You know, I wasn’t going to stick an exclamation mark on the end of the title to this entry, but it just seemed so right – especially when you look at virtually every single word balloon in 1960s comic books, and their predecessors’.
Funnily enough, I dispense with ’em mostly in the comic book scripts I write – it can look cheesy, I agree – but the odd use can be fun.
Anyway, punctuation aside, next week sees the publication and release of episode one of Magpie, the quarterly eight-page comic I’m doing with artist Frantz Kantor. Also somewhat quirkily, given how much Frantz toys with the digital medium, it will be in print only (no digital version).
The artwork here is something I hacked together for fun today (so I’m an old Street Fighter video game fan), using a small frame from page one – which demonstrates the depth of detail as well as hilarity in Frantz’s art.
Magpie will be coming out inside the covers of nationally syndicated Australian ‘zine Oi Oi Oi! (here’s the cover, by Alisha Jade; it’s #7).
In Australia you can get it at any newsagency worth its salt (yeah, yeah, I over-use that phrase in postings, but I keep thinking sumo), or alternatively order online directly from Comicoz.
We’ve been scoring some very sweet reviews, including this one from the cool cats at Black Ship Books:
“At its heart, Magpie #1 is a witty observation about the rise of narcissism in the modern world. Frantz Kantor’s artwork is exuberant and stunning… Andrez Bergen crafts a beautifully paced yarn in the tradition of Will Eisner’s The Spirit. He manages the impressive task of introducing a character, establishing a vivid world and concluding a story in one third of the pages utilized by your average comic.”
Mark Dickson at The Green Gorcrow said: “Kantor’s aesthetic continues to sell the feeling that you’re in a world where normal logic no longer applies… I was very surprised by the last two pages in this chapter; it took me until then to realise that something significant was missing from the first part of the story. As it wrapped up, and the reveal fell into place, it showed off an effective way to utilise the format: keeping each story self-contained and focusing on one villain uses the ongoing nature to flash into significant moments in the main character’s life.”
I talked a bit about the process of developing this comic over at Bleeding Cool.
Frantz also had a 15 minute on-air chat with Steve Austin at ABC Radio in Brisbane (listen here), in which he chatted not just about Magpie but his extensive career in Australian comics, and the current state of things there.
We just just got reviewed thanks to two fine people at Comics Should Be Good at Comic Book Resources, and I really like both write-ups; they address pros AND cons, but over all (I think) are positive pieces.
Greg Hatcher put it that, “The story… well, I don’t know that I enjoyed it so much as admired its craft. It’s very well-done, but not exactly uplifting.
“That’s not to say it isn’t good, because it is. And the art, the odd blend of photomontage and collage techniques Bergen uses for this, really knocked me out. I kept getting lost because I was stopping to admire the art just as art.”
Meanwhile, Greg Burgas wrote: “What Bergen does well is take these classic tropes of old fiction and seamlessly blend them with science fiction – he has done it before, and it’s clear he’s comfortable with it, which is why the brevity of the issue isn’t too annoying, as I’m pretty certain everything will become clearer down the road.
“The collage-style artwork is fascinating, too. Bergen freely adopts photographs of old actors – in some panels the CEO is clearly David Niven, and I know I should know who the CEO’s flunkie is, but I can’t quite place him – but he filters them nicely and puts them into hazy black and white to make them fit into the comic better. He uses saturated colors to create hallucinatory panels that help obscure the ‘thieving’ of images but, once again, fit in with the milieu of the comic.
“The collages turn Melbourne into a poisonous nightmare, which is part of the point, and they also help make the noir elements of the comic stand out more.
“Future Melbourne is a weird stew of sleek lines and dingy sleaze, which has been a staple of pulpy stories for decades, and it both puts the book in a context but also signals that it’s something a bit bizarre (I thought of the movie Dark City a bit while reading this, as that movie also blended these elements very well).
“Bergen is making the point that the corporation controls the hearts and minds of the citizens, which isn’t a new point at all, but he does it through the overwhelming artwork as well as through some of the narration, and it’s much more effective to see it visually than read it.”
Anyway, all food for thought, and very much appreciated.
It’s easy to forget, then, that I still have regular monthly comic Trista & Holt coming out, with #13 hitting stands at the beginning of March – meaning only two to go.
#12 got a nice review from Steven Alloway at Fanboy Comics and Paul Bowler at Sci-Fi Jubilee, while Nevada McPherson critiqued #11 here at Graphic Policy. I cannot thank these people enough. Along with Dan at All-Comic, they’ve followed the series from scratch and been supportive and encouraging throughout.
Even better, they seem to get where I’m coming from with the book!
Yep, I’m throwing in an exclamation point for good measure.
Finally – I’m kind of exhausted from writing this self-trumpeting hoo-har, so I can’t begin to imagine how you might feel if you made it this far – there’s a new project I mentioned last entry that I’m bloody excited about.
It’s a new comic called Crash Soirée, in which I’m co-creator/writer with fellow Australian artist Graeme Jackson.
You can follow process/progress via the Facebook link in the title (above), but working with Graeme is downright exciting as much as it is fun and enlightening.
We just finished working up the profile for principle protagonist Calamity Jane, and here’s the character reference he finished today.
More info in coming weeks. Otherwise, rest those damned eyes!