Wow, is it really that time again? Time for five more completely rad things in the world of comics? Shoot, I guess it is! Here we go!
1. DC’s new trade dress
Okay, just ignore that “Batman” logo for this exercise. It won’t take long I promise, and when we’re done, you can go back to reckoning with the fact that DC still has one of their most popular characters sporting a logo an Ozzfest poster.
So. We all knew Rebirth wasn’t going to last forever, but it was a) super good looking, and b) did an unsung amount of work in presenting the DC universe as a unified entity. So the question remained, what next?
This approach slims down the real estate and doesn’t hitch itself to a particular storyline, and thus kind of expands out the idea. It’s branding the universe, not a status quo.
It also allow them to make it more clear that certain books that may or may not have directly reflected Rebirth, are still a part of the core continuity. It’s pretty handy for people who probably care a little too much about that sort of thing. (I care a lot of too much about that sort of thing.)
2. The “Paper Girls” covers, I mean
Speaking of covers, one of the most tragic aspects of reading comics digitally (aside from not having a cool local comic shop to visit every week) is that comics that use gatefold covers usually only get posted with the front half of that cover. Now, of course, these images are usually designed have the front half work on its own, but still, when they’re good, you want to be able to see the whole thing.
“Paper Girls” is an instance where they’re very, very good. Cliff Chiang and colorist Matt Wilson put together some of the most striking covers in all of comics, ever. So it stings when you only get to see their work split between the front of your Comixology file and the back. Luckily, the digital edition of their first deluxe volume reproduces the covers in their entirety. I’m going to let my favorites speak for themselves below. You should do yourself a favor and pick up the digital versions yourself. The only hard part is picking which one to make your new desktop.
3. Jorge Jimenez: The next comics superstar
Where did Jorge Jimenez come from? I mean, yeah, I can look it up and tell you, but it kind of feels like he just arrived fully formed a few months ago when “Super Sons” started. The playfulness, the sense of design and flexibility, he’s rapidly established a one-of-a-kind style, and it’s perfectly suited for a comic about two kids having wild adventures.
In the page below, you can how great he is at controlling chaos. Tons of action in every panel, and a page layout that from a bird’s-eye-view, could look all over the place in lesser hands. But his line work and character performances work perfectly in tandem with such a pliable panel structure.
DC has been very good at recognizing talent, and quickly gave Jimenez a spot in the blockbuster “Metal” tie-in “Batman: Lost,” where delivered stuff like this:Continued below
I don’t even know where to start with the varying textures in the piece, starting from the top with a Capullo-esque texture to Barbatos, some bright clean superhero work, an almost painterly lighting on Batman and then a stark light and dark confrontation at the bottom. (Alejandro Sanchez’ colors are the perfect complement.)
Jimenez, though, is no slouch when it comes to simple sequences of acting either:
Dude can do it all.
4. When Fonografiks goes full retro on “Nowhere Men”
This is the first thing I saw when “Nowhere Men” was announced, and I knew instantly it would be my favorite book ever. Yes, Nate Bellegarde (and later Dave Taylor) do career-great work drawing the book, and Eric Stephenson crafts a complex and compelling and totally unique world, but it was the swagger of this single image by Fonografiks that made me fall in love. Impeccably echoing a decades old design aesthetic, but also featuring enough of a sense of the art to tell you how great it was going to look, plus giving you just a hint of the scope of the story.
I didn’t expect, however, how integrated these design explorations would be to the main story. Key details were revealed in spreads like this one:
A pitch perfect recreation of an old magazine spread, down to the paper discoloration and the editorial illustration of the protagonists and the beaker. These sorts of story beats appeared multiple times in every issue, spanning several styles and eras, all essential to the narrative and world building at play.
My favorite one, though, was easily this:
Not content to simply pay homage to classic Penguin cover design, or to show the unique mindsets of the four main characters, (presumably) Stephenson uses four Blur songs for the book titles.
If ever there was a single piece of content that overlapped every circle in the Venn Diagram of things I love, it would be this one.
5. How many perfect things can you cram into a single “Doctor Strange” panel?
I was in such a bind as to whether or not talk about this in this column since I already gave props to Donny Cates and Gabriel Hernandez Walta’s incredible “Doctor Strange” issue not three weeks ago. But this single panel (ably assisted by Jordie Bellaire’s colors and Cory Petit’s letters) contains so many phenomenal details and instances of concise story details:
- Loki wearing those funky, classic Doctor Strange gloves
- Loki using Skurge’s M-16s, as featured in the blockbuster motion picture Thor: Ragnarok
- Zelma wearing headphones because of the shooting
- Zelma yelling because she’s wearing headphones because of the shooting
- The smoke from the guns telling you there was just shooting
- The books are magically oversized
- The books are floating
- Zelma is sitting comfortably to read the floating book
- That door is massive
- That door is extremely well locked
Most comics can’t even cram that much coolness into a whole issue much less one panel.