Influence of modern comics

16 Jun

By Ayo

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DeathZone!
By Michel Fiffe, after John Ostrander, Kim Yale, Luke McDonnell
DC Comics property, Fiffe tribute.
1988, DC; 2012, Fiffe
Essay by Tucker Stone

This sixteen-page comic is based on an old Suicide Squad comic that Michel Fiffe liked. This isn’t an homage, it’s a cover. Based on the description, it appears to be an abridged cover of the 1988 story–at sixteen pages, it’s much shorter than the three issue span that Fiffe’s notes cite. Anyway that’s technical.

The first thing that this comic does is introduce all of the characters from the story and indicate who created and co-created them. Shot one at DC Comics.

The last thing that the comic does is enlist critic Tucker Stone to write an essay about Suicide Squad that is both complimentary and condemnation.

Those are the inside covers. Now the meat of the comic is something special.

If you are familiar with Michel Fiffe’s comic Zegas, you will know his facility with multimedia. Fiffe combines traditionally inked line art with pencil pages and colored pages that appear to be watercolor. He also colors with colored pencil and computer programs. As the story’s location or tone shift, so do Fiffe’s working methods. The result is a visually lively sequence of images that avoids the appearance of arbitrary whimsy.

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This comic begins with two panels that I particularly like: Deadshot shooting Rustam with a ricochet shot. I like the first panel’s drawing of Deadshot and I like the scaly armor texture of Rustam’s leggings. That sort of texturing is something that I’m experimenting with in my own work and so it’s is fantastic to see it done in such a way by another artist.

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Another panel that makes me happy is Duchess machine-gunning Manticore on page 5. Fiffe’s confidence with that machine gun gives lie to most of the firearms that I see in comic book art. It’s a thing of beauty. Cartoonists tend to be unconfident about machines and so I have a lot of love for when someone pulls off a believable complex tool.

All in all, this comic works in the same way that indie bands doing covers of classic rock songs work. It showcases the quality of the less-known artist by showing audiences their take on something familiar. That DeathZone! goes a step further and hoists up the full list of creators in this tribute adds yet another layer: the original Suicide Squad influenced Fiffe but he doesn’t uncritically accept DC Comics’ treatment of the many creators.

It’s a good balance.

@darrylayo

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