Pretty Girls: Eduardo Risso

October 29th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

I yapped this piece of Nancy from Frank Miller’s Sin City from ComicArtFans.

Eduardo Risso: Wiki, ComicBookDB, Lambiek, 100 Bullets Week
Books: Start with 100 Bullets Vol. 1: First Shot, Last Call and work your way down the series. All the images in this post are from 100 Bullets. Colors by Grant Coleash or Patricia Mulvihill.
Why? Stupid statement alert: I like Risso for what he draws and doesn’t draw in equal parts. Not generally–specifically. He’ll leave out certain details that your mind fills in and render other things in exacting detail. Details drop in and out as needed, and whether it isn’t there or it is, the effect is the same: it looks excellent.

He has a way around noses that I really admire. He suggests facial structure with just a few tiny lines. (It sometimes puts me in mind of whoever did the character design for Final Fantasty Tactics sometimes, but cartoony in a different direction.) Pretty much everyone Risso draws is a bombshell, or clearly used to be one. He’ll stick in subtle wrinkles and cellulite as needed, and it’s all okay. His facial expressions are deadly, too. He’s got mean stares, curiosity, amusement, surprise… he’s got everything down. He knows what to show, what not to show, and how to do it best.

All that and his signature is ill, too.

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100 Bullets: The Saint

April 25th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

The more I think about it, the less I have to say.

100 Bullets is really a series that speaks for itself. The craft and love that went into it shows on every page. You’ve got a ton of fully-realized characters, a mega-arc that gives up amazing chances for discussion and speculation, and a concept that could go on forever.

The main reason why I just did five days straight of images is because I know that fans of the series, those who stuck with it and came out on top, are gonna get it. You see “Jungle or zoo?” and know what it says about Jack’s life. You can look at a single panel of Remi Rome and see his try-hard swagger. You see “Pun. First syllable a PUN-ish-ment,” and think back to how Loop went from a boy to a man, and ended up smarter than anyone else expected.

The thing about being a comics reader is that you come to expect a certain kind of storytelling. X-Men, Superman, Green Lantern, Spider-Man, all of those feature characters, but aren’t really about the characters. They are corporate icons, mascots, and on some kid’s underwear. They can’t change too much, so all of the bang of the characters has to come from action. It’s Frank Castle putting on some superhero gear, holding a gun, and saying something out of an action movie. It’s Hal Jordan once again proving that he’s the prettiest princess on the block by overcoming everything and everyone. And, at the end of the issue, everything is back to normal.

100 Bullets is a story about the characters. It’s money shots aren’t all tied up in explosions, headshots, and fist fights. Those are there, of course, and they are good, but the real bang comes from the characters. It’s Wylie and Dizzy reminiscing over lost loves together, the look in a man’s eyes as he sees his brother for the last time, or the quiet respect that everyone has for Mr. Hughes. It’s the quiet goodbye a man gives to his family before he goes off to do some dirty work, and a peck on the forehead that tells you all you need to know about him and his viewpoint on life.

The Trust, the attache, the mega-arc, all of that is wonderful, but for me, the real joy in 100 Bullets is about the characters. It’s about how they bounce off one another and figuring out what they’re thinking. It’s about who, not what.

I discovered 100 Bullets shortly after I got back into comics, and month-in, month-out, it has been heads and shoulders above every other comic that I’ve read. The weakest issues or arcs are only weak by the high standard set by the others. Risso, Azz, and Mulvihill blew me away for six years straight, and have me looking at other comics now with a jaded eye.

Blackest Night and Dark Reign are boring to me. After the deep-seated menace of Lono and his inability to tell right from wrong, Norman Osborn’s Snidely Whiplash antics are cheap and hollow. After reading about Remi Rome being the most cocksure, try-hard, desperate to please young kid on the block, Hal Jordan is a caricature of somebody’s grandpa’s idea of a superhero.

I can’t take all these stories about how Soandso Lass and Generigal are strong female characters and wonderful and et cetera, because they aren’t. They’re stupid, hollow, and empty. The black characters, too. Luke Cage leads the Avengers now? De-evolve, thug, crawl back in the ocean. Loop and Curtis Hughes, Dizzy Cordova, and Megan Dietrich are characters that you can appreciate without having to go, “Well, they’re great, except for…”

You want your strong, fully realized, and respectful characters of whatever race, creed, or sexuality? 100 Bullets has your black dudes, latinas, old white dudes, Russians, whatever.

That’s where 100 Bullets wins. Even with all of the insane acrobatics, intrigues, and unkillable villains, 100 Bullets is real. It gives you characters who you can believe in, characters who seem like people you could actually know, and put them into situations that only make them more interesting. It’s a book that challenges you with its story and forces you to care about the people you’re reading about.

I had six years of glimpses in on these characters that I’ve grown to love. Its quiet moments are just as loud as the bits where someone is being murdered. I’m going to miss it.

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100 Bullets: The Monster

April 24th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Images in this post from Once Upon a Crime, Dirty, and Wilt. Tomorrow? Commentary on 100 Bullets as a whole.

