Archive for August, 2005

Concrete Vol. 1: Depths

August 29, 2005 | Trades

Concrete Vol. 1: Depths Paul Chadwick Dark Horse Books $12.95 US (Paperback) **** 1/2 (out of five) Paul Chadwick is simply one of the grandmasters of comics. Reading Depths, the first of a new series of books collecting both classic and rare tales of the award-winning Concrete series, hammers home what a terrific storyteller Chadwick is — and has been since 1986. He’s always been a sublime artist, bringing Concrete — a man’s mind in a hulking, rocky alien body — to life with his vividly detailed black-and-white art. But there’s a thoughtfulness and timelessness to these stories, focusing mainly on the premise: ‘What would I do?’ if faced with any number of situations, from being trapped in a near-impregnable body that can never feel, to being lost at sea or buried deep in the earth. While Depths is not exactly the chronological Concrete, it does give readers a good introduction to the character, including his origin story and his first meetings with several key supporting players. No trade paperback library is complete without a copy of this book.


August 29, 2005 | Comics

AEIOU Jeffrey Brown Top Shelf Productions $12 US (Paperback) **** (out of five) Jeffrey Brown has established himself as one of the finest non-mainstream comic creators around by becoming a master at telling bittersweet love stories. With books like Unlikely (how he lost his virginity) and Clumsy (a look at a long-distance love affair), Brown expertly blends self-deprecating humour while confronting his feelings about love, relationships and women. But his third semi-autobiographical tale, AEIOU — or Any Easy Intimacy — is a little more bitter than sweet. All the tender (and silly) moments are there: complete with Brown’s quaintly crude renderings of himself and his ex-girlfriend Sophia. Perhaps reflecting the more adult, serious and complex nature of his love with Sophia, Brown doesn’t shy away from the pain as much, though. He is clearly very deeply affected by the events depicted in AEIOU and that sting oozes out through the pages. All in all, AEIOU is another fine effort from Brown, but be prepared for a heavier read.

100 Bullets Vol. 8: The Hard Way

August 29, 2005 | Trades

100 Bullets: The Hard Way Brian Azzarello, Eduardo Risso Vertigo/DC Comics $19.99 (Paperback) *** 1/2 (out of five) The best part of 100 Bullets is the characters — just don’t get too attached to any of them. As the second half of this planned 100 issue series kicks off, writer Brian Azzarello and artist Eduardo Risso keep the edge on this gritty series by upping the body count. Based on the original premise of the mysterious Agent Graves showing up in people’s lives and giving them a gun and 100 untraceable bullets, along with proof of the person who wronged them, the series has evolved into a complex and gripping mix of crime and mystery. In The Hard Way, the revelations and bodies keep piling up as ex-con Wylie Times tries to sort out his sordid past in the city of New Orleans. When all is said and done, Wylie finds out the brutal truth and the cost is the life of one of the book’s central characters.

Space Ghost

August 29, 2005 | Trades

Space Ghost Joe Kelly, Ariel Olivietti DC Comics $19.99 (Paperback) ** 1/2 (out of five) Space Ghost has always been a bit of a weird character. Created in the mid-1960s as the lead in his self-titled cartoon series, he was, for lack of a better term, a super-hero. He battled a bizarre assortment of villains and had lots of wild adventures in the two years the series ran, but that wasn’t the end for Space Ghost. He came back again in the early 80s for another brief heroic go around and then again in a more unusual manner in the 90s as host of Space Ghost Coast-To-Coast, a satirical talk show on U.S. Cartoon Network. In all his incarnations, however, I doubt anyone could have envisioned using him like he appears in this comic book collection. Writer Joe Kelly actually plays his straight. He’s a badass former space cop who’s out to avenge the deaths of his wife and unborn son. This from a character who is so close to lame that he’s scraping the surface. I mean, come on: he’s got a picture of himself on the front of his uniform. Isn’t that like Gene Simmons wearing a KISS T-shirt on stage? The only thing that saves this book is the dazzling art of Ariel Olivetti and the reprinted covers of the original limited series by comic painter extraordinaire, Alex Ross.

