Tag Archives: art

NaPoWriMo 2015 Day 29 – Where

Standard

Where have my robots gone?
Is there another shelf for them
or desk on which to lead
their silent plastic lives?
A room that is one
and two and four
and a space that is more than
what it seems, more
than what it sounds.

Where has my artwork gone?
The wordland, the doctor,
the space between will and power
and better angels still?
No room for one more
as the walls are
laid bare again –
to prosper perhaps beyond
the boxed papers whispered
by faceless passers by
and sudden saxophones.

Where have my covers gone?
Are there no more layers
for them to build upon truths
and cushion the inevitable fall?
There is room for more
than one person
more than one body
to lie away
from the streets
more than one spirit
to inhabit the shape
left behind by another.

Where have my words gone?
Were they lost
where I last saw
where I last heard

Where will my room
find its space
find its sound
find its place
once it’s gone?

The Unwritten: Apocalypse #5

Standard

UnwrittenApoc5

Synopsis
This single-issue story interlude, “When Rabbit Howls” stars reader-favorite character Pauly Bruckner. Sometimes it’s hard to be a man – especially if all your recent experience is of being a rabbit. Pauly is back, and having his wishes come true may be just the start of his problems.

Story
After the end of its first arc, The Unwritten: Apocalypse pauses for an issue to look at the character that wasn’t intended to be: Pauly Bruckner, ex-regent of hell, ex-murderer, ex-rabbit – currently in the middle of a severe identity crisis, and adjusting to his new, uncomfortable reality.
An uncomfortableness that he realises is not due to the post-literary world outside, where a murderer can thrive, and in fact, does, very easily at that. But there is something bigger, something triggered by the outside that brings up what is simmering inside of him. And he speaks to may-or-may-not-be-there Dr Wise Old Owl, sometimes quite uncomfortably moving for the reader.
Writer Mike Carey gives us a fascinating look at Pauly’s character, in a very different vein from what we’ve seen before from him as Mr Bun in Willowbank, on the Staircase or even in Hell. And he gets his voice perfectly, really revelling in the non-filtered language, attitude and colourful turns of phrase of this bad bunny.

Art
The artwork, taking a leaf from The Unwritten OGN, Tommy Taylor and The Ship That Sank Twice, is taken care of by both Peter Gross and Al Davison, respectively on the layouts for the full book, the ‘narrator’ perspective that opens and closes the issue (and one of the most unsettling brown owls I have seen in a while), and on Pauly’s tale in between. And believe me, if Carey got the voice right, Davison does wonders with the looks. Between some truly creative panelwork to finish Gross’ layouts in the narrated flashback and some gruesome sequences, Pauly’s murderous nature finds a fitting outlook on the page. And Gross’ sections does not shy away either, with an excellent rabbit-to-human tranformation early on.
The transition between the two sections is made almost seamless by Chris Chuckry’s excellent soft hues of colour, keeping the grainy, gritty, worn-out look on most of the characters, Pauly and Wilson Taylor in particular. Only a couple of effects for Todd Klein’s lettering work to really shine trough, but the jagged title and coda fonts really capture the tone of the book.
In addition, the hauntigly beautiful cover by Yuko Shimizu is.. well, haunting, and beautiful. There are echoes of the first one of the Apocalypse run, but with Pauly’s trying to painfully emerge from the rabbit shell, trapped and tied to a tree by a thin, blue ribbon. Read in it what you will, before and after the story inside.

Thoughts (May Contain Spoilers)
As far as interludes go, I’m not sure this was really an interlude. The issue does pause and look at Pauly’s troubled mind, wishes and identity, but, much like the Mme Rausch appearances in #4, he is being set up for something promisingly very big, and stunningly so with Al Davison’s visual work. I have the distinct feeling that Carey and Gross are playing with their characters (and readers), some of whom in particular are playing with all the others, as the messed-up chessboard is slowly but steadily being laid out. Bruckner is going to return even less in control of what he thinks he is and wants, and Dr W.O.O. is.. you’ll have to find out, won’t you?

(Meanwhile Leviathan, quietly, watches.)

The Unwritten: Apocalypse #5 is now available in shops and digitally here.

