Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.
If I had $15, I’d go with Megaskull, a collection of short, extremely politically incorrect comics by British cartoonist Kyle Platts. Platts is working a similar vein of humor to Johnny Ryan in his Angry Youth Comics days, so those easily offended by jokes about, say, abortion should probably stay away. Those who still own a copy of Truly Tasteless Jokes will want to check this out though.
If I had $30, I’d ignore Megaskull and go with what would pick of the week for me: Grandville: Bete Noire, the third entry in Bryan Talbot’s excellent, ongoing funny-animal detective series, this time finding Inspector LeBrock tracking down an assassin in the city’s art scene. Talbot’s blood-soaked blend of noir, satire, mystery and, um, furry antics might seem a bit odd at first glance but it proves to be an intoxicating and engrossing blend.
Splurge: Grendel Omnibus, Vol. 2 collects one of the most interesting runs starring Matt Wagner’s titular killer, largely due to the art work of the Pander Brothers. I’ve never had the chance to really sit down with this material beyond the occasional five-minute glance, so mayhap this is my chance to dive in.
While many of us are preoccupied with Tuesday’s election, Guy Fawkes Day or what titles we’ll pick up at the comic store, Matt Hawkins’ mind is on something far more important, and far more personal: that day, exactly two years ago, when he nearly took his own life.
On his Facebook page, the president and chief operating officer of Top Cow Productions writes frankly about what brought him to the brink of suicide — divorce, a messy personal life and a belief that his children would be better off without him — and just how close he came to going through with it.
“Once I made the decision to do it I recall feeling an odd sense of relief and calm, which is kind of frightening in retrospect,” Hawkins writes. “I spent a few hours putting my affairs in order and wrote a series of emails that I saved as drafts to send all at once so I wouldn’t see the responses. I hand wrote a letter to my boys essentially saying this wasn’t their fault and that I loved them. I left the letter on my table with a copy of my will, etc. I then drove down to Santa Monica beach with my gun in my computer bag and went down and sat on one of the cliffs there overlooking the water. I couldn’t think of a better place to die. I sat there thinking about things still oddly calm and ultimately the thought of missing out on my boys future and the possible stigmatizing of them from my own cowardly death shook me out of the calm fog. I started shaking violently and changed my mind.”
Body Bags creator Jason Pearson is drawing a number of cheesecake style-commissions and discovering an emotional resonance and significance that might not be apparent to everyone. Even so, they are providing him with some solace following a suicide attempt last December.
“Maybe I’m stupid for using cheesecake to answer questions about psychiatry and quantum physics but it gets me through the fucking day,” he posted over the weekend on his Facebook page. “If I’m wrong, then at least you can be amused by the titillation.”
He has decided to discontinue any more work with Marvel and DC Comics, and instead focus on work that matters to him on some level. As he puts it, “it has to feel right.” To that effect, he is concentrating on a new story arc for his creator-owned series Body Bags (with a Kickstarter campaign possibly to follow), as well as taking on commissions. His commission work is admittedly cheesecake, but for him there are deeper messages within the sexy images that fit his new objective.
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy on Wednesday based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item.
If I had $15 this week, I’d immediately go for Flashpoint #1 (DC Comics, $3.99) – I am very, very unsure about the number of tie-ins DC are pushing out for the new crossover event, but with Geoff Johns in charge, I’m suspecting that the main book will be worth a look at least. I’d also grab the relaunched GI Joe #1 (IDW, $3.99), if only to follow up on the “Cobra Civil War” storyline that I admit has completely caught my attention unexpectedly. Curiosity would also get me to pick up both Moriarty #1 (Image, $2.99) and Total Recall #1 (Dynamite, $1.99), two new launches that will hopefully take familiar ideas and characters in directions I wouldn’t expect…
Shawn Crystal is a SCAD Atlanta professor I met back in October (as documented in this story). In addition to his role educating storytellers, Crystal is a professional artist equally busy building a name for himself in the comics industry. Tomorrow (February 3) will feature the release of his latest effort, Deadpool Team-Up 896 (written by Stuart Moore). As previewed last week by CBR and detailed here: “Get ready to hit the road with U.S. ACE, Marvel’s truckin’ hero! He’s back behind the wheels of a big rig with an unlikely partner — DEADPOOL — and together they’re puttin’ the hammer down, ridin’ the open road, and decapitatin’ giant killer raccoons. Good times…if they don’t kill each other first! Featuring the working-class villainy of THE HIGHWAYMAN, and the world premiere of the chart-toppin’ “Ballad of U.S. Ace,” composed and performed by Wade Wilson. What part of ‘Collector’s Item’ don’t you understand?” I was pleased to get an opportunity to talk to Crystal about this issue and creators he respects (as well as find out his David Lapham news). After enjoying this email exchange, be sure to check out Crystal’s blog as well as his deviantART page.
Tim O’Shea: The first question I have to ask–what reference does an artist use when drawing giant killer raccoons?
Shawn Crystal: There is a very popular book many artists have in their studio, and cherish like the arc of the covenant. It’s called “Homicidal Animals: A reference manual for the aspiring cartoonist.” Unfortunately, I do not own this book, so I had to resort to some more traditional methods. I started with the obvious, books on raccoons that were peppered with glamour shots of these little buggers. I also spent some time seeing how other artists had handled raccoons, mainly animators. There was some decent stuff in “Disney’s: The art of Pocahontas.” I also talked to a buddy of mine, Brad Walker who draws Guardians of the Galaxy, which has Rocket Raccoon as a team member. Researching raccoons was fairly easy; creating the chopper gang was a ton of fun. I needed to design a gang of Uzi wielding raccoons on motorcycles. The first thing I needed to find was a thread, something to make this gang seem like a team. Working for Marvel affords me the luxury of using their library, so I chose the X-Men. Well, the kid in me did. I started designing raccoons based on the themes and shapes of some of the X-Men and their costumes. I also wanted to give this biker gang a Hells Angel’s feel, ol skool choppers and leather. I didn’t want to go with the more current crotch rocket trend. I have an affinity of the art of Von Dutch, Ed “Big Daddy” Roth and Robert Williams. I pulled out the books I have on these guys and started drawing. X Men + Hells Angels + Racoons = Crazy fun designing.