David Finch interview (August 2005)

August 19, 2005 | Interviews

A cover to an issue of New Avengers by Canadian artist David Finch. David Finch is one of the hottest artists in comics and — yay for us! — he’s also a Canadian. In advance of his appearance at this weekend’s Canadian National Comic Book Expo in Toronto, the 33-year-old from Tecumseh, Ont., spoke with JPK about New Avengers, Moon Knight and his dream project at DC Comics. JPK: What does it mean to you to be a headliner at the Canadian National Expo? David Finch: “I think it’s great. It’s an honour and it’s great to be able to do it in Canada where I’m from.” JPK: After you wrap up your impending final arc of New Avengers you’re moving on to the much-anticipated Moon Knight six-issue limited series. What is your interpretation of Moon Knight going to be? DF: “It’s with Charlie Houston who’s a novelist and a great writer. This is his first comic project and he’s really unusual in that his stuff is perfect right out of the gate. He just knew how to do the job. “It’s a relief for me because my job is easier when I don’t have to think. A good writer means (an artist) doesn’t have to think. “He really thinks in terms of drama when he writes and it’s apparent reading his stuff. “As far as interpretation goes it’s still a little bit up in the air, but I would really like to do … well … I’d like to say Frank Miller, but my Frank Miller is more like Jim Lee on Deathblow. That’s just where my influences are. “I don’t want to do exactly Jim Lee’s Deathblow, but it’s definitely going to be a big influence. “I’d also really like to try to do a lot of what Eduardo Risso is doing with 100 Bullets “I’m really excited about it. It’s more where I feel comfortable stylistically anyway and I haven’t had a chance to do that for so long that it’s almost become a fetish for me. I’ve just been obsessing over what I would like to do if I had the chance to do that kind of a book.” JPK: Is moving onto a different book with a different feel a good chance to experiment with your art style? DF: “I’m hoping that it is. It’s been too long since I’ve done that. “Normally moving on to something different is just a different set of characters and I can’t say I’ve really changed as much as I probably should. I’m really hoping to do that this time.” JPK: So what’s on tap after Moon Knight? DF: “It looks like I’m going to do a Marvel Knights Spider-Man run. I don’t know that that’s set in stone, but that’s what it looks like right now.” JPK: Any other Marvel characters you’d like to take a stab at? DF: “One of these days it would be great to do Daredevil.” JPK: Have you drawn much Daredevil before? DF: “I’ve drawn him a little bit in Avengers actually, but in that book I’m always drawing people a quarter-of-an-inch tall, so I don’t even consider any character I’ve had a chance to draw in Avengers as much of a chance to draw him “I did get to draw him a bit in Ultimate X-Men, but that was Ultimate Daredevil.” JPK: If you could work on any character for any company, who would it be? DF: “Batman.” JPK: Why Batman? DF: “Batman lives in a mansion. He has a Batmobile. And all of his villains are great — he’s got the Joker and the whole list.” JPK: But of course you have no plans to go do Batman over at D.C.? DF: “I have absolutely no plans whatsoever. As long as Joe Quesada is editor-in-chief (at Marvel) I can’t envision leaving.” JPK: The kind of work you do is very detailed. How long does it take to draw a comic page? DF: “A page takes me — I would say on average — about seven hours. Of course that can really vary depending on what’s on the page. “A book takes about a month and I’m sure Avengers readers will laugh at that, but if I’m actually sitting down and working and doing my job the way I should be, there’s no reason it should take longer than a month. Anytime it does take me longer that a month it’s just me blowing it. “I haven’t really been even remotely proud of the work that I’ve done for quite some time. I’m really hoping to rehabilitate with Moon Knight. “It’s certainly no fault of Bendis, I just don’t think I have a grasp of this. It’s not so much that I’m enjoying it or not enjoying it, I think it’s just beyond me — beyond my skill set. “Moon Knight is just much more what I’m comfortable with so I’m really hoping to do a better job.”

Steve McNiven interview (August 2005)

