** Review: Injection Volume 1 (Ellis, Shalvey, Bellaire; Image Comics)-- The Warren Ellis/Declan Shalvey/Jordie Bellaire run on Moon Knight was popular, but the stories never felt like they were more than tossed off concepts stretched out into a full issue of a comic. It’s a clipped writing mode that Ellis has tried to achieve with varying degrees of success since his slimline format book Fell with Ben Templesmith. The Moon Knight stories were visually exciting and the stories had strong hooks, but it never felt like Ellis was really that interested in the characters he was writing. His second major work with the Slavey-Bellaire artistic team feels more like classic Ellis as he strikes a nice balance between concept and character.
The story sets up a group of characters who years ago tried to ensure that the future would continue to progress and develop. And now that future has caught up with them and they’ve got to deal with the ramifications of that. Some of Ellis’s best writing is when he’s working with an ensemble cast, such as in Planetary or the underappreciated FreakAngels, or strong single characters as in Transmetropolitan and Red. Injection Volume One is the perfect blend of those two approaches with a strong focus on one character, Maria Kilbride while setting up the rest of her team as the future begins to fight back.
Shalvey has a nice visual pacing that syncs up with Ellis’s story. His composition finds ways to move back and forth between the more mundane and supernatural parts of this story with ease. He can do the talking head scenes, the violent action and the out-of-this-world sequences and have them exist side-by-side. Part of that is that his character work is so strong and consistent that it binds the book visually. Bellaire’s color acts as another binding agent, weaving the connective visual element throughout the book.
It’s these broad, large stories that Ellis has a strong knack for. As already mentioned, this is the spiritual predecessor of Planetary and FreakAngels but also Global Frequency and also his currently running Trees with Jason Howard. The world isn’t the way it’s supposed to be and now it’s time for the people who are responsible for that to set things right and to protect this crazy, strange world.
** Pattering about Panels:
- For week 3 of Inktober, Rob M. highlighted the drawings of Kelly Williams, John Welding, & Breakfast Jones.
- Scott C. reviewed Kelly Sue DeConnick, Valentine De Landro and Robert Wilson IV's Bitch Planet Book One.
** What Does Cinematical Mean? (Vulture)-- A term that gets thrown around a lot in writing about comics is "cinematical." "This comic was so cinematical." "That comic was wide screen" (different words but to the same effect.) In a lot of criticism, comics and even in television, it's become a shorthand term that's very problematical. It's a shortcut to describe something when it would be more powerful to use our words and describe what we mean by "cinematical" when referring to something in a comic book. It also is a shortcut that prevents us from creating or using our own language for comics. As we try to describe one form of art using another form, we're taking backward steps in developing our own critical parlance to talk about a vibrant artform.
Comic reviewers and critics aren't the only ones guilty of this. In this golden age of television, TV critics and recappers describe many shows as "cinematical" but over at The Vulture, Matt Zoller Seitz has a video essay explaining why he thinks this term is being used incorrectly and that there's a very specific and thematic meaning we should embrace when we call something "cinematical."
** Moebius and the Key of Dreams (Paris Review)-- (quick aside, I love this image of Moebius- the regal Monsieur Jean Giraurd.) At The Paris Review, Robert Pranzatelli looks at the worlds that Moebius created in his comics.
As [Moebius] later explained, this state of “insécurité permanente”—the desire it inspired in him to re-create consistency and the satisfaction of then doing so—brought him “un délice absolu” (“absolute delight”). Elizabeth Bishop, when asked what quality she most valued in a poem, famously answered “surprise”—an element common to many forms of delight, whether at a child’s birthday party, in a researcher’s moment of discovery, or in a work of art. It is also essential to both comedy and suspense, and for Moebius it was central to his compositional process. Beyond his need to continually surprise himself, he also spoke of setting aside his rational “decision center” and allowing his hand to become “autonomous” when he created as Moebius (his works as Gir were necessarily more disciplined).Somehow I had even completely forgotten about the Inside Moebius books that he did in the last 15 or so years. I hope those are part of all of the books that Dark Horse will be reprinting soon.
** Inflatable Dolls-- The Hooded Utilitarian's Kim O'Connor takes on Adrian Tomine.
Despite these missteps, Tomine’s talent is plain. There are quiet moments of real insight, like when he writes about how your neighbors on a long flight transform back into strangers after you deplane. He has a natural ear for dialogue. His facility with his pen across multiple styles (which he employs to great effect throughout the collection) really can’t be overstated. And his palette is flawless, demonstrating a masterful use of color that surpasses even Ware’s.I honestly don't see a lot to argue about in O'Connor's critique of Tomine. His comics are very male-centric. I think I've always appreciated Tomine more for how his stories are than for what they are and maybe that's a problem. It's probably more of a blindspot when it comes to the way that I view his cartoons. Having read a lot of Tomine, I can't say how much of it's really stuck with me in any meaningful way. O'Connor compares Tomine (favorably) to Ware but there's a level of humanity that's visible in Ware's work that I've personally never found in Tomine. Even with that, I still find Tomine a great cartoonist because I think that level of remove in his comics is a significant part of his artistic journey.
And The Hooded Utilitarian is one of the websites where you can read the comments. Keep reading beyond just the main piece because there's some good discussion continuing there.
** In 'Killing and Dying', Drama Is Hidden Between the Lines of Profile Art and Dialogue (Pop Matters)-- In the interest of giving equal time, Hans Rollman at Pop Matters praises Tomine's new collection "Killing and Dying."
Nothing actually seems to happen in any of the stories. But the key lies in reading the interior drama beneath the prosaic surface. In a sense, work like this challenges the reader: emotional drama is carried not on the sleeve, but hidden elusively somewhere between the lines of profile art and dialogue. “The old geisha’s face is presented rather casually. Yet if we can see through it, we realize that behind this mask are hidden her deepest emotional dramas…”
** I Just Love Car Chases (Twitter)- If this tweet means that Gabriel Bá is working on new Umbrella Academy, I'm pretty excited. That first miniseries was one of the best comics of this century!
**'Ghost' by Whit Taylor: finding a new self in an irrevocably changed world (Comics&Cola)-- At Comics & Cola, Zainab reviews a comic by Panel Patter favorite Whit Taylor.
** Twenty Small Press Anthologies Of Note (The Comics Journal)-- Speaking of Panel Patter favorites, Rob Clough reviews twenty small press anthologies (if that wasn't apparent in the link title,) including Pratfall, edited by our own Rob Kirby.