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100 Bullets: The Bastard

April 23rd, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Images in this post from Strychnine Lives, Decayed, and Once Upon a Crime.

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100 Bullets: The Rain

April 22nd, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Images in this post from Six Feet Under the Gun, Samurai, The Hard Way, and Strychnine Lives.

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100 Bullets: The Dog

April 21st, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Images from this post from A Foregone Tomorrow, The Counterfifth Detective, and Six Feet Under the Gun.

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100 Bullets: The Wolf

April 20th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Images from First Shot, Last Call, Split Second Chance, Hang Up on the Hang Low, and A Foregone Tomorrow.

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100 Bullets: The Point Man

April 19th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

I keep trying to think of an appropriate goodbye for 100 Bullets.

In the past year, I’ve lost The Wire, The Shield, and Garth Ennis’s Punisher MAX. After this past Wednesday, 100 Bullets is gone, too. That’s four great pieces of crime fiction, or noir, or whatever, gone in just under a year. It sucks, but they all got to tell their story to the very end. 100 Bullets is probably my favorite of the four, or at least it is right now, and I have this driving need to pay homage to it somehow.

An issue-by-issue, or trade-by-trade, retrospective sounds so unbearably pat and boring that I just can’t do it. I wouldn’t get anything out of it, and neither would you. I think instead, I’m going to do something different from what I usually do.

100 Bullets, 100 moments. I’ve said before that many moments from 100 Bullets stick out in my memory. I skimmed through all 100 issues and found 100 moments I thought I’d share.

The twist is that these aren’t going to be your usual scans_daily-style “Aw man that rules look how awesome that dude is there doing that awesome thing.” 100 Bullets excels in that Azzarello’s words, Risso’s art, and Mulvihill’s colors mesh into an amazing thing. They build characters, whether that character is a person or a city or a car. The storytelling comes from an odd angle, whether it’s from above meathooks or beneath a table.

So, here’s the plan. Five days. Twenty moments a day. I say moments, as there are a few that are full pages, but most of these are just single panels. I’ll put links at the top for the trades represented, but no commentary is coming otherwise. Just panels, posted in chronological order, that show the team at work. There will be cursing, maybe some violence, who knows.

Fans feel free to chime in down in the comments. I’m sure that a lot of these will kick up memories for you. On Saturday, I’m going to do my big 100 Bullets post to close out the week. If you don’t know 100 Bullets, this won’t spoil much, if you care about that kind of thing.

Ten new headers are up, too, to commemorate 100 Bullets week. Check out the whole series on Amazon here, and I’ll catch you in the morning.

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First Shot, Last Call.

April 15th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso’s 100 Bullets #100 drops today, and it’s the end of the series. I’m planning on picking my copy after work.

I’m kind of sad about it, but a different kind of sad than I was when I finished the first issue of Flash: Rebirth. Rebirth was a signal that the DC Universe is moving in a direction that is pointedly Not For Me. The end of 100 Bullets is the end of a series that was definitely, 100%, absolutely aimed directly at my temple.

100 Bullets started before I got back into comics, and to be honest, I’m not sure exactly when I started it. I think it’s Thomas Wilde’s fault, and skimming covers and wracking my brain leads me to believe that I began picking it up regularly during the Chill in the Oven arc, mid-2003. I know that I read the first arc, then Counterfifth Detective, and then started over again from the beginning.

Since then, I’ve bought every issue and every trade, something I rarely do. Double-dipping is a sucker’s move, but I dig the series enough that I didn’t mind paying twice. While looking over the covers, I was struck with memories ofa series of moments from the series. The Saddest Thing in the NOLA arc, Cole’s one-shot, the peckerwood joke in Chill in the Oven, the history lesson in issue 50, Lono and Loop’s discussion of the d-spot, Victor Ray indulging himself on a mission by doing the Frank Castle thing, Graves losing it when someone important dies, Dizzy’s ascendance, Lono’s look as he realizes that he killed a friend, the teenage pregnancy drama that plays a background role to Graves telling a mother exactly why her daughter died, Remi Rome going from amazing character to my most hated and back around again, the way that Loop’s dad was Mr. Hughes to the Minutemen, never ‘Curtis.’ Dave Johnson’s amazing covers.

These are just moments in the series. The moments build to the story arcs. Dizzy going from hood rat to high class. Loop learning how to be a man via Graves’ guilt over how Loop’s father was treated. The reconnection and dissolution of the Minutemen once again. The fall of the Trust.

It’s a series I’m very fond of, and was hands-down the best comic of the week each and every time. It’s one that rewards repeat readings, and even readings where you skip all of the words and just take in Eduardo Risso’s art. It made me a believer in Vertigo in a way that Sandman and the rest of the boring fantasy books that’d previously made up the bulk of Vertigo didn’t.

100 Bullets was, for me, a Thing. It’s the only comic I’ve bought for six years straight, month-in, month-out. It was my only mainstay, and now it’s gone. I think the comics world will be poorer without it. I can’t think of a comic I’ve enjoyed as consistently as 100 Bullets. I can’t even think of a creator who’s delivered as consistently as Azz and Risso have.

