Sunday, October 5, 2008

Light Reading

Yeah...I "reaffirm" my commitment to this thing (and writing in general)...and then I don't touch it for 2 days. Brilliant. But then, weekends are a bad time for that, anyway; it's normally a 24-hour workweek and whatever time is left over is reserved for Lee Ann and the kids (especially when Julian is here, like he is now sitting next to me).

Aye, well. I've been spending some time reading (or, "research", as I call it). In coming up with ideas for "Electric Kingdom" and looking to get it finally off the ground, I've been studying other books and stories. Oddly enough, Daryl (out in Utah, who I got to talk to for the first time in a long while last night) has been doing the same thing, only with films. Finding old, obscure movies that maybe a handful people have ever heard of and watching them to pick up on story flow, transitions, things. Just studying the medium a little bit.

I've been doing the same thing (and we both got a kick out of that when I told him), only with comics. I happened to find my some of my older comics last weekend and dove into stuff I haven't read in a long time, if ever: "Thriller" (which I'd never read in its entirety before a week and a half ago), "Crystar" (which I coulda sworn was a comic based on a toy line, but apparently it was the other way around), and "Atari Force" (ah, the good ol' days of the first video game explosion).

"Thriller" (no relation to Michael Jackson whatsoever) was an odd series, but one that I thought was pretty cool. Not too big on Trevor Von Eeden's art (at least in this book)...come to think of it, the whole style of the book (even with Alex Nino involved in the latter issues) was a little muddy. Hard to tell what was going on. I'm all for stylized art if it's done well; heck, Bill Sienkiewicz (yes, I had to copy-and-paste that - I can pronounce it but not spell it) did it all the time and he's one of my favorite artists ever. But here, I understand "Thriller" was an espionage/action story with a little of the supernatural thrown in to keep us off-balance and that the art was meant to convey that. A lot of times, it did. It also made the story hard to follow, though - which, I would think, you don't want to happen to your work no matter what field it may be in.

"Crystar", as previously mentioned, was a comic created for marketing purposes. In the first few issues, that's painfully evident. As the book wore on, however, it got much better; the characters were well-fleshed out (if somewhat stereotypical) and writer Jo Duffy emoted their causes and motivations well. Bret Blevins was a decent artist, but Ricardo Villamonte really let the characters hit their visual stride. All in all, not bad. One thing that burned me was, in looking up the book online, not one mention is made of Malachon, a character introduced later on who would become the main bad guy even out-shining Moltar as well as an excellent villain overall.

"Atari Force", even though the only one here properly born from a licensing agreement, is easily the best book out of the three here. Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and, later, Eduardo Barreto were the perfect artists for this kind of off-beat sci-fi action. Those two and writers Gerry Conway and Mike Baron seemed rather interested in making "Atari Force" more than a vehicle for selling games, and they more than accomplished that goal. In the last issue, then-Editor Andrew Helfer explained that the characters and their respective stories had just run their course and the time had come to let them leave their own story. Seeing as how the end of the book seems a little rushed, I don't know how much stock to put in that explanation because I could easily envision further adventures of the Force as they search for Old Earth.

There's more reading to do as well. I check out Graphic Novels and trade collections from the library at the rate of 4-20 at a time. Today was only 4, simply because I've read most of what our branch has already. Got vol. 01 of Alex Ross's "Justice", a Superman/Doomsday collection I've wanted to read for a while, as well as one each from the X-Men and Spider-Man to catch up on their more recent stories. Yeah, I've read this stuff all my life and I still enjoy them. Now I can claim another purpose - that of creating one of my own.

No comments: