Without artists, all of your favorite characters, scenes, costumes, and locations would just be words on a page. In short, they’re the ones that make comics comics. That’s a lot of responsibility, yet the best artists manage to juggle all of those tasks and inject some meaningful art and style into the proceedings. Whether its a subtle expression or a jaw-dropping action sequence, our favorite artists add the requisite magic to make their worlds and characters real. These are our top 10 artists of 2016. Continue reading →
Episodic storytelling is the name of the game in monthly comics. Month- or even multi-year-long arcs are fine, but a series lives and dies by its individual chapters. From self-contained one-offs to issues that recontextualize their respective series, this year had a ton of great issues. Whittling down those issues to a list was no easy task (and we look forward to hearing how your lists differ in the comments), but we would gladly recommend any (and all) of these issues without hesitation. These are our top 10 issues of 2016.Continue reading →
You know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but that doesn’t mean you can’t judge the cover on its own merit. Some covers are so excellent that they pack all the drama, excitement and emotion of the whole issue into one succinct image. Sometimes they end up being their own surreal experience. And other times, we’re just exciting to see our favorite heroes kicking ass one more time. These are our top 10 covers of 2016.Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing The Fix 7, originally released December 21st, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
I originally pitched [Breaking Bad] to the studio with one line. I told them: “This is a story about a man who transforms himself from Mr. Chips into Scarface.”
Drew: Vince Gilligan’s elevator pitch for Breaking Bad might be one of the most well-known loglines in modern television — my dad knows it, if that’s any indication. I suspect people are attracted to the simplicity of Gilligan’s analogies; he calls on two films to paint before and after portraits of Walter White. For me, though, the very fact that he used two film characters to chart the endpoints of Walter’s evolution speaks to the differences between television and film — or, rather, the specific narrative capabilities of serialized stories. Where Walter White’s character is fundamentally one in transition between two points, film characters like Mr. Chips and Scarface are better understood as points.
To me, this is simply down to the matter of time. We don’t have enough time with film characters to form strong enough senses of who they are for all but the most obvious changes to even register. Any subtler changes might just be seen as inconsistency while we’re still forming our first impressions. In serialized narratives, though, we have much more time to develop a clear sense of who a character is — what they want, what they fear, what they will or won’t do — so can appreciate smaller, subtler changes. In a series like Breaking Bad, those changes slowly accumulate, building to drastic transformations that somehow never feel drastic at the moment. In a series like The Fix, those changes can provide a much more nuanced portrait when a character is pushed to the limit. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing The Fix 5, originally released September 14th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Spencer: The stars of The Fix are not good people; Roy, especially, has been portrayed as completely immoral and self-serving. There’s one more aspect of his personality, though, that we shouldn’t forget, one which Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber thoroughly remind us of in The Fix 5: he’s pretty bad at being a criminal, too. Roy’s ability to break the law and get away with it has more to do with the corrupt institution he serves than his own skills, meaning he’ll squander any chance he has to progress as a criminal. For the citizens of The Fix‘s L.A., that’s probably a very good thing. Continue reading →
Today, Ryan and Shelby are discussing The Fix 2, originally released May 11th, 2016.
Ryan: The best art is immersive. After an afternoon with a book or a brief television binge, it can take a little while for my brain to climb back out of that fictional world. That’s why I knew what butterbeer tasted like before Universal studios invented a recipe or why I can’t be trusted to drive home from a Fast & Furious movie. By engaging more than a single sense, stories can offer a gateway rather than a mere window into a world. Writer Nick Spencer and Artist Steve Leiber offer that gateway in The Fix 2, by using their medium to engage more than just visually. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing The Fix 1, originally released April 5th, 2016.
Spencer: As someone who’s always flitted around the outskirts of his local punk community, I can’t say that I’ve ever had a great deal of trust for authority figures. Still, in the past few years I’ve seen what little faith I had whittled down to almost nothing. Between the constant pushing of discriminatory laws, the circus that is the current election cycle, and the repeated, horrific abuses of power when it comes to the police (especially in regards to racially motivated crimes), it seems clear that those in power are mainly concerned with nothing but their own well being. Steve Lieber and Nick Spencer’s new series, The Fix, taps into these very concerns by claiming that most efficient way to be a criminal is simply to become one of the supposed “good guys.” Continue reading →
Today, Taylor and Spencer are discussing The Superior Foes of Spider-Man 12, originally released June 4th, 2014.
Taylor: The excellent blog kottke.org recently brought to my attention a video on visual comedy. In this short feature, Tony Zhou makes a strong case for the lack of visual comedy in your typical comedic film. He also highlights a lot of movies, like Hot Fuzz, which make excellent use of visual comedy. It got me to thinking about how difficult it is to pull off visual comedy in film, much less in comics. Like in writing, something about pulling off a comedic still frame is surprisingly difficult. As with movies, I think we often aren’t treated to great visual comedy. However, Superior Foes of Spider-Man 12 bucks this trend and shows just how funny a comic can be based almost entirely on its visual elements alone.
Today, Taylor and Greg are discussing The Superior Foes of Spider-Man 8, originally released February 5th, 2014.
Taylor: Since the dawn of pop-culture, antiheroes have been those ill behaving scallywags we love despite their flaws. They may not act right all the time, but we love them despite, if not explicitly for, their flaws. In the annals of American culture, the antihero has frequently eclipsed their more traditionally heroic counterparts — just look at Han Solo or Walter White. This trend has naturally extended to comic books and while many protagonists of comics are antiheroes, few are outright villains. In case you couldn’t tell by its title, The Superior Foes of Spider Man focuses on a villain, who by virtue of his narrative is an antihero. And while we all enjoy a good antihero, it is a perilous line they walk, and issue eight displays how precarious their position is. It begs the question, just how shitty can a protagonist be before we’ve had enough?
Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing The Superior Foes of Spider-Man 3, originally released September 4th, 2013.
Taylor: We all know the origin story of Spider-Man. Peter Parker gets bitten by a radioactive spider and gains the sensational powers of a spider. At first, he doesn’t use his powers for good, instead choosing to indulge himself in a world of personal gain and selfishness. An indirect consequence of the path he chooses is that his Uncle Ben is murdered by a thug he previously had failed to apprehend. Because of this, Peter comes to fully understand his uncle’s saying: “with great power comes great responsibility,” which leads him on the path to superherodom. But what if your path is different from Peter’s? What if instead of choosing to be a hero, you choose to be a villain? What creed or mantra would you follow then? What expectations would you have of yourself and those you call your allies? In a surprising change of tone, Superior Foes of Spider-Man 3 explores this question and the result is a deepening of Boomerang’s character that, while unexpected, is a welcome addition to the series.