100 Bullets is The Symphony. It’s talented creators dropping in, doing some amazing work, and dropping out, leaving the track, or the genre, or the industry, or their peers, a drooling and shuddering mess. It’s Wu-Tang Forever, with RZA’s arrogant insistence at the end of Bells of War, halfway through Disc Two, that Wu-Tang Forever is so ahead of its time that “niggas ain’t gonna figure it out til the year Two-G.” It’s Raekwon on The Closing on the same record, explaining that he looks at other emcees and realizes that they’re going to stay garbage because they don’t know any better.

Azzarello and Risso’s 100 Bullets is a challenge. It’s saying, “Look, we did this. This is us. Ante up.”

I’ll be sorry to see it go. I keep thinking that I want to do this big, bang-up, blow-the-doors-off outrospective, but I don’t even know if I know where to start or if I even should. Luckily, Tucker’s got an Off the Shelf for us, and I hope to see Matthew Brady writing about it, too. I really enjoyed his Monster series, though I don’t think I ever remembered to link to it, and I know he’s a fan. I’m curious to see what kind of send-off the best comic book to come out of Time Warner will receive.

100 Bullets is 13 volumes, and pretty cheap on Amazon. You can catch each volume for around ten bucks new, less from a third-party seller. In fact, the first book’s like five bucks right now. Links below. If you haven’t started, you should. I’m not at all exaggerating when I say that it’s easily my favorite comic, and one of the most rewarding I’ve ever picked up. Click here to look at the entire 100 Bullets catalog on Amazon.

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Black History Month ’09 #28: You Can’t Stop Us Now

February 28th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

On Illmatic, Nas breaks off the intro to N.Y. State of Mind to say, “I don’t know how to start this.” There’s a pause, and with a “yo,” he goes on to kick five minutes of sublime lyrics. It’s not a studio gimmick or a punch-in. It’s real life. This little snippet of time, maybe three seconds at most, is Illmatic in miniature. It’s the biography of the young black male: simultaneously brilliant and unsure, arrogant and nervous, full of potential and lacking at the same time.

It’s a line that brings to mind Loop Hughes of 100 Bullets. Before the events of the series, he was the son of a single mother, running with faceless nobodies, and drifting through life. He had a life, but it was half of one. He was going nowhere.

Eventually, he meets his father, thanks to a nudge from Agent Graves, and that puts him on some kind of a road. He absorbs knowledge and experience from his father like a sponge. After his father dies, he learns that his father was respected a great deal by hard men, and he learns another lesson.

Over the course of the series, Loop pays attention to things and keeps learning. He’s trained in prison by a man with no conscience, and when they get out, he’s connected to more men who knew his father. As time goes on, he learns about life and killing. He’s a sponge.

Finally, toward the end of the series, he’s in a situation that is the ultimate mexican standoff. Two of the men involved have no interest in solving it any way but one. Loop sees another solution and takes it, trusting that things will align as they should. And they do. It’s another Illmatic line. “Whose world is this? The world is yours, the world is yours.”

There’s a lot that I like about Loop, and a lot that I can relate to. I know about having a single mother. I know about being aimless. I know about needing a push to reach greatness. I can identify with Loop’s rise over the course of 100 Bullets, because it resembles my own.

Illmatic’s message is, at least in part, about potential. You are sitting at the top of a hill and full of potential energy. You can either waste that energy and fall, or you can spend it and soar. The thing that I, and a lot of people like me, understand is that the potential within me is limitless. The older I get, the more I realize I can do. Everything I’ve ever decided to do, I’ve done and done well. When someone asks me “Whose world is this?” the only appropriate response is “It’s mine, it’s mine, it’s mine.”

At the same time, that arrogance only goes so far. Sometimes you have to sit back and whisper, “I don’t know how to start this.” You start out on the back foot, so you’ve got to worry about how you look to others and make sure that you’re on point. The moment you screw up, you become a statistic, a stereotype, typical, and generally just another reason for people to go “Ugh, I knew it.” There’s that little voice in the back of your head that says that you aren’t good enough, and never will be.

Once you get past that, the world is yours.

Loop’s been on my mind a lot lately, for both the reasons I mention above and the fact that 100 Bullets is about two weeks away from ending as I type. When I went to New York Comic-con, I had a chance to get a sketch from Eduardo Risso, artist of 100 Bullets. I thought about it for a moment and realized that I needed a sketch of Loop. So I got it.

Loop Hughes, by Eduardo Risso

I currently have two things on my wall. One is a page of original art from Darwyn Cooke’s New Frontier, featuring John Henry waking up from being lynched and walking off into the darkness to do what needs to be done. The other is the classic Muhammad Ali poster “First Minute, First Round,” with a triumphant Ali standing over a fallen Sonny Liston. The other is going to be this piece by Risso of Loop.

I’m very picky about what I put up on my walls. It’s got to have some special meaning to me or represent something, rather than just being a hot piece of art. Ali is the arrogance that is necessary, John Henry is about purpose and drive, and Loop is about potential.

It’s 2009. I’m 25 years old, and the world is mine.

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