hook to the story that elevates it out of the ‘routine’ ghost story, and into the unusual and innovative.
Yeah, I hear you saying, but where does the scare come in?
Robert Tinnell creates an immersive engaging story, but with any other artist it would suffer from that normal distancing effect, that makes for a great graphic novel, or a nice static story, but not anything more than that.
No, the true alchemy here is with artist Bo Hampton.
Bo Hampton, does something in this GN that I have never seen in three decades of reading comics, he makes the characters move.
These static images, he arranges, he places, he cuts, he juxtaposes in such a way, that in moments he breaks that anchor of control, of distance, that is always there between word and picture, and should be there.
It is the charm of the medium that it is there, our control, and Bo Hampton with foreshortening, and blurring, and angles, and an inexplicable understanding of how to get behind our eyes, in brief moments sets us adrift from our control, and we find ourselves, not watching bad places, but in bad places and among bad things.
And that bit of immersion that the story of Robert Tinnell married to the art of Bo Hampton pulls off, is as close to alchemy as anything you’ll read in the story.
He creates sequential art that does two things that sequential art seldom or never does, match perfectly the tone of the story the writer tells AND match perfectly the angles and perspectives and images those words would invoke in your own head.
Hampton shatters that normal, fun difference and dissonance between writers perspective, artist perspective, and readers perspective that makes comics so expansive a medium, and by collapsing these three perspectives he creates a fetid, claustrophobic, dank, limiting idea space, that pulls you in.
And watches you.
In the years since first reading this… accident on paper, this odd confluence of genius or mania, I have never come across another sequential art book, by the creators or anyone else, that does what this book does. That makes a thing of words and pictures… writhe.
The book is called SIGHT UNSEEN and if your brain is wired anything like mine, the book will make you do something a ‘comic-book’ wasn’t designed to make you do.
It will make you look over your shoulder.
Your mileage may vary, but if it doesn’t… you are in for a treat.
Grade: 4.5 out of 5
Okay, you know how I was championing the collected edition of the Luna Brother’s GIRLS. Brilliant book by the way, proudly displayed on my bookshelf.
Okay I just made it all the way through THE SWORD. All 24 issues, I have both the issues and the collected edition but I do feel you get something out of reading the letters-pages, plus I like the sense of temporality (yes I did just invent that word ) it gives to the story, the definite sense of cliffhangers and pacing, that is felt when you have to close one book and transition to the next. I think it works surprisingly well in those 22 page chunks. So my first time through I’m reading the issues as opposed to the big honking collected edition.
I have to say as good as GIRLS is, and it is very good, THE SWORD is head and shoulders better.
Well, I just finished all 24 issues, and gone through the collected edition(I love that they include the original covers to break up the chapters… take note Robert Kirkman, that’s how you’re supposed to do a collected edition!… definitely helps with the sense of temporality), over two years of story and art… my verdict?
Well first, let’s back up and be petty for a bit.
The title, brilliant title, very simple, very to the point… THE SWORD.
How can you mess that up?
Well you’d be surprised! I need to call a couple people out, while it is spelt SWORD, the W is silent, it is pronounced ‘sord’. So unless you’re effing Arnold Schwarzenegger, you don’t pronounce the damn W. When in doubt check the effing dictionary! Damn podcasters! I’m looking at you!!! You know who you are! . (Oh and don’t get all riled I love podcasters. In fact my 2010 Best of Podcast Retrospective will probably be up next posting!)
And it’s not ‘supposibly’, the word is supposedly. I swear everyone who comes from a certain close by state, that will remain nameless, pronounces it ‘supposibly’, drives me up the frigging wall.
Do you feel the hate? I Know, I’m sorry, I’m usually in such a good mood when I do these blog updates.
But I’m in really an odd place right now, after reading THE SWORD.
Okay for those who haven’t read it, all you need to know is… it is brilliant! Go buy it now!
I do highly recommend reading it, because it is one of the most brilliant works in its construction and its audacity, that you are going to find. And because they offer the original covers to denote chapter breaks, the collected edition will work brilliantly as most peoples first, and only, introduction to the work.
I appreciate if you use these links as they help make a few pennies for this blog. So it’s a great way to get a great item for yourself or a loved one, and also help me continue bringing you these mad blog posts! So thanks in advance! And if you do buy via the links drop me an email, or leave a comment here saying you bought it or what you thought of it, and I’ll send you a freebie for supporting. Now back to our regularly scheduled program…
So go, buy the collected edition, say uncle HT sent ya, then come back and read the rest of this. Because beyond this point there be Dragons! Spoilers abound as I give a play by play of my run through the series, to the ending, to the odd place I am right now.
