Linked entirely upon the basis of a sharp but quite limited color palette, urgent present-day scenarios and anxiety-inducing memories come through with cinematic vibrancy for Babble, a graphic novel that UK comics publisher Com.X issued stateside in January of 2013. Artist Bryan Coyle’s pinpoint line work frames an array of fiery mustard yellows that are countered by slight variations of powder blue for the book’s strategically divided aesthetic. Even as Babble‘s tale of dead languages and stories that date back thousands of years is weird and somewhat complicated, it’s a hook that warrants a slow read, if only for the comic’s striking appearance.
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It’s maybe an hour before I finally read the words. Art Baltazar’s and Franco’s panel breakdowns, character postures, gestures, framing, color, focal length, outcroppings, photoshopping-in of real-life objects all build a visual narrative that is beautiful, flawless, perfect. And when I finally do read the words, the story is even more perfect. I want to remain lost in this moment. Page 10 of the final issue of Tiny Titans is one of the Great Safe Places of comics, and there’s no reason to leave. Ever. But all good things…
How strange is it, that it would be Sam Peckinpah to articulate this moment?
Right at the end of The Wild Bunch there’s a moment that has absolutely no place in that movie. The Bunch have met up again, they’ve holed up in some anonymous house, but they encounter each other changed men. One look in their eyes and you know, individually, they’ve each committed themselves to rescuing Angel, held prisoner by the Mexican General, the movie’s chief villain.
It’s a flawless, near silent cinematic moment. The camera sweeps across the room. Each of The Bunch know with a certainty that the tensions between them will never be resolved. There’ll never be restitution. And yet, with an equal certainty, each one of them is now, uncharacteristically, committed to this greater thing of rescuing Angel.
Writing a contemporary Superman comic heavily featuring Bizarro is no easy task. After first appearing in the pages of Superboy in 1958 and later in Action Comics in 1959, Bizarro has popped up in the DCU frequently with his trademark backward “S”, Frankenstein’s monster appearance, and muddled, broken speech.
More than anything, Bizarro’s hokey manner of speaking—Me am Bizarro. Me say opposite of everything—makes it painfully difficult to actually read a comic with Bizarro for more than a few pages. As a reader, the shtick wore thin pretty fast, a semi-novel concept quickly dissolving to schoolyard antics on “backwards day”. Anyone else get tired of Backwards Day in elementary school? (“I like you” is funny for 7 year olds because it means “I don’t like you”.)
Paul Pope’s THB is one girl’s sprawling and surreal journey across planets as running from bug-faced monsters with the aid of her protector, THB, a molecule that transforms into a giant “super-mek” when activated with water. What’s particularly perfect about the THB series, and Pope’s work in general—which he has been self-releasing in creative blitzes since 1995—is how he manages to integrate aesthetic elements from Asian, European, and American graphic genres and end up with a wholly original style that, despite its English language narrative, is very cross-cultural.