It’s Wednesday again! That means another load of fresh comics to devour! Unfortunately, if you think there were slim pickings last week, my list was even shorter this week. In fact, I have just enough comics to talk about three of them. Do you think that means I’ll have less to say this time? Noooooo!
Let’s get started!
The prison cafeteria scene in Nate Cosby and Ben McCool’s PIGS #6 – I know what you’re going to say: once again, I’m about to praise writers for actually NOT writing. Indeed, in the whole three pages that this scene takes, there are no more than eight speech balloons for a grand total of only 31 words.
However, it’s easily one of the most characterization and mood-heavy scenes I’ve seen in a while. It’s all done by the actions of background characters and switching camera angles. Here’s the setup: a crime boss (name unknown – correct me if I’m wrong) is sitting in the cafeteria when his bodyguard, “Fred”, comes in. Now keep in mind Fred is covered head to toe in swastika tattoos and has just cut off a man’s foot with what looks like a dozen plastic knives – one AFTER the other.
Page 10 (7 panels)
Wide elevated shot of the cafeteria showing PRISONERS having lunch.
Wide shot of a single table with PRISONERS eating and taking every seat except one in front of the BOSS. From the right side, we can see FRED’s hands entering the panel, holding his lunch tray.
Medium shot of the BOSS seated and eating.
Inverted shot: FRED is sitting down with his tray in front of the BOSS.
Long shot from the opposite end of the table showing the PRISONERS picking up their trays and getting up. The BOSS and FRED are seated calmly at the end of the table in the background.
Same shot but now most of the prisoners have gone; the last two are getting up and leaving. The BOSS and FRED haven’t moved.
Same shot but the BOSS and FRED are now alone at the table.
Page 12 (6 panels)
Wide shot showing the BOSS’ head, cocked to the side, on the left side of the panel, with PRISONERS seated and eating in the background.
Wide shot showing FRED’s head, cocked to the side, on the right side of the panel, with nothing in the background.
Close-up of the BOSS’ glasses reflecting the pudding in FRED’s tray, the same image repeated in both lenses.
Close-up of the pudding in FRED’s tray.
Tight overshot of FRED’s hand and arm, pushing the tray towards the BOSS.
Worm’s eye view from just beside the pudding looking up to the BOSS holding a spoonful of pudding near his mouth.
BOSS: THANK YOU, FRED.
This could easily have taken the form of a long exchange between the two criminals with some exposition and witty repartee. However, Cosby and McCool chose instead to focus on the essential: the relationship between the two men and the way they come into contact with others around them. And for that, not many words were needed but wisely omitted.
By the way, I have to mention the way letterer Rus Wooton has chosen to treat Fred’s speech bubbles: all shaky, no caps at all and not a single punctuation mark. It’s the kind of voice you don’t want coming from under your bed but you just know it would sound like this if you ever heard it.
Andrea’s speech to Rick in Robert Kirkman’s THE WALKING DEAD #94 – In this latest issue, Rick’s group is finally shifting gears and have decided to try their luck at finding this other community that their prisoner “Jesus” is seemingly scouting for. As Ricks gives his final orders before departing, he has an exchange with Andrea that ends on this panel:
Now part of me immediately shot up with “Andrea’s dying next!” After all, we’ve been long overdue on Kirkman’s credo of “No one is safe.” Andrea’s one of the last few remaining members of the “old guard”. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Kirkman ramp things up on his way to his 100th issue by cutting short the existence of one of his most remarkable and enduring creations.
After all, declaring so frankly how you constantly cheat death is one of the surest ways in comics to reserve a seat on Charon’s yacht. But is this hubris at its best (worst?), an inspiring character mission statement or a rare tongue-in-cheek lampshade-hanging?
Can it be all three at once?
Only time will tell but I’m ready to wager a nice crisp Queen’s portrait that this little speech should come back to haunt us in one way or another in the following months. It’s not the best sample of foreshadowing, but it’s certainly one of the most entertaining.
I was disappointed by…
I was very saddened about a month ago when I learned that GREEN WAKE was getting cancelled after issue10 for lack of sales. To be perfectly honest, I was angry. It angered me to see something so thoughtful disappear while other publications could go on thanks to the simple rote purchasing habits of the blindly faithful.
Mostly, I was angry at the average and maybe hypothetical comic reader. The one that buys every comic with Wolverine on the cover. The one who has to own every spinoff and tie-in to an “event” that never ends. The one that only looks for premises he’s seen on TV first. The one who won’t take chances. The one who’s still stuck in his teenage power fantasies. The one who won’t hesitate shelling out four bucks for yet another polybagged mainstream title but bitches about not having any budget for creator-owned indie books with literally a dozen pages of backup material for the same price. The one who has memorized every Teen Titan roster in publication history but finds it too tedious to learn the names of unknown characters in a new mystery mini.
The main problem I think is that the average comic reader is not educated enough for the medium. I’m not talking about school education. I don’t care if you’ve got an MBA or if you flunked out of kindergarten. No, the problem is that he’s not educated enough about his options when buying comics. It’s not that there’s nothing that indie comics can offer to this reader, it’s just that getting him to learn about the alternatives means meeting him halfway – halfway of the ocean parting these two worlds. But I’m not getting into whose fault is that…
In the end, it’s all a business and publishing companies are there to make money. And so the wheel of the comic market keeps on turning and other ideas break the surface at the water’s edge.
That’s why I’m not as angry today as I was a month ago, not with the slew of new books coming for Mr. Wiebe. PETER PANZERFAUST is already off to a very respectable start, GRIM LEAPER has a premise that’s a sure-fire hit and DEBRIS, just recently announced at IMAGE EXPO, has him reunited once more with his GREEN WAKE accomplice, Riley Rossmo. So things are not completely bleak. Some projects die peacefully while others see the light of day. I just hope Wiebe’s growing exposition with these titles, his blog and his podcast are enough to better his chances at keeping afloat the sales figures wave.
I see GREEN WAKE’s early cancellation as a warning that if we don’t nurture burgeoning talent and originality on the comic market, we’re just condemning ourselves to more of the same old stories, retold, rehashed and regurgitated in redesigned costumes. That’s the real death of comics we need to be wary of, not by lack of sales, but by lack of creativity.
I think Kermit had the best words for closing: “It’s not easy being green.”