The Unwritten: Apocalypse #4

Standard

UnwrittenApoc4

Synopsis
“War Stories,” part 3 of 3. Sometimes the closest thing you can find to a friend is your enemy’s enemy. But when Tom tries to enlist the help of Madame Rausch, he discovers that she’s already fighting a war of her own.

Story
The final part of the first story arc of The Unwritten‘s ending rolls in, not concluding the arc at all, but rather setting up the mayhem that is sure to ensue. The Unwritten: Apocalypse #4 brings us back to Wilson’s place, with Bruckner, Miri’s ghost, Wilson himself and the five main characters discussing (or trying not to discuss) plans to take down Pullman and restore (a) reality.
But Tom will have nothing of that, nor will Bruckner or Cosi or Leon, and Wilson is told what he deserves to hear – as Tom sets by himself to meet the only improbable ally he can think of: Madame Rausch, the third, literal, puppeteer alongside Taylor and Pullman. And what do we find out? Rausch knows things. And she’s on no one’s side but her own – or is she?
Mike Carey once again sneaks in some additional subtext in the section titles, this issue plucked from Lewis Carroll’s long nonsense poem ‘The Hunting of the Snark’. Something big is brewing in the future of the series, with Rausch quite probably returning to throw some splinters in everyone’s plans.

Art
The artwork that accompanies the issue, especially in the scenes towards and during the Madame Rausch encounter, is some dazzling and dizzying work from Peter Gross, with finished once again by Ryan Kelly. The parallels between Mingus and her tail around Tom’s neck and Rausch’s new ‘pet’ were subtle, but growing by the panel. And the pages leading towards ‘Grandmother’ are mindboggling. In the best way possible.
The colours, a dominance of dark grey and greens for this aftermath from last issue, are Chris Chuckry’s task. And does he know how to add reds and yellows when the situation didn’t know it needed them (and that first dusky sky is amazing). There are also some really nice touches by letterer Todd Klein, in the section titles and captions for different characters and settings, while the rest of fonts rest untouched this time.
The cover is by the fantastic Yuko Shimizu, though flipped with last month’s due to ‘Careylessness’; check that review for a look at it, and bask in the blood-soaked glory of the atavistic Pullman on this one, being and becoming the sacrificial ox of dark, deep red.

Thoughts (May Contain Spoilers)
The issue takes a step back from the action-filled conflicts of the previous two parts of ‘War Stories’, replacing the gripping with the chilling. It’s slower, definitely, than the encounter with Pullman and the Rakes. But then, Madame Rausch has always taken her time with things, after all. The dialogue, combined with the artwork in and around the scenes with Madame Rausch in her stronghold, are actually quite terrifying, looking back on the reading. Tom Taylor still believes he is no one’s tool, while being used by everyone around him. An issue of intrigue, strategy, and actually disturbing deals – surprisingly not with the regent of Hell. That will come next month, as we get back to the rabbit that isn’t, Pauly Bruckner.

The Unwritten: Apocalypse #4 is now available in shops and digitally here.

NaPoWriMo Day 2 – Variant

Standard

Comics are the supreme fiction, madame.
Take the literature and make a frame of it
and from the frame build a page. Thus,
our reading is converted into seeing
like bleeding brushes, sighing for sequence.
Do we agree, in principle? Is it clear? But take
the visual art and make a blank gutter
and from the gutter project a reading
beyond the pages. Thus, our knowing
unbound by words, indulged at last
is equally converted into seeing
girning like growlixes. And seeing for seeing
reading for reading, madame,
our origin story unfolds.

(After Wallace Stevens)

The Unwritten: Apocalypse #2

Standard

UnwrittenApoc2

Synopsis
In the ruins of a post-literary world, Richie and Lizzie go in search of their lost friend Tom Taylor. But to find him, they’ll have to venture into the most dangerous place on Earth: London.

