Michael Allred’s art is completely distinct from that of the rest of the comic world. Though it would seem impossible, somehow Allred’s art both closely resembles the classic comic art of the 60s while looking completely original and unlike anything else in comics. The work of colorist, Laura Allred, contributes a big part of what makes the art in this book so great. The husband and wife team have long standing partnership and that continuity means their work supports each others styles and never clashes.
For readers who might be unfamiliar with what a colorist does, the nature of work is contained right there in the name. The colorist takes outlines from the penciller and inker and fills in the colors of the art. If this sounds like a mechanical or simple job, it absolutely isn’t. For evidence, compare the work of this book with that of the classic Vertigo comics of the early 2000s. It’s not that one is right and the other is wrong, it’s that the choices of the colorist completely change the tone and feel of the book. A muted pallet can suggest ambiguity or uncertainty; a brighter higher-contrast pallet makes a book feel more exuberant. Beyond style, there’s a simple issue of skill. Colorists can obscure the detail of the original pencils if they don’t work carefully, golden age comics often suffer from this. Read more
This is one of two Rucka books on this list. Haven’t heard a lot about this book, but since I finished Queen and Country, I pretty much try to check out everything he writes. How good is Queen and Country? You will not find a book that is better researched. It is a workplace drama that gets the details of the work dynamics perfectly.
What’s this book about? Magick maybe? African Americans? I’m not sure. I’m going in cold.
In some ways, Paper Girls is a classic Brian K. Vaughn comic. It tells a strange, unpredictable, fantasy adventure story. Paper Girls intrigues and maybe even confuses its reader by moving fast and saying little. The first issues of a long series usually have a lot of explaining to do, especially when they can’t lean on established worlds and characters. Paper Girls, however, doesn’t stop and chat. There are a number of wordless pages. There’s more showing than telling, and it’s not just a series of fights, there’s a lot to look at in the way characters dress and interact and there are images in the background that help guide the audience through the unusual world.
Comic books are a distinctive medium in that there is such a small group of fans that read them that the authors really end up speaking to a certain kind of fan. In the worst circumstances, small audiences lead derivative comics, but in the best circumstances, it means authors don’t have to hold their readers’ hands. The self-selecting group that reads comics knows to pick up the traces in the background, they can infer what happened between panels. Paper Girls rewards attention. Read more
I’ve been invited to blog for Planetizen. You can find my first post here. Much of my city planning writing will likely live there for the coming months, though this blog will live on for comic-related content, among other things. Thanks for checking in.
We Can Never Go Home
I picked up this book because I was drawn to the strange, spare covers. One in particular shows a shopping cart full of improvised weapons, and it hints at a book that balances the silly invincible feeling of being a teenager with a grim real world. We Can Never Go Home tell a story of super powers, high school in the 80s, and robbing drug dealers. It combines genres and styles. The wild story is grounded in reality by the art. Wal-marts and cheap motels look real, even when they share pages with bullets bouncing off our heroes.
We Can Never Go Home is a teen romance, adventure, superhero story by Mathew Rosenberg, Patrick Kindlon and Josh Hood. The characters are distinct, feel real, and demand your sympathy. The story elements are familiar at times, but the mix is what makes the book feel original. If you’ve ever felt like an underdog or made a mix tape, you’ll probably like this book.