August 19, 2005 | Interviews

The Thing by Canadian artist Steve McNiven. Halifax resident Steve McNiven is an artist on the rise in the comic book industry. After getting his start at CrossGen, he’s moved on to Marvel Comics where he’s worked on Marvel Knights 4 (the other Fantastic Four book), and Ultimate Secret and has now moved on to the red-hot New Avengers. Before appearing as a guest at this weekend’s Canadian National Comic Book Expo in Toronto, the 36-year-old talked about his blooming career with JPK. JPK: What does it mean to you to get high billing at the Canadian National Expo? Steve McNiven: “It’s cool. I’m surprising to think anyone would want to meet you. It’s a big honour for me. I’m just glad [writer Brian] Bendis wanted me on New Avengers — it really ups your profile.” JPK: Does it mean any more because you’ve lived in Toronto and you’re a Canadian at the Canadian Expo? SM: “I lived in Toronto on and off for nine years, including a five-year stint right before I broke into comics. I was busy practicing drawing and hanging out with other guys who wanted to break in. Pretty much all of them have actually. “It’s fun for me to come back and hang out with all those guys.” JPK: Who were your Toronto comic book compadres? SM: “J. Torres (Teen Titans Go) and Francis Manapul (Witchblade) are two guys I really hung out with and they’re both doing some incredible stuff.” JPK: So what are you working on next? SM: “I’m working on issues 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 and 21 of New Avengers.” JPK: That’s a healthy run. SM: “It’s a big run. I just finished up a four-issue arc and the next one is six issues, so that must be good *laughs* “I was originally supposed to jump onto Ultimate X-Men with (Hollywood director) Bryan Singer for a six-issue arc, but that has been moved to a summer 2006 release so I asked: ‘Can I do more Avengers?’ “It’s thrilling. Brian (Bendis) is an amazing writer.” JPK: The arc of Avengers you’re working on right now isn’t coming out until mid-2006. You must know a lot of secrets? SM: “I know everything that happens in House Of M, who the mystery Avenger is and everything. It’s pretty amazing.” JPK: You get to do a bevy of characters on New Avengers — any characters or titles you’d like to work on in the future? SM: “Spider-Man is one of my favourites and I’ve been putting the word out that I’d really like to do a run on Amazing Spider-Man at some point. Hopefully that’ll happen.” JPK: How would you define your style? SM: “My style is draw what I know and if I don’t know how to draw it — I don’t draw it. “A lot of the time I draw for colour. I’ve had the same colourist for my whole career. “A lot of guys work for contrast, for black and white with perditions of gray, but I tend to draw for the colourist. We have a really good rapport and we know what we want to get out of the art. “I’m not really as interested in how I draw something as why I’m drawing it. “I like to give each panel its moment. Some guys just choose their ‘money shot’ and then everything else is inconsequential.”

Neal Adams interview (August 2005)

August 16, 2005 | Interviews

Neal Adams has never been one to rest on his laurels. The 64-year-old comic book icon, who helped define the modern version of Batman with his groundbreaking work in the 1960s and 70s, is as busy as a man half his age. Based out of both New York City and Los Angeles, he is hard at work with his company, Continuity Studios, and has even managed to illustrate a few comic book pages for Marvel Comics recently. Ahead of his appearance as a guest of honour at the Canadian National Comic Book Expo, from Aug. 26-28 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, Adams spoke to Metro about what he’s been up to, where his future in comics is and what he thinks is the best comic ever made. JPK: So let’s talk comics. Neal Adams: “I have no interest in comics. I’m interested in science, comparative religion — anything that’ll empty a room in two minutes Any of those would probably do it.” JPK: OK, ummmmmm … So we know you’re not working primarily in comics anymore, what are you up to? NA: “We (at Continuity Studios) do what are called animatics for commercials, which are sort of cheap commercials that you use to test. We also, lately, are doing finished commercials (using CGI). “We’re doing CGI (computer generated imaging) animation for commercials, which is an extension of work that we’ve done for animatics — except it’s more finished. “We will be making ourselves available for film and television and I’m also spending my excess money *snickers* on Bucky O’Hare as a feature film.” JPK: You’re not resting on your laurels, are you? NA: “Neal doesn’t do that. “I’m pretty much at the beginning of my career, I figure.” JPK: How so? NA: “When I got into comics — and I don’t mean this in an egotistical way — they were in the stone ages. They didn’t know reproduction methods, they were printing on what amounted to toilet paper and the stories were only six pages long … so we’ve changed quite a bit what goes on in comics. “As they slowly go down the toilet we seem to be making them incredibly interesting these days “Entering comic books at that time was a little bit like roughing it. I was trained as an illustrator and I did a syndicated comic strip (Ben Casey), I did comics for advertising and I did advertising. To go backwards into comic books wasn’t as satisfying as it might have been had the technology been better. “Now the technology has gotten better and most of my time is spent doing other things. At some point I’m going to have to do some comic books just to show there still some power in the tiger’s tank.” JPK: Which leads us perfectly into the question: is there a glorious return to comics coming for Neal Adams? NA: “I don’t know that it’s going to be a glorious return but I certainly am going to do some comic work.” JPK: Do you have anything specific in mind? NA: “I’d kind of like to do a Batman thing. I’ve been talking to DC Comics about a Batman thing for a while. Or maybe it’ll be some Green Lantern/Green Arrow stuff or Green Lantern stuff. “I just did an eight-page thing for Marvel for one of their X-Men books and it was fun — but it was only eight pages. “What I try to do is give people a taste so they don’t forget me.” JPK: Do you think the deluxe reprintings of your Green Lantern/Green Arrow, Deadman and Batman stuff by DC Comics has garnered you a new generation of fans? NA: “It’s a shame that if you work and then you don’t do work in a given field then as the generations move forward you fall into the background. That is: it’s a shame for everybody else, not for me. “I think it’s very nice that DC has decided to do this because what happens is you get to see more than a year’s worth of work in one book. “The last Batman book is going to be quite a corker because we’ve redone all the colour on it.” JPK: Overall, what’s your impression of the state of comic books nowadays? NA: “I like it. I think it’s terrific.” JPK: What comics are you reading right now? NA: “Certainly The Ultimates; I read Fantastic Four; I don’t read too much Spider-Man because it’s just everywhere; I spottily read X-Men stuff, although I hate it when they go off to other dimensions and stuff — it makes me crazy; I read the Rags Morales series (Identity Crisis). I’ll read anything Jim Lee does — but the last Jim Lee story, written by that guy that does 100 Bullets (Brian Azzarello) just made me nuts. I love 100 Bullets, but hated that Superman thing.” JPK: Are there any other characters that you’ve never worked on that you’d like that chance to draw? NA: “The only character I really wanted to do was Batman. I wanted to do him because they were screwing him up — really, really treating him badly.” JPK: Any desire to return to Green Lantern/Green Arrow or Deadman — works you’re associated with? NA: “First of all, I don’t think Deadman has been done well since I did it. “If I were to do Deadman, I’d just pick up where I left off with that anguished, tortured, poor bastard.” JPK: And Green Lantern? NA: “I talked to the writer (Geoff Johns). Maybe we’ll do a couple of Green Lantern stories. “I’d kind of like to the story and then let him do the dialogue. He can even write it if the structure is there that I need because I like a certain epic quality.” JPK: Are you interested in working with any specific writers or would you prefer to pen your own material? NA: “I am interested in certain other writers — Jeph Loeb, for example, is a really good writer. “I kind like that guy that does Buffy (Joss Whedon) JPK: You’re probably best known for your Batman work. Is that your favourite piece of your work? NA: “My favourite piece is Superman/Muhammad Ali. I think that’s probably the ...

Invincible: The Ultimate Collection Vol. 1

August 8, 2005 | Trades

Invincible: The Ultimate Collection Vol. 1 Robert Kirkman, Cory Walker, Ryan Ottley Image Comics $34.95 US (Hardcover) **** 1/2 (out of five) Words like absolute and ultimate are getting thrown around an awful lot in the comic book industry lately — often on things that aren’t always worthy. So Image Comics’ release of the Ultimate Collection of their cult-hit superhero series Invincible could be met with suspicion. But after reading this sizable compendium of the first 13 issues of the adventures of teen hero Mark Grayson, the words consummate, ideal and supreme can also be fine descriptions. On top of being a top-class reprinting of a hot series — a near-perfect blend of teen-angst comedy and pithy superhero action — this volume offers more extras than the best DVD box set, with concept sketches, scripts, original pitch material and commentary by writer Robert Kirkman. This book is practically an essential.

Y: The Last Man Vol. 5 — Ring of Truth

August 8, 2005 | Trades

Y: The Last Man Vol. 5 — Ring Of Truth Brian K. Vaughan, Pia Guerra, Vertigo/DC Comics $19.99 (Paperback) **** (out of five) The great mystery of the last man on earth is solved. For over two years, comic fans have eagerly followed the adventures of Yorick Brown — the last man alive on earth after a deadly illness killed everyone else. Along with his pet monkey Ampersand and his companions, Dr. Allison Mann and the mysterious Agent 355, he has been trying to travel from New York City to the Australian outback to find his girlfriend, while Mann tries to figure out why he along survived. Ring Of Truth, the fifth collection of Y: The Last Man by writer Brian K. Vaughan and B.C. artist Pia Guerra, finally sheds light on what saved Yorick’s life, and without giving away too much — it’s a crappy answer. Vaughan and Guerra continue to unfold one of the most engrossing and thoughtfully constructed comic stories around and will have you clamouring for the next collection of Y.

Freaks Of The Heartland

August 8, 2005 | Trades

Freaks Of The Heartland Steve Niles, Greg Ruth Dark Horse Books $17.95 US (Paperback) **** (out of five) Steve Niles is very quickly becoming the go-to guy for the best in horror comics. With sleeper hits like 30 Days Of Night and Criminal Macabre under his belt (both of which are being developed into feature films), Niles has shown a flair for getting inside the nature of fear. This skill is taken to a more chilling level than ever with Freaks Of The Heartland, a story of a group of, well, freaks, who make a bold dash for freedom after years of oppression and cruelty — at the hands of their parents. The central duo of this collection is Trevor, a seemingly average little boy, and Will, his monstrously deformed, but kind-hearted little brother. The interplay between the two is touching and wrought with the kind of emotion sadly uncommon to horror. It’s like Of Mice And Men — but with freaks. Taking this book to an even higher level is the breathtaking art of Greg Ruth, whose lush, detailed art and moody colouring serves to greatly heighten the emotion of this moving story.