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Talking Comics with Tim | Nick Dragotta on ‘East of West’

Panels from "East of West" #4

Panels from “East of West” #4

There are certain artists who prove that their work only gets better with each new project and new issue. Such is the case with Nick Dragotta on East of West, his new creator-owned ongoing series with Jonathan Hickman.

I relish any opportunity to interview Dragotta, particularly in the same week that East of West 5#. His ability to lay out some spectacular action scenes continues to be a given in this Image Comics series, but I have also grown to appreciate his ability to develop distinctive architecture as well as engaging, yet more sedate, scenes.

In addition to discussing East of West, Dragotta also brought me up to date on Howtoons, which we talked about in our first interview in 2011. As the father of a kid who loves do-it-yourself activities, I appreciate the involvement of the artist and his wife Ingrid in a project that fosters fun, educational activities for children. To learn he has gotten creator favorites of mine, such as Fred Van Lente (no stranger to educational entertainment), Jeff Parker and Sandy Jarrell involved is just icing on the DIY cake.

Back to East of West, the artist and I also got a chance to (hopefully) satiate Comics Should Be Good’s Greg Burgas’ curiosity regarding the East of West creative process that he broached in a recent essay on reviewing the art in comics. In addition, Dragotta was kind enough to share an unlettered page from East of West #5 as well as unlettered pages from issues 2 and 4. With the first trade (collecting issues 1-5) set for release on Sept. 11, we also discuss its potential impact on audience growth. Full candor: Dragotta blindsided me with his Rob Liefeld fan club confession. Seriously, though, it is refreshing to see a talent such as Dragotta reveling in the opportunity to do creator-owned work.

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Chain Reactions | Avengers Arena #1

Avengers Arena #1

This week saw the release of another Marvel NOW! title, but this one was a little bit different than the others. For one thing, it isn’t a relaunch of an existing title — at least, not directly — and it’s gotten some attention already for its similarities to The Hunger Games and Battle Royale. Avengers Arena, by Dennis Hopeless, Kev Walker and Frank Martin, has the classic X-Men villain Arcade kidnapping 16 young Marvel heroes and throwing them into Murderworld, where it’s kill or be killed. Plus, y’know, it’s Murderworld, so there’s more to worry about than just your temporary ally turning on you.

So does the book deliver, or does it leave you “hungering” for something else? (Ack, that’s bad; sorry about that). Here are a few reviews from around the web:

Greg McElhatton, Comic Book Resources: “After an opening sequence set (presumably) near the end of the series’ set-up, Hopeless re-introduces readers to the characters that he’s lined up to get kidnapped by Arcade in the latest iteration of his Murderworld complex. Here, these sixteen characters are given 30 days to kill or be killed, with only one allowed to be standing at the end of the time period. If this sounds a little bit like The Hunger Games (or going further back, Battle Royale or even The Long Walk), you aren’t alone in that assessment. Hopeless has Arcade acknowledge the similarity and move forward from there, a nod to the connection between the two. But once you get past that, there’s actually less to get worked up over than you might suspect.” (2.5/5)

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