The Cipher 05/11/11: The Adventures of Bomb Freak and Gun Nut

May 11th, 2011 by | Tags: , , ,


Buy these digital comics! Read this digital news! Do as I say!

Khari Evans’s work on Carbon Grey is pretty neat

Here is the only list you need to read of the top 25 comics movies, imoo (in my objective opinion).


-Been thinking a lot about what comics can’t do lately. There are some things that require something more than comics can give–silence, for example.

-Silence is the absence of sound. It’s tough to portray silence in comics. It’s not the same as wordlessness, not really. If you’ve ever seen a scene in a movie where the music drops out and every word hits like a hammer to the skull–that’s so powerful thanks to silence. It dials your attention down to a single point. It turns “It tastes like you but sweeter!” from a mean diss into a gunshot.

-Car chases, too. You can do them in comics, sure, but I don’t think you can top what you’d see in Bullitt or Dirty Harry. Car chases need motion, the blur of scenery, and jockeying for position. They need squeals. It never feels right in comics. Kenichi Sonoda’s Gunsmith Cats had some good car chase bits, but the most memorable one took place on an empty highway.

-Foot chases in comics, though? Those are great. Frank Miller on Daredevil, for example. Comics made rooftops magical. I got mad when I grew up and found out how hard it was to get to the roof of buildings.

-Slow walks toward the camera always look corny in comics, too. You can do the slow stroll, but you can’t do it head-on.

-What am I forgetting? Have there been good chases in comics?

-Speaking of Gunsmith Cats, here’s a bit I like from the first volume, which involves something like a car chase:

-One thing Sonoda seems to understand is how limited comics are when it comes to car chases. He always adds some sauce, whether it’s a three-way race, gun battles, or civilians getting in the way. In a later volume, Rally and Bean are faced with the choice of pasting a dude on the highway or wrecking. Instead, they share a glance, jerk their wheels toward each other, and lock their tires, causing their cars to set up on two wheels each in an arc over the dude.

-This bit, though, is really good, underage panties aside. This is how you put a proper chase scene in comics. Sonoda binged on making the cars real and showing progressive damage. The big impact panel features the side mirror on the Lotus breaking off and flying across their windshield. The Mercedes grille is flawless.

-Slipping the girl through the car’s doors is clever, too. It’s the sort of thing Spider-Man should be doing all the time. I’ve seen a couple similar things in movies, like this bit from the otherwise aight Red:

-You have a limitation: motion is limited in comics and sound is portrayed differently. Your goal: how do you surpass the limitations?

-Comics/cartoons crossover: I’ve been watching old episodes of Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball. I’ve only seen a little of the show, though I own the whole manga. I’d forgotten how Dr. Slump-y it got. Poop jokes, dick jokes, boob jokes… it’s got everything I love. I knew there was a reason I liked it more than DBZ.

-Anyway, the cartoon does something I thought was interesting. Whenever something explodes, the cloud of dust has a “BOM!” sound effect over it. There are a couple others that are used, some in Japanese, some in English, but it’s so interesting to see comics transplanted directly to film like that.

-It makes the show feel very kiddy, if I can say that without having to get all “pow! zoom!” It’s the font they use and the way it appears. It’s very fun, very friendly.

-Another bit from GSC that I liked, though not for any formal reasons.

-I like how much attention Sonoda pays to Rally loading the gun in that first tier of panels. It’s quietly menacing. 2.1 is great, too, with those speed lines Sonoda just throws onto Rally’s arms. The pose and the motion are all good. You can instantly recognize what she just did, and he flips it again for 3.3.

-I really, really enjoy seeing how comics artists solve things like this. How do you show someone spinning a cylinder? Show the thumb and then a blur? Focus on the cylinder? Cheat and draw it all static? Afterimages?

-That lettering is pretty good, too.

This behind the scenes post on Dark Horse’s branding is good.

-This pic is insanely good. I found it on a tumblr that is wild nsfw, but has some really great pictures, including what I thought was a really classy ’70s nude girl but turned out to be from the ’90s. It came from FreshJive.

-Smoking is one of my favorite things in media. It looks unbelievably cool, and in the hands of a proper actor and director, can really enhance a scene. Ladies with cigarette holders breathing clouds into the air while dismissing would-be suitors, thugs lurking in alleys with just the tip of their noses lit by the cigarette, or dudes in an apartment, making murder plans in clouds of smoke… yeah, I love all that.

-Smoking is great for pacing a conversation, too, and it works just as well, if not better, in comics.

-I got like four or five new albums yesterday, but those’ll have to wait. I haven’t had a chance to dig into them just yet, beyond Tyler, the Creator’s Goblin. Expect a big music post, maybe? I like buying music, so probably, yes.

-Oh yeah, I mentioned a Frank Miller piece I couldn’t find last week. Quote:

-There’s this piece Miller did of Miho for some magazine or another. It’s in The Art of Sin City, at any rate. It’s sparse, hardly any details but Miho’s face and pubic hair. It sounds perverted, but it really doesn’t come off like that way. It’s sexy, but not like… gross.

-Turns out I had it sitting on my computer the entire time in my big folder full of Frank Miller Stuff. Click here to see it, but keep in mind that it’s probably nsfw, depending on how your job feels about negative space boobs. It’s from Tripwire apparently. No idea which issue.


David: hates comics this week
Esther: Mais oui! Batgirl 21/ Oui: Birds of Prey 12. Est Possible: Doc Savage 14 (I like the crocodile on the cover.)
Gavin: Batman Incorporated 6, FF 3, Incredible Hulks 628, New Avengers 12, Punisher MAX 12

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5 comments to “The Cipher 05/11/11: The Adventures of Bomb Freak and Gun Nut”

  1. when going through your top 25 list i was thinking “better have ninja turtles” and i was really surprised you put it so high on the list! most people seem to have forgotten it. i’m gonna nerd it up for a minute, though: the pic you used is from the second one, Secret of the Ooze. 😉

    i like your thoughts on limitations in comics. i think about these things a lot, too, being a comics artist. and the car chase/action stuff is particularly a big thing, being a comics artist who blows at most action sequences. XD

    some stuff i struggle with in comics are other really simple things that are done easily in film, like a zoom in, kinda going back to your recent post about the i think Lone Wolf fast-zoom in the digital version of the comic, or a character purposely changing their voice like if they’re doing an impression of someone else in a “dumb” voice or doing high-pitched baby talk or something; you can sort of indicate different voices with fonts or word balloon shapes but it’s not really the same.

    i think you can kind of simulate real silence in comics to some extent, especially if you can sustain wordlessness for a few to several pages. then when you bring either a sound effect or dialogue back in all of a sudden it makes it a bigger deal.

    maybe the most obscure thing i struggle with in comics is a simple “no” headshake or a nod. they’re such simple gestures that take 1 second to perform and which nobody ever thinks about, in film the actor can just do it and in prose you can write “she nodded” or whatever, but in comics you either have to do it in one panel with clunky, awkward motion lines or cartoony dopey after images or something which would totally ruin it if it’s a serious scene, or some kind of multiple panel nod sequence which would just look stupid.

  2. Late night youtube vortex. Watching this clip from Eyes Wide Shut and I thought about this ‘can’t do in comics post’ Thought this was a good example of that:


    There’s a lack of anything other than footfalls and some street noise. But for the most part it’s cutting and piano in a weird rhythm that I don’t think could be recreated effectively in comics. You’d need to do it over several pages to stretch out the tension (or if you’re reaaallly good in some carefully chosen moments) I’m sure there’s a way to do it and get a similar effect…hmmm

  3. @Morgan Jeske: I still haven’t gotten to EWS yet (probably this weekend), but that scene is really good. It’s all atmosphere and implied menace.

    I read this novel a while back, Charlie Huston’s The Shotgun Rule. Every other chapter (I think, it’s been a while. Certain chapters, at least) took place with the usual cast, but at an unidentified point in time. As the book went on, maybe halfway through or a little less, it suddenly becomes clear that the chapters take place a little into the future, after everything for the crew of boys has gone entirely south. Then you go back to a prior time for another few dozen pages, then another glimpse. It slowly builds the tension up to a positively absurd level. It doesn’t even really hit you until partway through, and then it’s just… where is this going? how does this end? The end of every chapter was menacing.

    I think you could do that in comics. Simonson’s Surtur interludes on Thor, for example. It doesn’t happen too often, though, I don’t think.

    @ross: I like how nods come off in manga. One panel, a few motion lines, and a tiny word balloon. Eiichiro Oda is pretty good with them, but you’re right. They tend to be pretty awkward overall.

    And man, TMNT is seriously great. There’s pictures of me getting the VHS for my birthday and the biggest 😀 on my face.

  4. @david brothers: Oh man, I read Huston’s Sleepless recently, and it was incredible. Can’t wait to dive into more of his work.

  5. They got that smoking multi-panel off of a Benes page… you knew that, right? You liked it? :rolleyes: