Monthly Archives: January 2013

Rob Liefeld

I looooove these.  The horizontal layouts, with insane flat color combinations—and then I love how on that third page those last two panels on the top section arrow down into Deadpool’s face.

I also love that middle panel on the first page of Cable looking all Blade Runnery with that x-ing light pattern behind him.

Contemporary coloring techniques would absolutely ruin these pages.  I love these gaudy extreme color combinations and how they are working the mood.  Remember when Marvel re-released that X-men #1 from Lee and Claremont and re-colored it with shitty gradients and shit—yeah…I think they had this stuff right the first time.  Let’s go back to this.

Crepax, Valentina

Time stutters, stops, starts again, rewinds, zooms in—beautiful to watch.  And the way those chopped panels set off the longer beautiful panels.  You don’t even need a full splash page to get that effect—you can almost make it more dramatic on the same page—because any sort of large jump in time either backwards or forwards in a big enough panel, coming after this stutter effect is going to read pretty huge.

I also like how in the first panel of the second page here(I’ve cropped both of these pages to focus on the part I like the most)—the bars of the bed frame and how they tease you with the notion of the panel frame

Sergio Toppi is one of my big artistic influences.  Which is to say he is for me one of the hardest riddles for me to crack.  Which is to say, that there is a language within what he does, that I am trying to find my own words to describe his language to myself.  An influence is at it’s most apparent in this stage of figuring it out.  Once you figure out what the work says to you, and why it is powerful to you, you can find your own words to speak with–your own lines begin to come through.  This is what is meant by Lone Wolf and Cub–which is most certainly my art school of choice–when you see the buddha on the road, kill the buddha.  Influence is meant to be taken apart, wrecked, and defeated.
So the reason someone like Toppi or Schiele are so apparent in my work is because they present the most difficulties for me in surpassing, and in understanding why them and not some other artist–why aren’t I trying to draw like Jim Lee–like everyone else who read superhero comics growing up when I did?

So I’m going to try this by attacking Toppi’s masterwork Sharaz-De, which thanks to Archaia Press, is also the first Toppi book I’ve read in my native language.  And this is proto-proto what I’ll probably write for a review of Sharaz-De later on.  But I had this whole brain storm today just thinking over Toppi and his influence for me–and had to get it out of me.
The first most obvious thing about Toppi that hits you is the hatching style he uses to render everything.  There are some of the Breccia influenced artists who have a few accents in this direction–but aside from them and maybe some Dino Battaglia–it is a pretty unique feature of Toppi’s work.  The lines are almost so iconic  that the instant you see them you know them.  Why are they so powerful?
I think some if it is inherent to the medium.  I mean on their own in a fine art context, they would still be striking.  But when we are talking about the act of reading a comic, and eyes moving around a page–from one to the next–the control of the eye is even more important in the composition than even it would be in a fine art piece.  Because you are controlling the way your book is read, and affecting hugely the sensation your reader gets.  Like just as my stock example.  Say Toppi and Brandon Graham were in some sort of top chef contest but with pencils and pens–and the secret ingredient was like–turtles and a dude with a hat on–the space Brandon creates with his lines and their clean curvatures–and now with the recent multiple warheads books–these sophisticated light texturing lines on cliffs and backgrounds–the sensation you get looking at his work is space.  Not warm.  But comforting in a way.  They’re like a cool secret handshake with a friend you’ve not seen in ten years.  Your eye moves through his work easily without much interruption–this is the thing–and we’ll let it ride.

Toppi on the other hand is constantly breaking up your sight line.  It’s bombastic angular line on top of bombastic angular line–hating in all directions into these sudden almost violent negative spaces–in just a singular line there is psychosis.  It bends and wriggles and writhes into shapes–inside of shapes–shapes manifest inside of shapes inside of shapes.  And the way this splays out into the hatching is like if you’ve heard a song from the black metal band Blut Aus Nord(which go listen to one of their songs to see what I’m talking about).  Toppi’s hatching is this layering of insane line riff under insane line riff–Schiele lines on top of Schiele lines creating Klimt collages(Sienkiewicz, yeah?).

The mastery at play here though is that in every time he approaches a new figure or shape to hatch–it is like he is learning a new song.  Each one is different and like it’s own individual snowflake to a degree that goes beyond the simple rendering purposes of most hatching.  Each figure has their own hatch pattern–it’s so beautiful and perfect–it’s like the unrepeatability of color and light dappling onto a stream.  There’s never the same ripple–even if the sensation is still that you are using the same elements of light, dark, and stream.  So every line is a choice–but with Toppi the choice is the combination of a grandmaster who is allowing his subconscious to know what is right.  He knows this box of lines next to that box of lines is right at this angle and not that angle–and you know he knows–because it fucking works.

