This Week in Panels: Week 40

June 27th, 2010 Posted by Gavok

40 isn’t a very special number, but we got a lot on the plate this time around anyway, so let’s pretend it matters. Oh, and we also get three doses of Grant Morrison. Well… only two of them count, but whatever.

Amazing Spider-Man #635
Joe Kelly and Michael Lark among others

American Vampire #4
Scott Snyder, Rafael Albuquerque and Stephen King

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This Week in Panels: Week 38

June 13th, 2010 Posted by Gavok

Ah, what a world we live in where Booster Gold himself (well, Keith Giffen too, I guess) is the one carrying DC these days. Let’s get with the panels.

Avengers Academy #1
Christos Gage and Mike McKone

Batman #700
Grant Morrison, Tony Daniel, Frank Quitely, Scott Kolins, Andy Kubert and David Finch

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4 Elements: Heralds #1

June 8th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

Heralds #1 was written by Kathryn Immonen, drawn by Tonci Zonjic, colored by Nathan Fairbain, and lettered by Clayton Cowles. Here are four reasons why it is worth your time.

You know what I’m very fond of? Kathryn Immonen writing Patsy Walker. Immonen turned Patsy Walker (former model, ex-wife of the Son of Satan, ex-Avenger, former Queen of Boringtowne) into a fun and exciting character. She went from being a character you can slot into any story where you need a generic superhero into one that leans when she talks and swaggers when she walks. Patsy loves being a superhero. She devours life and is into what she does. Sure, blah blah power, blah blah responsibility, all of that stuff matters. Yeah, whatever. Who cares? Patsy does it because she likes doing it. And if she gets to punch some scientists? Shoot. That’s icing on a super-cake. Immonen and Patsy are killer together, like arsenic and old lace.

Variety in art is vital. Tonci Zonjic is ill. Pay attention to what everyone is wearing on this page. Emma’s in a dress and a cropped jacket. Patsy’s wearing a logo tee and red pants. Monica’s got a leather jacket and red button-up shirt. She-Hulk and Valkyrie both shop at the big & tall store, but they’re wearing different jackets. Five women, five different hairstyles. Four people in panel seven, four completely different acts and very descriptive body language.

You know the best part of this page? Patsy’s tongue and posture while she pours something that’s undoubtedly supremely alcoholic. The bitten tongue says a lot. Part of what it says is, “The rest of you artists need to step your game up and learn how to use acting in your work.”

Layouts matter more than people realize. A lot of artists approach comics like movie storyboards. Scads of horizontal panels stacked on top of each other, only breaking the format for a two-page spread. Others stick to a nine-grid like their lives depended on it, which can result in a comic that feels staccato. Neil Edwards, the guy who does fill-ins on Fantastic Four right now, never met a panel he didn’t want to tilt at a 45 degree angle for no reason at all. Brian Bendis likes doing two-page spreads of talking heads.

What Zonjic gets is that the sweet spot is somewhere in-between all of these approaches. Your panel layout counts as storytelling. Zonjic draws these big, spacious panels, with tons of background work. He does several that are page-width, he does some head-on, some overhead, and then, when things start going bed, he throws in this panel that’s set at somewhere between thirty and forty-five degrees, diagonally skewed, and from a point of view that’s about two feet higher than eye-level. To increase the effect, Nathan Fairbain colors it a sickly red tone, a color that appeared in the book only one page previous and is decidedly unnatural. And the next panel–chaos. No gutters, just Emma hulking out while a phone rings. From 0 to FUBAR in four panels. Kapow.

Exposition hurts. Immonen gives you just enough to follow along. Why? Why not. Who cares exactly what happened? If it’s relevant to the story, you’ll find out when you need to find out. If it ain’t relevant… who cares? This is how exposition should work all the time.

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Fourcast! 48: Talkin’ ‘Bout Comics

June 7th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

-Let’s talk about last week’s comics!
Batman Confidential 45. Words by Kevin Vanhook, pencils by Tom Mandrake, preview
Red Robin 13. Words by Fabian Nicieza, pencils by Marcus To, preview
Heralds 1. Words by Kathryn Immonen, pencils by Tonci Zonjic, preview
Dong Xoai, by Joe Kubert, Amazon link
-Esther doesn’t like to see Batman in anything but crime-based circumstances in Gotham, but she sure did enjoy his battle against zombies and werewolves in New Orleans in Batman Confidential.
-She also got a pleasant surprise out of Red Robin, one of the rare Bat-books where everyone gets along (mostly) and three bros just kinda hang out, broing it up on the rooftops of the city.
-David likes Heralds because Kathryn Immon rules and Tonci Zonjic rules and Franke Raye rules. It’s a no-brainer.
-He also digs Joe Kubert’s Dong Xoai, in large part because he doesn’t know exactly how to talk about it.
-6th Sense’s 4a.m. Instrumental for the theme music.
-See you, space cowboy!

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The Cipher 06/03/10

June 3rd, 2010 Posted by david brothers

It took every Marvel character to off Thanos. Get a rope, hang yourself… you’ve got less characters than a Twitter post.

I don’t have a lot of comics this week. Captain America/Black Panther marches on and Thanos Imperative gets going. Check a preview of Thanos Imperative here, and then read my Marvel Cosmic recap. Preview Cap/Panther here.

Also notable is the Kathryn Immonen/Tonci Zonjic joint Heralds. Immonen is a delight (read Hellcat, oh wait, you can’t, because it’s a DM-only trade) and Tonci Zonjic is a dope artist. It’s about the return of Frankie Raye, formerly known as Nova and the only character with a cooler name than “Moses Magnum.” I talked a little about Frankie Raye’s demise a couple years ago.

Not comics: The complete boxed set of The Wire is on sale for like 90 bucks on Amazon. I’ve got one episode left on my rewatch of The Shield, so The Wire is looking mighty tempting. Payday is tomorrow, so dare I risk it?

What comics are you buying and what’d you think of them?

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