Category: Mechanics of Storytelling

Somewhere Around The Number Ten Best Comics That Nobody Told You About

Part 1:

I love Chris Ware. Bit redundant to say so this holiday season with everyone and their sister buying Building Stories, but with so much comic awesomeness that happened in 2012; between Charles Burn’s second installment to his X’ed Out trilogy, The Hive, and Brian K. Vaughn’s SagaSAGA… It’s too easy for amazing comics to get lost in the stacks, so I’m here to give my somewhere around the number 10 best comics of 2012 that nobody told you about…


Michael DeForge might be the most prolific cartoonist working right now. He pumps more work and at a higher quality that would make any other cartoonist want to quit, or work harder… quit thats the correct response. On top of Lose #4 this year you can also see his work in the pages of Adventure Time comics, where he does the backgrounds,variant covers, anthology stories in  Nobrow 7 (more on that in a bit) and the newest  KUS, not to mention his on going serial Ant Comics, oh and his porn comic that he designs that features work by Johnny Negron, Brandon Graham, and Jillian Tamaki….more on all of them latter too…Bottom line, DeForge has a hand in everything and you’re probably a fan of his already, so read Lose, or Ant comics, or KUS, or Nobrow, or one of the million other things he worked on this year. King of comics 2012 goes to DeForge, no contest.

The Underwater Welder

Did I mention that DeForge is Canadian? Canadians….must be a universal sigh when cartoonist’s who aren’t Canadian talk about them. Jeff Lemire is another cartoonist hailing from The Great White North. Lemire had a full year of releases with Sweet Tooth Volume 4 and 5, the reprinting of his Xeric grant book Lost Dogs and Underwater Welder. Underwater Welder is for lovers of well paced, clear story telling, and the Twilight Zone. Lemire has an economy to his comics, the art is quick yet purposeful in the same manner as the writing, which rewards the reader with a world that they can envelope themselves in. Lemire is an odd school of cartooning, he’s not so deep into independent styled comics as DeForge, but he isn’t mainstream either (though he does write the only two books at DC still worth reading Animal Man, & Frankenstein Agent of Shade ). He’s a cartoonist in love with genre but doesn’t mistake comics to be only that.

Nipper Volume 3

Nipper Volume 3 finally came out! WOOOOOOO! I might be the only American to love Nipper so go buy it and prove my gross presumption wrong. Keeping in theme with brilliant Canadian cartoonists, Nipper volume 3 is the Canadian version of Family Circus, if Family Circus was anything like a real family and not so adorable that even your grandmother finds it lame. Always silent, black and white line work with one beautiful saturation of red dropped into each panel, Doug Wright creates multi-layered story telling, in the most simple yet still incredible complicated drawing. Just go look already, and then come meet me for coffee to talk about it, I’ll be here till next year trying to describe why it’s so effffffing smart.

Diary Comics 4

Dustin Harbin is yet another broken hearted cartoonist, upset that his nationality isn’t Canadian. Diary Comics 4 starts with Dustin talking about how amazing it is to be in attendance at the Doug Wright rewards (the Canadian version of the Eisners), and how he wishes we as American could take comics as seriously as they do. Why can’t we folks? Dustin’s beautifully minimalist drawings deceive readers with their simplicity, when they are really just the right amount of information needed, each mark done with purpose in mind and simply decroative. Go read em’ they’re good. And if your not a fan of memoir, you just like the punching and kicking comics, he did letter Casanova sooo…..I don’t know Matt Fraction wrote Iron Man for like a century right? See the full picture of creators not just the characters you like….

Pope Hat #3

Pope Hat #3 by Ethan Rilly. Rilly is surprise surprise, another Canadian. Pope Hats is technically 3 issues deep but you really only need/want two and three. In Pope Hats Rilly tells the story of Franny, a young law clerk at a massive law firm, picture Wall Street with less Charlie Sheen….okay no Charlie Sheen, just that one part where he gets punched in the face by Michael Douglas… Rilly drawings show traces of his influences but they don’t unhinge the story. You can see traces of Doug Wright’s drapery in the clothing, and bits of Shultz popping up in the rendering of grass and clouds. It’s like a love letter to days past when cartooning was a profession and getting a weekly strip in a newspaper was the dream. Pope Hats narrative shares a similar tone of nostalgia with its drawing, that bitter sweet pain, from an old wound.