But okay.  Is just the hatching?  If it were then why is Sharaz-De the masterwork, and not some of his also excellent Collector series?  Both of these works use the same hatching styles to a lot of the same dramatic effect.  And don’t get me wrong–I will write more on just the hatching–because there are elements of just that which I think are part of the mystery.  But I think Sharaz-De stands out as the greatest manifestation of Toppi’s art–and that is even though other works of his have the same hatching style.

What Sharaz-De does different than say the Collector series–and I think this is also something that makes his work Tanka stand out above the rest as well–and that is his eschewing of traditional paneling as his primary comic storytelling technique.  And I’m going to say that with the caveat that I don’t think Sharaz-De eschews paneling at all.  In fact, the one way it does emply panels when it employs them–long rectangular panels cutting against the grain–and then working in their own interior directions–their power comes from how sparingly they are used–by not using traditional paneling sequences–he calls even more attention to the panel when he uses it.  But anyway let’s just say–what we conventionally understand as paneling he tosses.  What we generally understand comics to be is a sequence of panels containing or not containing information to create the sensation of time.

In this way we can see comic panels like piano keys.  You push this one, it makes this sound.  You push this one, it makes that sound.  You put this panel next to this panel–it produces this sensation of time.  And then you dictate rhythm on the page by fiddling with the order, shape, and composition within and without the panels.  See also: Crepax.

By creating the space between two panels(the gutter, scott mccloud?) we create the space that allows the reader’s imagination to take hold, and for the magic of comics to take effect.  So what is Toppi doing in getting rid of such a reliance on panels?  Well where most creators are playing Piano.  Let’s say Crepax is Theolonious Monk in this comparison.  Toppi is Skip James(Ghost World reference, WHAT!?)–bending the notes.  Time distorts on a Toppi page–and the amount of time your eye spends on a given space is dictated by it’s importance–not just the space of time that is holding within the narrative.  This is where Toppi’s hatching style comes back into play–because now that he is playing without a rigid paneling net underneath him–the hatching density and angles are dictating the time and the rhythm of your read.

And this puts him in an interesting spot in terms of his composition.  Because if he were using standard paneling techniques–he could grid in horizontal sequences.  But without the panels there–if Toppi were to use the same rules you would apply for a 9-panel grid–it would be impossible for you to read(like Bachalo’s Steampunk–ha(your mom(I love Bachalo)).  So that’s one restriction in place from get.  And then you have to think about that most readers when they turn the page–their eye is going to start on one of the corners of the page depending on if they are used to reading manga or western comics.  So in this case the top left corner.  So he knows that he has to have angularity to his composition AND he knows he is starting in the top left corner with his readers.

These limitations are what create the tension and brilliance of Sharaz-De(see how in the above image, he uses the white diagonal space to push you to the top right corner and then the hatching stops you at the kiss–before stuttering you down the page until you hit the bottom left corner–feel the relief he creates with that final white space at the bottom and how that informs how you feel about the character of Sharaz-De–cool freaking stuff).  He is constantly playing with the diagonal line, and the natural reading motions of western readers.  Sometimes he can fight against that grain to slow you down on a page–sometimes he can trick you into cascading right–before ripping you across to the left of the page.  These are tensions that most comic artists don’t even really have to work with to this degree because of the degree to which you can bend panels(again: see crepax).  A really cool comparison actually is Crepax’s Anita Live books he did in the 80s–which also wrestle with these diagonals–with the added tension of trying to play with traditional Crepax paneling habits.

But anyways–what I’m saying is that I think the power that Sharaz-De gets artistically comes a lot from the fact that this is the perfect page design for Toppi’s line.  Which I don’t think is a consideration most artist’s even get to have in their life time.  And I don’t really know that Toppi stuck with this style much after Sharaz-De–I know Tanka is like this.  But I’ve seen later works of his where he’s gone back to a more formal panel structure–there is I think probably less stress in that format–but the marriage of these two things are I think why Sharaz-De works to a great extent.

But while that is itself interesting in talking about just Sharaz-De–even Toppi’s lesser works still speak to me and are a big part of why I obsess over him.  The first Toppi art I ever saw was paneled and colored work.  I can’t remember off hand the name of the work I saw–because it was just a page.