You’ve been warned. Okay, without further ado…
The Annotated Sword 1-24 or how these issues kicked my ass!
#1- If you’re not familiar with the Luna Brother’s the art can at first seem simplistic, stiff. But trust me it is anything but. What you’ll get in-tuned to, almost immediately, is the brothers are masters of conveying emotion through these lines on paper. The facial expressions are amazing and convey an almost palpable sense of who these characters are. And that emotion transcends the seeming minimalism of the artwork. Also they make the art breathe, mostly Jonathan in terms of the finished art, Joshua is credited with Layout and Lettering, and they both do the story. A big part of why the artwork works is the coloring and lighting and shading and perspective and focus and variety of other effects Jonathan uses to imbue these 2 D images with life. Another part is shot selection, and the use of panels against a black background. You become that much more funneled in, due to the images of light bound by that darkness. I’ve heard cinematic used to describe the effect, it works as well as any, though sensual is perhaps more accurate. This issue introduces us to Dara Brighton, a nice introduction, a meaningful one, before all meaning leaves her life; or more accurately, before her life becomes hijacked, forfeit, to greater meanings. It’s a great first issue with a cliffhanger to set the stage, for many to come.
#2-2nd issues can often be difficult, as they are oft the exposition heavy portion of the story. The great thing you learn in this issue, and that continues throughout the series is the Luna Brothers ability to make their talking scenes as compelling and captivating as their action sequences. The silences in the hands of the Lunas are as deafening as the explosions.
#3- Speaking of explosions this is where we learn what the Sword, and a young woman called Dara Brighton, picked by fickle fate to survive… can do. Phenomenal, jaw-dropping (in more ways than one) issue! The first “shout-out-loud” great cliffhanger of the series. A+.
#4- What amazes me is the Luna Brothers art. No one is going to mistake their art for Kevin Nowlan, or Art Adams, or Alex Ross or Gil Kane or JH Williams III or any of the masters of the medium, technically they are not draftsmen of that level, however what they are is masterful storytellers. I said it before it comes down to expression and shot selection, and using those two tools, they’ve created an issue that moves, and compels you to turn pages! They rivet you with just how masterfully they invest their characters into the story, and you into the characters. Add to that their ear for dialog, the naturalistic amidst the absurd. This issue is a chase, and at the end of it Dara Brighton, wielder of the sword… makes a choice that puts her at the mercy of a world that cannot understand her. B+.
#5 The thing that strikes you about this issue is just how solid and strong the storytelling is. From Dara waking up to see herself chained in a mirror, to her breakdown as the agent makes her consider her father’s culpability in her family’s murder, to the perspective shot of her leaping over the agents. Just great visual storytelling to go with a great story. A-.
#6- Dara is reunited with her fugitive friends, and a history lesson is told. Very engrossing. B+.
#7- This issue flows between riveting storytelling and laugh-out loud moments. “Girl pants”, “bus trip”. And the Luna Brothers are masters of the final page. Of that iconic last image/line that makes you go “Damn!”. I own the SWORD COLLECTED EDITION but the best way to initially read this series, and the way I’m doing it, is reading the singles with letter pages. You really need that moment between issues, to recognize that down-time, that transition. Great issue. A-.
#8- Another winner “Reached into the bowl” Great issue, but you know what I said previously about the Lunas being the masters of the last page. If this last page doesn’t make you cackle out loud, there is something wrong with you. Masterful cliffhangers. Plus that’s a fantastic cover. A-.
#9-If the ending of this issue doesn’t make you go…”Aww Sh*t!!!!” , then I repeat… There is something wrong with you. Yeah bring it!!!! Frigging awesome storytelling. Dara at the mercy of the monster that killed her sister.A+.
#10- Woah. Like the protagonist you suddenly realize this is a lot harder than you thought it was going to be. A-.
#11- It’s a LOT! LOT!! HARDER! Man, what a throwdown, and it’s getting worse. You can almost say shes on her last… legs? Doh! It’s compulsive page turning entertainment. A-.
