Reviews

Art Works Hard For Its Money: The Art of BOOM! Studios

128,000 Words: Art Of BOOM! Studios' book designer Brian Latimer tells a story about BOOM! Studios that goes beyond the paradigm of money versus art.

You're going to want to read it, but there's nothing to read. These artworks will inspire a deep and irrevocable sense of needing to immerse yourself these stories, these profound fictions that lavishly decorate these pages. But really, the haunting thing about The Art of BOOM! Studios is Stan Lee's Foreword…


The Art of BOOM! Studios

Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Length: 128 pages
Writer: Brian Latimer (book designer)
Price: $19.95
Publication Date: 2011-02
Amazon

The first thing to notice about this magnificent edition (and it is magnificent, it will rest on your coffee table evoking that moment in the Lion King where Simba is shown the kingdom…"Everywhere the light touches...") is how easily it slots into your environment. The Art of BOOM! Studios isn't a reference book for the shelf. It doesn't slide off from a bookcase made of metal and glass in a sleek, ergonomic, Scandinavian design.

The Art of BOOM! Studios is that other thing entirely. It sits on that very small rack of cookbooks in your kitchen. It's right at the top of the very neat pile of books we're on your writing desk. It's kept in a drawer if you work in fashion, or in journalism, or in design or in architecture because it's inspirational. This book, more than anything else, is all about the portability of comics culture.

In its pages you won't simply find covers and panels culled brutally from their original context in the comicbooks they first appeared. The Art of BOOM! Studios handles its artwork with care, it's work and thought in presentation is love made visible. The pages you find are themselves montaged for maximum effect. They're split into genre. At first you'll want to read these stories, but there's nothing to read. Then it becomes apparent...The Art of BOOM! Studios is itself a story. The story of a publishing company. Brian Latimer, the book's designer, has taken these artworks and made of them individual statements. He's arranged them in a particular sequence. And the work is certainly appreciated. The story Latimer is busy telling is certainly a powerful one.

But beyond the pure opulent indulgence of the book itself, certain questions need to be asked. For example, is the volume entirely an exercise in Shock and Awe?

The wonder is itself almost palpable, and just reading it you'll long for immersion in the stories themselves. The artworks are treated with care and presented in a unique way. But the book contains no reference guide to the contributing artists. So The Art of BOOM! Studios at first blush seems less about signaling the artists and more about establishing the BOOM! brand. So, crassly then, the decision begins to feel a lot like money, rather than art.

But is this necessarily a bad thing?

The crux of the matter here is Stan Lee's Foreword to the project. "Ever since I got connected with the indescribably talented gang at BOOM!," Lee writes after opening with his trademark "Hi, True Believers", "I began to feel like a time traveler! It was as though our relationship had brought me back to those great days, so many years ago, when I was lucky enough to be part of perhaps the greatest bullpen of all..."

Lee's use of his signature phrase "True Believers" makes all the difference.

Pragmatists will agree with the move made by Image founders in the early '90s in breaking out on their own. They will argue that these creators, these writers and artists, are invested in defining the core of the company (its characters, its worlds, its setting) for what may come to be generationally relevant. They will argue that, because of this, these creators need not only to be rewarded for their work, but need also to share in the wealth that will shortly come.

Each of us knows this story well. We can rehearse it at moment's notice. The idea that whole generations of comicbook storytellers, writers and artists alike, have in fact simply been written out of the due rewards.

But there's Stan the Man's "True Believers". And it just changes everything. Comics was always about the ideas succeeding. About the transformative elements in the stories themselves. The notion that for a teenage spider-hero, powers may only serve to complicate ordinary high school dilemmas. That for a blind attorney, justice may only be found wearing a devil costume.

The '90s era thinking, while absolutely necessary at the time, serves only to entrench the idea that comics is about money versus art. But has BOOM! Studios' Brian Latimer found a way to elevate the debate? I think he has.

Not only has a legend identifying the artists involved been omitted, but also a list of the properties themselves have been omitted. Which means not only will you not recognize Todd Herman's artwork, you also wouldn't realize that what you're looking at is Herman's work on Galveston. So what happens when the names of both artist and artwork are omitted?

Something profound.

The Art of BOOM! Studios then becomes an invitation to pick up a copy of a BOOM! comicbook and to live in its world. And with that, the relationship between art and money suddenly doesn't seem so adversarial.

10

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image