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Comics and Me

So, it’s my first blog for Skull & Heart! I’m going to be talking about a few of my favourite things in the next week or so, from video-games to movies, and some of the people who I admire and always look forward to seeing new work from. Basically stuff that excites me and feeds into my work!

But first, Comics. Comics have always played a massive part in my life, when I was younger it was TMNT, Sonic the hedgehog and my dads old Superman and Batman comics that he had hoarded away. I would pore over them and re-read the stories again and again whilst the pages fell apart at the spine. The idea of these worlds that were not bound by reality fascinated me. A lot of my first drawings as a kid were of superheroes and weird creatures, looking back it’s fascinating to see how all that fed into the artist I am today. As I moved into my teenage years I started to discover the HUGE worlds that Marvel and DC had created. Slowly but surely I found my place in the arms of Marvel, and I would read anything and everything they produced. The X-Men were my go to guys, and throughout the 90’s they ruled (even though at the time Marvel was dying a slow death, comics were not the hot property they are today)

Comics are somewhat of an obsession now for me. It’s a good time to be a comic book fan, the movies are dominated by adaptations and re-imaginings of these worlds and characters. Here’s some of my favorite comic book series and what makes them so awesome.

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Preacher, art by Glenn Fabry, Vertigo.

PREACHER 1995-2000

Preacher was the comic book series that blew my mind. Written by Garth Ennis and illustrated by Steve Dillon. It took what comics were to me and threw it all out the window. For the first time I was reading a self contained story that had an end in sight, at 75 issues running from 1995-2000 its relatively short in the world of comic series. It wasn’t a big world filled with mutants and superheroes and monsters. It was a quasi-real world, where a fed up preacher gets possessed by a supernatural angel/creature and essentially becomes the most powerful man in existence. He then goes on a journey across the USA to literally find God and talk to him. Along the way he’s joined by an Irish Vampire, battles several fallen angels, tackles his own redneck family and battles the church. Its adult, its grim, its funny, its poignant, but overall its just plain well written and as an 18 year old it blew my mind.  Not to mention the gorgeous covers to each issue by Glenn Fabry. Today it stands up incredibly well, and its currently being adapted into an AMC series. I cant freaking wait.

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The Boys, art by Darick Robertson, Dynamite/Wildstorm.

THE BOYS 2006-2012

The Boys is another Garth Ennis  property. To talk about the boys and its plot is tough, it’s convoluted, somewhat messy and yet I always found myself coming back to it. It tells the story of a world where superheroes exist, but have the egos and faults that we often see in celebrity culture. They make mistakes, BIG mistakes. And The Boys are a CIA funded super powered group there to keep them in check. It’s a bloody mess of a tale, and it’s not a happy one. But if you want something to give you an alternative look at superhero culture, then The Boys is a good place to start. See also Black Summer and No-Hero from Warren Ellis for a similar take on superhero’s and their flaws.

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Kick Ass, art by John Romita Jr, Icon Comics.

KICK ASS 2008-Ongoing

I love Kick Ass. What started as a small 8-issue run became one of the hugest properties out there and it threw Mark Millar right into comic book stardom. It’s the idea we all have at some point, of donning an outfit and becoming a hero in the real world. Deep down, its not that realistic of course, but it does mean that characters do just…die, and then the remaining characters have to deal with the consequences. John Romita Jr’s artwork is fabulous and just sings off the page, its so vibrant and bold, reading anything illustrated by him is a pleasure. The movie adaptations were good, but there are some fundamental changes that I didn’t like. One being the reason for Hit Girls training, its WAY more screwed up in the comics, and not just a  father cop bent on revenge, I wont spoil it, just do yourself a favour and read the original Comics.

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Justice League, art by Jim Lee, DC

THE NEW 52  2011

Can I put an entire Publisher wide reboot in here? DC decided to reboot their ENTIRE comic book line a couple of years ago, and take everything they published under their main DC umbrella back to issue no.1. They did this with the massive comic event Flashpoint where ‘The Flash’ essentially reset the DC universe. Why do that? It meant people could jump on at the start and not need to have 50 years of comic book continuity knowledge to understand who this villain was, or why this minor character was important. For me it was a fantastic starting point. I grew up with Marvel comics, so for me this was a great starting point to tackle DC comics. I could jump on with Batman issue no.1 and get straight into the amazing Court of Owls storyline by Scott Snyder, which brought mystery back into the world of batman and Gotham City. Or Grant Morrison’s fantastic run on Action Comic’s which showed us a young Superman struggling with who he was. A great move by DC, and one that made me a huge fan of a lot of their properties again.

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American Vampire- art by Rafael Albuquerque, Vertigo.

AMERICAN VAMPIRE 2010-Ongoing

I remember looking at American Vampire in forbidden planet and thinking, screw that, I don’t want to read a Twilight inspired vampire story. But then I kept hearing good things, so I gave it a go. I couldn’t have been more wrong. American Vampire is a beautiful and fantastic story written by Scott Snyder, it takes the idea of vampires and creates a whole new mythos and world for them to live in. The artwork mainly by Rafael Albuquerque is phenomenal. The book is currently on hiatus, but back soon towards the end of the year. Just a beautiful tale all round.

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Slaine, art by Simon Bisley, 2000AD.

SLAINE / JUDGE DREDD 1983 / 1977

Slaine and Judge Dredd sit here together as they are intrinsically linked for me, coming from the true British institution that is 2000 AD, the premier publishers of comics in the UK. Slaine and Judge Dredd were for some reason two of the comics that I could find in my local library when I was a kid of around 10-15. I have no idea why, as they are way too violent for a kid to be reading, but there they sat next to Tintin and Asterix (which I also read of course). For me as a kid they were filled with amazing artwork, and I couldn’t believe people could do this as a living, creating these amazing pieces of artwork and writing stories in these fantastic worlds. The artwork ingrained in my brain the most was that of Simon Bisley. He has this amazing way of painting each panel, no digital trickery or Wacoms here, just pure talent. Bisley is the real deal.

So there you go, some of my favourite comic series out there! Others to check out in the same vein… The Walking Dead, Y-The Last Man, Bedlam, Punisher Max, Crossed, Supergod, Ex Machina, DMZ, Locke & Key, Old Man Logan and Kingdom Come.