#12 The first year or thereabouts of the SWORD comes to an end, and the Luna Brothers could not have ended it better. Dara is 1/3rd of the way through her ordeals, and it has taken much. It primes you, as does the last page, primes the remaining two thirds with simple question… what next? Great issue. A-.
#13- Coming off the powerhouse first 12 issues, this issue was more a lull before the storm. Didn’t really captivate or emotionally resonate with me like previous issues, on first read, but still good. B.
#14- Is back on stride, as Dara and friends… storm the house of an elder god. Great “Bring it!” Cliffhanger! B+.
#15- Efffing INSANE! There are no words! Just read the audacious lunacy that is this issue! Man! They are putting this girl through a lot. A+.
#16- Dara goes toe to toe with an elder God. Nuff said. A+.
#17- Dara vs Giant Rock Elder God! More, more, more. B+/A-.
#18- What a frigging AWESOME final page! Cackling my head off like a loon. Absolutely brilliant. And just the expressions the Luna Brothers put on everyone, but especially Dara as a woman driven beyond all limits of man or god, to exact revenge. Brilliant. A-frigging +.
#19- Wow. How is it possible the Luna Brothers can follow up one of their most action packed issues, with a contemplative one, of mostly talking heads and make it one of the best issues of the run? I’m in awe, as Dara and Friends discuss the future and the past on the way to meet the last of the gods. A+.
#20- Dara lands in New York… and mayhem ensues. Absolutely great series. A-.
#21- Do you know what it is that makes these issues, this story so great. The Luna Brothers have an unerring grasp of both the naturalistic, who we are in our everyday failings and strivings to succed, and the iconic, and their ability to switch between those two poles of our existence… powers what is best about THE SWORD. Once again the last few pages made me go… OH YEAH! And that by itself deserves an A+.
#22- Ouch! That was effing harsh. I don’t even have that particular organ, and it hurt me to watch. I can’t even grade this issue, kinda painful. Double ouch.I go into the last two issues, and I who have known the world… am afraid, That’s pretty damn good storytelling.
#23- Okay. Did not see that coming at all—- brain overloading– too much data! Danger Will Robinson! Danger! Series is blowing my mind.
This is MAJOR SPOILER territory, so read only after reading the whole series.
#24- And now we come to the end. God that was fucking depressing. Talk about a crucifixtion. That’s no way for anybody to die. To go through all that pain, save the world, and then to end like that. Man you Luna Brothers are some cruel SOBs. Uhhh… so depressed, must open vein now.
Over 2 years of story… brilliant, but why oh why would the Luna Brothers let the story of Dara end so brutally, so… unfairly. I know, I know… cause life isn’t fair. Efff that!!! You save the world multiple times you should get more for it than… that. I’m on record as wanting an epilogue to this story to give Dara the happy ending she deserves. I’m looking at you Luna Brothers! I’M LOOKING AT YOU! Call me a hopefull romantic, but I like to believe in happy endings.
“When you strip everything away from the Batman, you’re left with someone who doesn’t want to see anybody die!”–from Ross and Waid’s KINGDOM COME
Unlike the above quote I understand that all life ends in death, but I guess if you strip everything away from me you’re left with someone who doesn’t want anyone to die badly. Who believes that lives of honor, should warrant a little bit of happiness or at least deaths of honor.
It is a dark end to a brilliant book. However I would like to imagine an unseen end to Dara Brighton, where she was acknowledged for her great deeds, and given a gift for those deeds. A boon.
It’s a dream… I have.
And who knows, much like David Peterson of Mouse Guard… who let famous writers and artists do a take on his characters, maybe the Lunas could do a similar one-shot epilogue issue where various creators give their take on Dara Brighton’s end or resurrection or salvation, etc.
Well that’s it for now. Luna Brothers’ are taking a break from joint work, to pursue individual projects, so nothing on the horizon (beyond possible movie talk) to followup THE SWORD. But whatever the future brings for these talented young men (have you seen them? They look like they are ten. To be that young and that talented is mind blowing!) they have left a body of work that will long be admired, enjoyed, and ultimately emulated.
The ending did not make me a happy camper, but the ride is not to be missed. THE SWORD by The Luna Brothers gets my highest recommendation… A-.
I saw this poster, and this young lady would make the perfect Dara Brighton. The combination of beauty, a certain foreboding, a certain vulnerability, and a certain resolve, all captured in a look. Her face is impossible to look away from. With lips that men in ages past built temples to. Alluring on levels that words do barely touch.