Story
If in the previous issue, the first of this ‘second volume’ of The Unwritten, the story was focused on Tom Taylor’s resurrection and return to the so-called, apparently-so real world, The Unwritten: Apocalypse #2 is about what happened to that world in Tom’s absence. And so we return to the rest of the cast, now comprising vampire/journalist Richie Savoy, word-made-flesh Lizzie Hexam, true Tommy fans Cosi and Leon Chadron, an aside on Mr. Armitage, stuck in a limbo of his own, and devious demiurge Wilson Taylor himself.
The latter, and the initial sequence he is a part of, is the section that stands out the most in terms of re-setting the whole story: Mike Carey (and Peter Gross) drop the readers into a ‘post-literary world’  – possibly my new favourite concept – giving very little clue as to what has actually happened, other than “all worlds are now this one”. All of them. Reality and fiction(s) are all one and the same, and navigating through it takes more than just a map.
Carey shows some great knowledge, research and humour in deploying the secondary literary characters in the issue, and carefully re-establishes and shows off Lizzie’s true nature and powers, along with the children’s unwavering faith and strength deriving from it. Never forgetting Taylor’s meddling, tentacled words.

Art
Peter Gross shows off his storytelling, too, through some truly excellent panel work and composition throughout the whole issue. From the Prologue’s twisting borders, to the full page scenes with panels contained and scattered within them, the story Carey’s words tell is captured and ordered (if at all possible). Horrors and references to other artwork are abundant in the panels, creating the shattered scenery of the ‘post-literary’ reality
Colouring duties are split between regular Chris Chuckry and Lee Loughridge (whose work I believe is in the Prologue, splendidly dark with one candle as the sole source of light), and is impressively executed: shifting from the greyness of London to the muted warmth of parchment fire and the character’s clothes, we get a constant dusty feeling about the new reality. Todd Klein had a busy time with the lettering, with a handful of soundwords taking place in later sequences, but mostly flipping between chapter headings, Taylor’s typing, and the odd flying cat meowr.
The cover is, as always, Yuko Shimizu’s creation. And it’s stunning, with its lack of background and triumphant, powerful Lizzie standing among the seeds and thoughts of fiction, ejected from the Book – the cause of the end of the world, and the only thing that can keep it alive.

Thoughts (May Contain Spoilers)
The issue does not feel as mind-bendingly and blindingly complex or powerful as the first one, but rather is used to set the scene, and the world in which the series might (unless even more things happen in the first page of #3) take place, in a very careful and twisted way. It can be a slow burner, but by the third read I appreciated all the nuances I could get out of both the artwork and the literary references in the writing. It’s nice to see 17th century literature in a contemporary piece of work, and the conceptual framework is extremely intriguing. A world – all the worlds have just ended and conflated into one; there is bound to be chaos. And there is, indeed, and with it ink and bleeding borders, a seemingly unrelated prologue, and shattered words on the page. Proceed with caution.

The Unwritten: Apocalypse #2 is now available in shops and digitally here.

NaPoWriMo Day 13 – Canvas

Standard

Stepping back, brush in hand.

flurry of yellow in the corner
possibility of light
jagged edges of green brown
soil lower brim
softer greyscale diffused
towards upper limit

slashed the white field

stroke with black linings
visible spectrum expanding
reaching sidelines overflowing
shapes regular irregular
familiar scatterings
pigment splashed

turning background forward
perspective shifting
aligning abstract signs
concrete graphics immaterial
uncertain representation

Stepping back, brush on canvas.

NaPoWriMo 3 – New Comic Book Day

Standard

What will it be this time?
As you trundle down the streets
you hold tight onto the change
you fought so long to have:
dishes were washed,
rubbish carried out,
rooms tidied and cleaned,
you even looked after your sister.
Small prices to pay for the prize.

What will it be this time?
As you trundle down the streets
you mentally check the pile
it took so long to have:
hiding, under the bed,
number after number,
in a bag, in a box,
away from your sister.
A small but prized possession.

What will it be this time?
The King will send you
on journeys through galaxies
and titans, worlds of wonder.
The Man will send you
on truly believable adventures
in cities full of problems.
The Mage will send you
to the realm of dreams
and creatures and things.

What will it be this time?
Your mind swarms
with caped crusaders and men of steel
Amazonian princesses and walking dreams
mutants and spiders and lightning
robots and monsters and aliens
…almost giddy, you open the door.

What will it be this time?
Bell rings, smile on your face,
you walk by the wall of wonders,
and stop at the counter almost too tall
for your arms to reach.

‘Sorry kid, shipment’s late.
Try this time next week.’