Friday, May 2, 2008

Comics: Art versus Action

Do you like fight scenes? I do, and Ted May's Injury Comics 2 has some of my favorites.

What makes the comic so unusual is the way it combines what could be considered a staple of art comics—autobiography—and a staple of mainstream comics—the fantasy action/adventure story. Jeff Wilson and May scripted the first of the comic’s two stories, “Hair of the Dog,” a tale of metal-heads, stoners, carnies, and failed romance based on Wilson’s teenage years during the 1980s and drawn by May, who wrote and provided layouts for the second story “Your Bleeding Face,” with finished art by Jason Robards. Continued from Injury 1, it features a cyborg named Manleau who takes on a gang of punks known as The Barnyard Animals. As Manleau and the Farmer brawl, the cyborg breaks out a number of his patented moves (at least I assume they are patented; they have names . . .):

The story has a lot of great pages like the one above; there’s a real interest here in creating layouts that change as the story moves from dialogue/conversations to action. Those who are interested in intelligent but not overly-clever layouts will find a lot to look at. The sci-fi inflected Manleau story is not a parody of or a self-conscious commentary on mainstream comics, but rather a straight-up action story done with a genuinely humorous approach (with many great jokes and puns) that I rarely see in Marvel and DC comics. I don’t want to spoil too much of the goodness, but here’s a tease of a panel plus a little extra that continues in the fight mode:

This story works well in the stapled comic book in part because it’s the type of ‘tale’ we have associated with this format since the 1960s. Also in that spirit, May’s information page reads a little a Stan Lee “Soapbox,” with funny descriptions of the stories and invitations for readers to write in with comments and to participate in a fill-in-the-word-balloon contest. And the back cover has a Kirby-flavored full-color drawing:

Yet, it would be wrong to think of this comic as a nostalgic throw-back; and “The Hair of the Dog” is certainly nothing like a Marvel story:
[Well, maybe Gobbie's "metal-sense," which tingles when the dudes crank up Witchfinder, is Marvel-esque.]

And, for no particular reason other than I like it, here's a great series of expressions from "Your Bleeding Face," especially the one on the Veronica-inspired character Pig:

The comic contains over 40 pages of story in crisp black and white, beautiful color covers, and no ads. A more detailed preview can (and should) be checked out here. It’s refreshing to read a comic whose only pretense is to entertainment and yet is so intelligently done that it encourages re-reading rather than a trip to the long-box to file it away.

[Disclaimer: I was involved in a small way with the production of this comic--so that makes this post not a ‘review’ as much as a little ‘boosterism’ for a comic I really like.]


Anonymous said...

Amazing inking there!

Love Ted´s Neruda. But this looks even better.

Will look out for this one.


Anonymous said...

The best word for Ted's comics is "fun". You nailed it on the head when you said that these stories were funny but not self-conscious or parodies. I also like the one-page Heracles gag strips, where the Heracles brothers are now background characters for the goings-on in the coffee bar. Great stuff. I just posted a review of it up on this morning.

--Rob Clough

online zenegra said...

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