Some Recent Reading


Thursday, March 20, 2008

I’ve been a little bad about writing (as usual), but there’s a lot going on in PictureBox land and man oh man it’s hard to think. Anyhow, I’ve recently gotten into the fun habit of stopping off at my local comics shop, Rocketship, and buying some comics on my way home from the office. Oh man it’s enjoyable to do that. Lately, co-proprietor Alex Cox has been egging me on to buy various pamphlets and, since I can’t resist, here’s what I’ve been reading lately:

Punisher War Journal: Matt Fraction writes it and Howard Chaykin draws it. I have to say, I really like this title. Fraction is firmly in the Morrison/Milligan self aware tradition, but he has a sarcastic, easy style — somehow more casual than the the Brits. I like his work here, which so far concerns washed up super villains going about their daily lives. Basically these are noir slice of life stories, like a riff on Eisner’s Spirit, where The Punisher only appears at the end to, well, make it a Punisher comic. Chaykin’s art is awfully fun. He’s never been the most subtle of artists, but he’s using photoshop is some very curious/possibly retarded ways and I like it. In any case, can you believe Howard Chaykin is drawing the Punisher? Remember American Flagg? Or Cody Starbuck?

99 and 100: Well, whenever I read Nexus I think of Frank’s smiling face, so how can I resist. This is totally fun space-opera stuff. Rude is in good form and he looks more like Russ Manning than ever. This is just delightful stuff written and drawn with utter conviction. It’s nice to see a comic book that’s not snarky or “meta”, and yet still contemporary enough to hold my attention.

Powr Mastrs 2: I read the first fifty pages last week. They’re being scanned now. Let’s just say that CF might’ve learned a thing or two from Russ Manning as well. It’s his best, most exciting work to date.

The Last Defenders #1: This comic was more or less incomprehensible to me.

Omega the Unknown #6: Another great issue, as the plot deepens and some very odd formal tropes come into play. I love this series and I think the more intricate it gets (now there’s a “Watcher” stand-in) the better.

Rasl #1: This is Jeff Smith’s new comic. I was never much of a Bone fan, but I like this. Did anyone else notice the similarities between it and Sammy Harkham’s Crickets? Or Frank’s Incanto? Lone man wandering in a hostile landscape? Well, not the most unique idea, I know, but funny to see it pop up three times in recent months. Jeff Smith’s rendering can irk me a bit sometimes — it feels overdone, too knotty and muscled. But this story, which sets us in the midst of a somewhat ambiguous scenario, moves swiftly and is perfectly paced for the pamphlet format. It’s a complete story but leaves enough questions to make me want to get the next one. That’s good serialization.

By the way, I re-read Miracleman 1-6. Oh boy, it’s awesome — it’s funny to read it now and realize it’s still so much better than the million imitators still going.

That’s all for now. Back to work.

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13 Responses to “Some Recent Reading”
  1. Frank Santoro says:


    I just picked up a bunch of Chaykin from the dollar bin. The Challengers series? Really great actually. He’s a retarded craftsman of the highest order. Solid in and out, ya gotta love Chaykin.

    TIME2! Get ready for a Chaykin profile in the next ComicsComics newspaper edition…

  2. Jog says:

    Oh man, I really liked his Challengers series, even if it kind of falls to pieces by the end… like, it’s kind of the loudest, shrillest satire ever (the villain for most of it is FOX NEWS), but it’s totally bolstered by the world he builds visually… I think there’s several action bits where it’s literally nothing but people flailing with blazing guns against a background of nothing but BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM in neat rows. I also dug the way he used repeating page layouts to emphasize the shared struggle of the hero characters against the elite… probably my favorite of his since Blackhawk

  3. Frank Santoro says:

    With the Challengers series, I kept marveling at how Chaykin could fit all the characters into one panel, let alone one page! I could write a term paper on his layouts.

    Did the TV show ‘Heroes’ totally bite the concept of the programmed sleeper agents who all find themselves in a “situation”?? I missed the Challengers series when it came out and when I finally read it I noticed that it pre-dates Heroes. Hmmm.

  4. chan says:

    Chaykin is the man. Check out his Word Balloon interview.

  5. BVS says:

    am I the only one who finds it really hard to look at Jeff Smith’s drawings of “realistic” looking Humans? theres just something weird about them, like they are baby people or adults with child like faces, even the old grandma in bone was like that. they frighten me.

    also yes! Miracleman, I read it at age 18 and declared it by favorite comic of all. recently I re-read it. 10 years later and having read many more and different comics, I wasn’t sure I would still even like it. But it’s still totally awasome. not at the top but still on the list of favorite comics. I am glad I bought all 5 trades back when you could find them all over the place cheap, look at the prices for them on ebay today yikes!

  6. Frank Santoro says:

    Chaykin podcast:

    Thanks for the tip.

    Also, hey Dan, there’s a Matt Fraction interview also on their site.

    Oh, yeah, I wanted to mention that I’ve seen some of those Miracleman pages in person when John Totleben used to go to Pittsburgh shows in the early 90s. Some of the most amazing drawing for comics I’ve ever seen.

  7. mella says:

    Chaykin, great!

  8. Dan Nadel says:

    Hmm, I’ll check out the Challengers series. Sounds good. Blackhawk holds up wonderfully. Chaykin … what a character.

  9. T Hodler says:

    I agree with Jog that the Challengers series is “kind of the loudest, shrillest satire ever”, but I don’t agree that it’s “totally bolstered by the world he builds visually.”

    I’d replace “totally” with “kinda, sorta” — it’s really loud and really shrill. Others disagree, obviously.

  10. Chris K says:

    Chaykin’s takedown of Ann Coulter in Challengers was childish, tasteless, and totally obvious. It was tremendously satisfying.

    From the early Marvel/Miracleman, I’ve always loved Sue Moran’s assessment of superhero comics: “Some of it’s better than you’d expect, but most of it’s crap.” Yes. Yes, indeed.

    –Chris K

  11. Jason Overby says:

    Damn. I haven’t read Miracleman since it came out, but it seems like it’s out of print. I remember thinking it was super good and not quite as overblown as Watchmen. Anybody have any idea where I might come across this on the cheap?

  12. Frank Santoro says:

    I’ve noticed the back issues coming down in price actually. Search stores directly, not on ebay. I’m sure you can find beater copies to read.

  13. Jason Overby says:

    Good idea. Thanks.

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