Thats the end of Part 1. Part 2 on Sunday 12/23/12.

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Breaking Into the House

How does one break into the House of Ideas?  Well, this week the landlord’s gonna show you how.


Breaking Into Comics the Marvel Way is many things:

  • A two-part (56 pgs each) showcase-cum-audition for newly recruited  artists.
  • An anthology featuring some of Marvel’s most prolific and high profile writers (Brian Michael Bendis, Marc Guggenheim, Peter David, Stuart Moore, Jonathan Hickman, etc.).
  • A guide by Marvel editor, writer and talent scout as to how these newbs got their work seen and why their stuff is worthy of publication.

I dig this idea immensely.  Inaugural gigs for potentially professional pencillers/inkers/painters are traditionally the worst assignments imaginable, and the chance of breaking out- let alone being seen by anyone other than your editor and your doting mother- are minimal at best.

This project turns that tradition on its ass.  “Sure I’ll give you a shot, kid. I need a fill-in artist on a two-page backup story in Cloak and Dagger Annual #15… Nah. I think I’ll team you up with Jonathan Hickman in this other thing I got.”  What a fantastic opportunity!  Here’s hoping the rookies knock it out of the park.

What’s more is the comic includes step by step submission information, and a sample script for the aspiring professional to manipulate the Marvel way.

Anyone remember the Marvel Try-Out book?

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The Levitz Paradigm featuring DEADPOOL: MERC WITH A MOUTH.


Previously, I wrote about The Levitz Paradigm and how its contributed to the way comics are done today.  So, to give you an example of how that works we’re going to examine a book, and considering my Deadpool obsession, (that’s been curbed for a while now) I’m going to take the opportunity to talk about Deadpool: Merc with a Mouth.

To recap, the Levitz Paradigm works in stages.  It can be laid down in a grid, primarily it works best in a mini-series.  In this sense its kind of like working on the Stair Master.  Plot A is the immediate conflict, Plot B functions as a sub-plot, Plot C and D are the sub-sub plots. Each gets promoted as one is resolved.  Here’s how it works with regards to the first two issues of Victor Gischler’s HILARIOUS and over-the-top book. Because Deadpool should be over the top.

So here goes Issue #1, warning, SPOILERS n00bs, and don’t expect this to be a summary of point by point of the issue. The issue is not presented in this manner: Plot A: Deadpool is hired by A.I.M to recover a weapon from the Savage Land.  Plot B: Is the big reveal that the weapon that A.I.M wants Deadpool to obtain is the head of Zombie Deadpool from the Zombie Marvel Universe (Universe 666, I guess? I don’t know. I don’t read those Zombie books).  Plot C: Deadpool encounters his A.I.M. contact, Dr. Betty Swanson and subsequently falls in love with her.  Plot D: Is Deadpool encountering Ka-Zar who warns him of Hydra agents, and wanders in and out.  He’s around for two pages.

At the end of Issue 1, Plot A is resolved as Deadpool obtains the weapon which is the disembodied head of the Zombie version of himself.  Plot B becomes Plot A in the  second issue as everyone comes after him in the second issue because the Cavemen worship the Zombie Head. Plot C is promoted to Plot B as the Betty Swanson plotline who guides Deadpool through the jungle and the ensuing battle with the Cavemen. Plot C is Hydra gets Deadpool and Betty betrays him to save her own skin.  The Zombie head gets left behind and Ka-Zar (Plot D) resolves to do something.

So, one can imagine what will happen in the third issue (out tomorrow) we can imagine that the plot that moves up is Betty Swanson’s betrayal and Deadpool’s capture by Hydra and how they deal with that.

So there you have it.  Questions? Comments? Bueller…Bueller…?

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