Sunday, March 30, 2008

comic review!

So, unlike Swinebread or Dave, I don't review comics. This is mostly because I am NOT a writer. However, I picked up a comic because Swinebread mentioned it and I'd like to share a little of what I thought. That comic is War is Hell.

First off, let me say that I like it, I will buy the rest of the series and I would recommend it so far. I do, however have some slight problems with the art.

I guess I'm spoiled. My heyday of comics was Bill Sienciewicz doing the New Mutants and Art Adams doing all sorts of stuff (including the great New Mutants annual that took place in Asgard); as I began to fall out of mainstream comics, Alan Davis was a parachute and nobody can stop being a Groo fan. For the past few years, it's been mostly small press monthlies and TPBs and European small-press and creator-owned comics. These latter have longer deadlines than the monthlies, so the art is usually more involved.

The art in War is Hell, is overall, quite good. The layout is exceptional and as a result the story moves along at a nice pace. It starts out cinematically with a close-up of a pilot in a biplane cockpit that, on the next page, opens up to this:

That's a sweet splash page, huh? The dynamism in this, especially after the quiet moment a page before is great. I was really impressed with the Sienciewicz-esque smoke/flame effects.

The figures are well done and the faces have a nice semi-caricature European style to them:

But, the rushed nature of the monthly dealines really shows sometimes. For some reason, this really bugs, me. Probably because the details and care put into the aircraft. Just tell me, what is up with the ground crew's coveralls?

Are they local French mechanics who just got back from a Cirque de Soleil rehersal? Having to work fast is one thing, but this is just stupid. It's not just in this panel, but I don't feel like scanning all of the others to make a point.

All in all, as I said, a good mag. The story moves well and I really want to see what happens. It just makes me wish that It could have been a six-months of work graphic novel.

So, because I harshed on someone else's artowrk, harsh on mine. I've been hitting Jake Parker's website for a while and his really cool 'industrial designs' have inspired me to sit down and really make a big machine picture. Here's the Westland Skua, a ground attack/reconnaissance autogryo flown by the RNZAF in 1940*.

Listening to while posting: Venus, Bringer of Peace by Gustav Holst from 'The Planets' symphony.

*Don't bother looking it up, I made it up. Duh.


Don Snabulus said...

I really like the creativity of your aircraft. They just look like they are ready to pounce on the story.

My layman's Critique of your Skua:

1. Not enough spandex mechanic jumpsuits.

Okay, seriously...

2. The lower door looks like it doesn't cover enough space to meet up with the glass cowling (is that the right term?). I also think it needs a lower hinge.

3. The 2 front machine guns don't look synced up dimensionally to me. Maybe the angle of the left one is pointed too far left?

4. It looks like the rear machine gun turret could use some idiot bars to keep from hitting the stabilizing cables. Oh wait, on second look it does seem to have that. Cool!

I have trouble with stick figures, so factor that into your equation.

Sweet Enemy said...

Thank goodness someone can comment on the mechanical stuff in more technical terms than me.. Barkon shows it to me and I can pick on a few things, but then I have trouble drawing a cartoon bicycle.

Arkonbey said...

Snab: Thanks for the great critique. Now, where the heck were you when I was pencilling this, huh? Jeez, way to let me down ;)

The things you notice really bug me now as you've made them obvious. The door especially. I'll have to pay more attention in the future.

Swinebread said...

I hope the comic store was not too much of a harrowing experience for you!

I love your quick analysis/breakdown of the art. That’s the stuff I’d like to read if you do more reviews on your blog. The art by Howard Chaykin is not my favorite (it’s kinda scribblely) but he has a certain charm you just go with it. He’s got a Heavy Metal kinda style. What downgrades it for me is the coloring. Chaykin’s art just looks better in black and white imo. The colorist doesn’t know what to do with his scratchy style. It’s interesting to compare his work in War is Hell to his work in the Enemy Ace Showcase Presents Collection (because he did a few stories, pages 429 - 458). Both are WWI and have a similar feel but the b&w reprint works better in Enemy Ace.

Your Gyro is out his world I like the aggressive foreshortening that you went for although I have the same negatives as sanb.

I like the coloring to. Maybe you could add some silver metal under the chipped paint?
Keep up the good work, because I’m getting a Miyazaki vibe from that aircraft!

Swinebread said...

sorry, after I took a closer look I noticed that you did have some silver on the chipped sections

Arkonbey said...


I totally agree with you about the coloring; that the colorist had no idea what to do with the inking style. And, I totally can't think of why I didn't mention it.

I have to get some Enemy Ace.

Yeah, Snab was spot-on (darnit). Next time.

When you mentioned the chips I thought you wanted them to be more silvery and shiny.

Swinebread said...

"When you mentioned the chips I thought you wanted them to be more silvery and shiny."

I though better of it later

Don Snabulus said...

where the heck were you when I was pencilling this, huh?

You probably don't want me around. I might drink all your beer (or green tea).

I'm glad the comments helped. I was a bit worried because I am a newbie to the comics scene (thanks to the evan-jelly-sizing of SwineBread on his blog converting me to comicness) and I don't have a full grasp for what more savvy comic people consider important.

Beginner's luck! ;)