But I do think the discussion of hatching, line, and composition get to another powerful aspect of Toppi’s work which is present in all of his work–which is the creation of negative space.  It is almost an obsession of his work–and kind of ironic that he throws so many lines on the page–just so you can hear the lines he doesn’t.  I think that’s how irony works anyways.  I grew up on Alanis Morrissette more than Romeo and Juliet.

It’s such a fascinating aspect of his work–because at the end of the day–do you define a Toppi page by it’s lines or it’s spaces?  Is the page where he is–or where he has shown us he is not?  Of course even in the empty spaces he’s there–because he’s created them–but it’s really interesting–and a lot of the dynamics for creating those negative spaces play into his style.  For negative space to work at it’s most powerful on a comic page–you need to create the impact of that space.  Otherwise you’re just an artist with clean lines.  Toppi with his violent volcano of shapes and lines distracts your eye–takes control of your eye before plowing it into these sudden quiet and dramatic spaces.  His negative spaces are almost ecstatic in that way.  They produce in you a little bit of sublime awe.  Just in their construction

So what is speaking to me in Toppi?  Looking at this it’s a few things.  I can see the shared line psychosis that Schiele has–a line which on the human form attacks and contorts in almost nightmarish ways–creating an otherness of the body–that is something that is within my transgender experience and the attendant body issues of both being transgender and being a woman in such an image conscious society.  I see myself in those lines.  And I also like them objectively–because of the way that they communicate psychosis–for me all work is personal–and even if the story isn’t–my line is–and that’s true for everyone drawing–but some lines call attention to this–some don’t.  In this line I can see some of my own story.  But if it were just the line dynamics –I mean I can read that pretty quickly as Schiele/Klimt–in the same way that I enjoy Aeon Flux–but I’m not inspired by it or anything.  Me and Peter Chung just have a similar battle going on with Schiele.  Grandmaster takes on all comers from beyond the grave.

It is also that negative space.  Or that rendering breaks down into shapes when you zoom in enough on it–and I want to explore that nature of shapes within shapes.  The internet as a system of tubes–someit like that–ha.  No, but I think that shapes are interesting to me in this function because I spend so much time looking in mirrors watching my own shape contort and change depending on my mind state–and so I don’t see things as rigid in their construction.  I see them as loose and ever changing.  Floating squares–floating spaces of line and light.

I’d like to find the space between the logical conclusion of Toppi–which is I think abstract shapes conveying pure consciousness–and the edge of comprehensible storytelling.  Or at least that’s what Toppi’s influence means for me.

He’s also dope at character design.

These are all from Sergio Toppi.  The first one from one of the Collector stories.  The last two from Sharaz-De which is available in English in a beautiful hardcover edition from Archaia–who will also be putting out the Collector stuff at some point as well.

A lot of Toppi’s stuff works off of this diagonal and the tension between the hatching and the negative space it creates

In Shiraz De he keeps the diagonal but moves away from using panels much—because with his style there is really no need for panels.  He can dictate the time of the page just with his rendering techniques moving characters in and out of foregrounds—changing their sizes.

As you see here.  The diagonal isn’t quite as pronounced—but I mean you can see it.  There’s actually a few diagonals working there.  But you can also see how at this point of his career he is accomplishing the same storytelling magic of say crepax with his abundance of panels—without any.  The panels are implied, because they are in the end just time markers—and Toppi is denoting time solely through composition and his approach to hatching(also note that directionally because of the diagonals, he creates extra tension in these images by the degrees in which his hatching goes with or against that diagonal flow–if I knew anything about Jazz I’d compare it to Jazz).

I find the tension between these two approaches in my own layouts.  But it’s really not a tension is it?  These aren’t opposites.  In both cases you’re just talking about the artist’s ability to convey time—and what is the most dynamic way for them to accomplish that.

One of my favorite things that Crepax does, and one of say the five things that most looms over how my pages layout are these vertical strips of panels running down the side of larger panels —or running underneath them—it’s not just that they are there—but they run at a different rhythm to the rest of the page—they are like the flickering of a film strip that is about to break—it’s like fft fft fft—and then big image like fffshhhhh.  I love that sort of stuttered lurching interior rhythm of the page.

It’s like sort of watching your twitter feed crawl through your phone in one eye, while a movie is playing in the other.  Which I just find intensely modern.  I think when Crepax was doing it he was obviously sort of referencing film—but I think that multimedia rhythm still feels like NOW now.  It’s like music and you’re dragging a part of the page.  I like it a lot.

