Welcome to 'Comic Book Wednesdays'! As some of you may know, Wednesday is the day that new comic books come out. When I wrote my 5 Comics You Should Read article, a lot of you expressed interest in me writing/recommending more. So, I thought it would be a good idea to start up a weekly column where I discuss comics topics- everything from authors, to issues in the industry, to recommendations.
Today, I'm going to talk about two ongoing projects I believe are worth checking out, but please tell me in the comments what you guys would want to read more of! I look forward to hearing your ideas!
So, as I said, today I want to talk about two books, both are creator-owned ongoing series. Both feature female main characters, and both have female creators working on the book. As always, if you're interested in picking up these books, please visit your Local Comic Shop before ordering from a site like Amazon. Not sure where your LCS is? There's a locator available here.
The first is Mind the Gap (words by Jim McCann, pencils by Rodin Esquejo, colors by Sonia Oback)
Mind the Gap is the story of Ellis ('Elle') Peterson, who isn't having a very good day. She was attacked on the subway platform, has fallen into a coma, and is currently conscious in a place called 'The Gap' which is full of other people in comas waiting to move on to the next life. Oh, and she has absolutely no memory of what happened to her and barely any memories regarding her life.
We never actually see Elle getting attacked. The first page is Elle's best friend and co-worker Jo waking up to a phone call from Elle, only all Jo can hear is heavy labored breathing, indicating that something is clearly wrong. The next few pages we see how various people (family and friends) are reacting to the news that Elle is in the hospital. Everyone is calling it an accident, but McCann quickly erases that possibility by showing us a figure, face obscured by a hoodie, speaking on the phone with someone saying "It's done." The person on the phone responds with: "This has now been set into motion. There is no turning back."
That's one of the real beauties of Jim McCann's writing, he always manages to find a way to hint at something without giving away the answer. Throughout this book, there are moments that make you struggle (in a good way) as you try to figure out why this all happened, what the back story is, and who the hell is behind it all. The tagline of the book is "Everyone is a suspect, no one is innocent" and that seems to be quite true. There doesn't appear to be any obvious bad guy, and when you think there is, McCann often reveals it to have been a bait-and-switch the whole time.
I apologize if anyone finds my description sort of vague, but part of the pleasure of this book is letting the mystery unravel, and with McCann's excellent pacing and plotting it would be a shame to ruin it for all of you. McCann is a solid writer. I'm super jealous of his ability to establish who a character is right away. But before you all get bored and wander away, I want to talk about the art.
Half of the appeal of this book is the art, because it is incredibly gorgeous. Esquejo is a great penciller. He always finds a way to make the panels and pages dynamic, which is impressive considering the majority of this book is people sitting around talking. His details are wonderful. However, as good as he is, I think the real art star in this book is the colorist Sonia Oback.
I don't usually go too out of my way to mention colorists, but Oback is a superstar. Thanks to her, the entire book looks like the cover. She has an amazing grasp of how light works (not just what shadows it casts, but what colors it reflects off the skin). Rather than color/highlight shadows on skin with just lighter and darker shades of the base skin tone (like many comics artists do), Oback uses purples, and yellows, and reds, and blues. Back when I was studying color theory/painting it got drilled into my head that the world is made up of different colors, not just the ones that are easiest for our brain to comprehend. This is clearly a lesson Oback took to heart, and it makes her work outstanding.
The art and the writing combine to create a fantastic book, one I certainly hope you pick up. The first volume is only $9.99 (a price Image Comics loves to use for their first volumes, they know how to get you!). The second volume was released today.
The second book I'd like to talk with you about is Killjoys (words by Gerard Way and Shaun Simon, art by Becky Cloonan).
Some of you might be My Chemical Romance fans, and, unlike me, may have been aware that there was an album out called 'Danger Days' which was centered around a group of superheroes called The Killjoys. Apparently, this comic was originally meant to be a companion piece to the album, but over time Gerard Way decided to make it a stand alone thing. I didn't know any of this when I picked up the book. I just knew that I loved Becky Cloonan, and that Gerard Way had proved he had some comic writing chops when he wrote Umbrella Academy.
So, I'm really glad that this was turned into a stand alone thing that non-MCR fans could enjoy, because the truth is, I enjoyed the hell out of this book. The story is set in a fictional town called Battery City, which was once protected by a group of heroes called the Killjoys locked in a battle between a mysterious company who wanted to take over the city. Somewhere in this fight, the Killjoys found a little girl, who they believed to be so important that it was worth protecting her at any cost. They all died protecting her. Fast forward ten years, the girl is sixteen (currently her name is unknown), Better Living Industries has control over the city, and groups of teenagers and 20-somethings wander the desert wearing masks and trying to emulate the Killjoys. The Girl runs into one of these groups, and chaos begins to ensue.
It's always hard to say where the writing is going to go with a first issue (for those who don't know, this is not a collected series like Mind the Gap yet, but merely an individual comic book), but I like the world, and I like the pacing. It may get lost in itself, it may not, but I'll certainly keep reading. However, the real reason I picked up this book and I'm sticking with it is Becky Cloonan's art.
Becky Cloonan is one of the best artists working in the industry, period, not just one of the best female artists. Her style is unique, and while it can seem rather cartoony on the surface, once you're caught up in it all you see is her mastery of kinetic motion and expression. The Girl doesn't speak much in the first issue of Killjoys, but you still get a really good idea of who her character is from how Cloonan draws her. She's still a kid, but everyone thinks she's really special, when all she wants is to just survive. She had a group of people who protected and loved her once, but now they're gone, and she just misses them. Thanks to Cloonan, I'm not just interested in this character, I care about her.
Killjoys #1 ($3.99) came out last week, so it should still be easy to find in your Local Comic Shop. The publisher, Dark Horse Comics, is billing it as a monthly, with the next issue slated to come out July 10th. Keep in mind, single issue release dates are notorious for being changed/delayed, so if you like the series but aren't sure if the next issue will be out on time, call your LCS on July 10 or ask about setting up a pull list reserve with them.
So that's all folks. I hope you enjoyed this week's 'Wednesday with Fishnets'! Again, please let me know what you'd like to see more of!