There’s a slight flip on this that you see in stuff like(I mean everywhere, but I’m just talking about artists I read a shit ton) Taiyo Matsumoto where he’ll go x, x, x, monkey face, x—I think it’s related to that act structure for narrative that Ales Kot posted a few weeks back where you have thing that’s happening, complete other thing, end—as opposed to conflict leads into this leads into this—hollywood filmaking spellbound typa approach.    In some ways these out of time strips work like that, without being per se haiku or non-sequitar or whatever.

There’s a great spot in Change #1 by Kot, Jeske, Leong, Brisson where things pop off and you’re about to get a bunch of action and it breaks into this lower bracket of smaller panels that are sort of chaotic but make sense too.  I dunno, that’s like a lesson that film learned in the 60s and 70s, and fine art before that—but you don’t see it played with quite as much in western comics.

I’m rambling.  But yeah—Crepax is the master.  I find it really useful to vacillate between looking at how Crepax does pages and how Brandon Graham does pages—because they are almost opposite approaches—one is very much about the primacy of the panel and the rhythms and angels of moving through panels—where I think Graham is a master of the page itself and space.  He can make a single page feel so expansive—you’ll get this whole open page—and then that smaller bank of panels sort of riffing on the page itself—especially in his multiple warheads work of late—you’re sort of seeing rhythms and ways of seeing pages that are pretty revelatory and game changing.  I play with that stuff and then a lot of montage/collage time stuff within panels which the only other person in comics I can really look to who is also playing THAT game is Emma Rios.

And then sometimes I just jack my page compositions from Basquiat paintings because I think the way those use space and words are super useful in terms of keeping myself from getting to micro on a page—he forces me to look at the page as a whole, as a singular entity.

It kind of sucks too though, because when you are really locked in on these rhythms and creative ways of using space on the page—there’s a whole bank of comics out there that it’s like you have to come out of space just to read them.  I think Ales Kot was saying on twitter the other day about flipping out about reading a comic where someone was just flat out wasting space.  I can sort of agree with that.  There are so many possibilities, but for a variety of reasons there’s a lot of very rote comics.

I mean that’s something you can’t really fault the image founder guys—I was looking at this Deathlok spidey Erik Larsen comic I had when I was a kid, I was looking at it the other day and there is no way an editor at either of the big two would let a comic hit the shelves with layouts like this.  Those extreme comics were playing around constantly with layouts and composition.  Characters were popping out of panels.  There’s Liefeld pages where a character is completely removed from panels that are only really there as strange texture.  It’s crazy.  Larsen was on twitter the other day saying one of the editors for one of the big two had a rule about artists having to keep their characters inside of the panel boundaries—which is such a hysterically wrong rule for specifically superhero comics.

I mostly just wanted to write about that Crepax layout though.  But I pretty much spend every hour of my day thinking and rethinking about these things—and it’s probably like five artists I’m going to end up talking about if I talk about comics long enough.  But I’m just saying.  Rob Liefeld X-force comics are the realest thing.  That was the premise of this I think.

Oh I also have those old Sam Keith Wolverine stories.  Sam Keith is someone no one including me pay enough attention to.  Not that I am.  I’m reading Dungeon while noodling on a draft of a huge Change review.  That’s what I’m about.

The thing that is keeping me up late at night on Blaise Larmee comics is that there is something liberating there in how those comics feel to be read—but it is so damn fragile, that trying to pick it up to look at it, and put it next to your favorite Sergio Toppi, Crepax comics—breaks it.

But there’s something in it that I need to learn, because there’s some sort of riddle to the way it works that could break this knot of influences I’m accumulating and allow my comics to be what they need to be.  The strength in something like Hecate Snake Diaries—is in that intangible thing that is I think in all of my work—but that I’m not yet in touch with yet fully.

I’ve said it twice this week—but my twitter timeline has become at times the realest art experience I’ve had in awhile.  There’s a playlist of twitter profiles that I have queued up everyday—that I read in a particular sequence—and it’s a game changer everyday.  There’s something in that and Blaise Larmee comics that means something to me—that is anti-abstract—that is pure and gut punching.

Right now it’s this two minds thing, where there’s the way I want to make comics and then there’s the kind of comics I want to make—and those two things aren’t yet in concert.

When I read Young Lions on my kindle, the page won’t take up the full screen, or enlarge—so it sits off center and to the left—when I read it I’m also thinking about Al Columbia and Pim and Francie—and how the the rhythms of these two books are so similar—and then I’m thinking about how porn comics work.  This is the brain soup I want to pull my work out of/through—the way all of these things work, is for me the truest way to tell my stories, which are predominantly horror stories.  Actually check that.  All of my comics are horror stories.  Horror is the only reaction that can adequately explain my relation and perspective through the world.  So those are the stories I want to tell.  But to tell them properly I have to evolve my own tongue and my own language.  Otherwise what is the point?  All great horror is beholden to none that came before.  Cries and Whispers is a horror film, Nightmare on Elm Street remake is not.  This isn’t derogatory.  It’s not even true.

But there’s the moment at the end of cries and whispers where after everything that is happened—we are treated to this idyllic scene of these three women swinging on a swing together, laughing—the camera zooms in on one of the women who is doing a voice over about how happy this moment is and how perfect it is—and it is terrifying.  I’ve seen the movie so many times, but that scene still made me curl up inside when I watched it.

The point is, do you think Bergman approached that as anything but his own?

My thinking on storytelling is still too compartmentalized.  See also Alphaville.

So maybe that’s what some of what I get from reading a Blaise comic is that notion that my thinking is still bound.

This is how I’m going to start writing about comics.

For the longest time whenever I would tell people I make comics, and I mean this happens in any kind of storytelling, people always follow up with: “what kind?” by which they mean what pee-established genre that they understand and have reference to do you work in.  And for awhile, I didn’t really know how to describe what I do.  But the last year or so I’ve come to see myself as a part of horror—every comic I’ve made to this point is in some way attached to horror—and I don’t know why that took me so long to understand and embrace, but that’s what I’m running with going forward.  Steve Niles watch your back.

But so what does that mean to me?  Why horror?  When I say Horror, and when I say I’m interested in it, what does that mean?  Because there’s a lot of different connotations with horror, some good, some bad—though I mean, I don’t really have sophisticated judgements that are going to tell you torture porn horror is somehow lesser than art house maya deren horror films.  I mean, who really cares about that?

No, what interests me about horror is a few things.  First I am interested in it’s perversion of reality.  The slightly askewness of horror, where what appears slightly normal in one light, in another light is completely grotesque.  Horror is the nightmare that you wake up from that you can never explain in summary to someone else why it was terrifying.  It is the sublime manifestation of the sub-conscious mind.  It’s the mind hacking of reality.  It is pure aesthetic mind diamond shards—blood coming out of your ears—that kind of thing.

For me, horror is a deeply personal experience as well.  My relation to horror comes from a molotov cocktail of clinical depression, body dysmorphia issues related both to being transgender and being a woman, coupled with a very strict religious upbringing.  The horror of my body betraying me was something I understood from the get.  The horror of sin and shame—the demons that are created through repression rather than expression.  The paranoia of living under the wrathful all knowing eye of a god you are told explicitly hates you.  For the bulk of my life, I’d say I was at war with both my mind, and my body.  Which actually made me a very late comer to horror.

As a child it was very difficult for me to deal with terror.  I couldn’t watch more than a few minutes of something like The It without being unable to sleep for days.  And with everything else going on, I just ran away from that feeling, because it was too intense to deal with.

But as I’ve gotten older and more used to the intense trauma of living in my own mind—I’ve been more interested in exploring the things that bother me, or cause me to feel the sublime.

It’s from this that my comics come.  I would say even my line is a horror line.  The way I draw people expresses that war with the body that I feel everyday.  And that trippy dream logic of my work that is less concerned with plot or characterization and more interested in the power of aesthetic is also an expression of this.

In this way, I think porn comics and horror comics are very much of the same genre.  When done well, I think you are talking about a comic that is more about hitting an atmospheric point than a particular plot point.  To create something on the page that is of the hidden mind, and to create awe in the reader.  So I study porn comics, the surrealists, fantasy illlustrators from the 20s, and the horror comics of people like Richard Corben and Bernie Wrightson.

Which gets me into Richard Corben and Jan Strnad’s Ragemoor—which the image above is from(long ass irrelevant intros like what).  This was one of the more affecting books I read this year.  It’s one of the few true american horror books I’ve read that are contemporary, and aren’t somehow attached to Mike Mignola.  Stuff like Walking Dead, 30 Days and Nights—and the legion of copycat books they’ve launched—are very good in their own right—but they have a particular obsession with characterization and low-level shock—that I mean—at this point you also see in mainstream superhero titles like Blackest Night.  It’s not bad.  But it’s not what I’m going to remember for years and years.

When I think of the movie Alien, or an HR Giger painting—that is imagery that is beyond characterization and plot—it is moments that are going to terrify me into my dreams.  The drawings of Alfred Kubin have this kind of quality as well.  Ragemoor is in this camp.  Richard Corben is in this camp.

Richard Corben is the guy who when he finally dies, everyone is going to suddenly talk about how great he was, and what a singular entity his art was—so on and so forth—THE GUY IS STILL ALIVE NOW!  He’s still knocking out amazing comics.  Let’s celebrate him NOW!  Corben is one of the true masters of horror in american comics.  The way that he morphs moments and bodies into the grotesque is on a level that makes Cronenburg look like a stepford wife.  You can look at an image from just a panel in a Corben comic and feel horror flying off the page—without a single drop of context or prose.

Fortunately Ragemoor is also pretty well written and concieved.  This is a dark twisted story that is relentlessly dark.  It’s appropriate that it is in black and white and grey—because color in this book as seen on the covers—would just look a little silly by comparison.  Ragemoor is a dirge of shadows and grotesques.  It clutches you in the lizard brain with icy claws that never relent.

There were so many moments reading Ragemoor where I left the narrative in like some weird out of body type experience, and just fell down this demented staircase of stomach churning horror.  This comic is just an endless procession of the horror sublime.

The two most striking images for me, and I think it’s appropriate to discuss a horror comic in these terms, were the lizard panels from above—where that lizard has this like leathery skin—where I was actually like rubbing the page while reading it just to make sure that this wasn’t some sort of dark magic demon ready to lunge off the page.  And the expression—those dark eyes—the way the blood is colored—it is terrifying to me to look at.  The other image occurs toward the end of the book, and it involves the fate of the lone female character in this book Anoria.  Like lesser artists have concieved of this idea—but the way Corben pulls it off—everyone else is just playing in the grotesque—Corben is living in it.

If there is a flaw with Ragemoor incidentally—it’s that even a cursory feminist critique of the book would absolutely rip it apart.  And while I can sympathize with the fact that everyone in the book is messed up and doomed and grotesque—and I can caveat some of what happens to Anoria with that none of it is done for tittiliation—and you are supposed to be horrified for her.  But we’re still looking at a woman who has no agency, who is raped off page twice, and whose only crime by comparison to the rest of the characters in the book is being poor and not white—oh and the one time she actually has sex with someone she wants to have sex with—she and her lover(also not white) are immediately punished.  But I am also not certain that Strnad and Corben haven’t considered this—because the way I think it comes off is somewhat self-conscious of itself—and willing to present this problem which is almost a genre trope in horror for you as the audience to discuss.

The problem you have is that in this genre of story—a lot of the power of ragemoor comes from the complete lack of hope or redemption for everyone involved.  So how do you introduce agency for this woman, when really no other character is allowed agency once they are trapped in Ragemoor.  The castle controls all, and everybody is ostensibly subservient to Ragemoor.  So maybe it is impossible to give her character agency without turning it into a story with a hero and an arc that is obsessed with that.  Our main character as it stands is kind of the lunatic villian of the book—which I think really works.  And I think there is an implicit criticism of the male hero’s notion of ownership over the female supporting character’s body here that is extremely feminist—and quite appropriate given the current fake fan girl culture of misogyny within the comics industry.

So maybe there is just disapointment in that the horror that would happen to this woman in the comic would be rape—considering it pretty much always is rape.  And I mean I should point out, it never explicitly states that she has been raped in the book—but I think the way Corben and Strnad frame what has happened to her certainly implies that.

So at any rate—I think the book has kind of fascinating gender politics going on it—which marks it as a book in 2012 vs. say 1975.

But I mean, I like those complications.  It kicks off an interesting dialogue—that I mean isn’t too dissimilar from the strengths of say the Alien films.

But that stuff is a sideshow too.  If that’s all the book was about, I wouldn’t care about it that much.  With Ragemoor you are talking about a book of pure unfettered raw horror aesthetic by one of the true masters of the medium—with a writer who knows how to put Corben through his paces—without getting in his way.  As a collaboration I think Strrnad and Corben do reach that wonderful spot where you can tell they are comfortable working with one another—and they are to the point where they are bringing out the best in one another—and in an industry where it’s oftentimes just random people working with random people to pay the bills—anytime you read a true collaboration, it’s like coming up for air after almost drowning.

Ragemoor is a shot across the bow of comics.  People should pay attention to this work.  So many wack ass weak attempts at fake horror in movies, in comics, in television—action movies with fake fangs—This is the realness.  That ether, that shit that make your soul burn slow.  Everything else you are reading is adult diapers.

So get with it.