Sunday, 28 February 2016

Paul Coker Jr.

I loved the work of Paul Coker Jr. whenever it appeared in Mad. It was maybe easy to not notice how great he was, him being surrounded by people like Don Martin, Mort Drucker, Sergio Aragones and the rest of the usual gang of idiots.
But he might actually be my favourite Mad artist of them all. He's a master cartoonist and animator, with a style I can't get enough of. So here's some of my favourites of his.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

H.P. Lovecraft At Marvel

Anyone who's read any H.P. Lovecraft knows that trying to adapt him to another medium is a fool's errand. The whole point of his work, even more than any other horror writer, is that the reader imagines, and sees for themself, the terrors in Lovecraft's stories. And make no mistake, Lovecraft IS terrifying.
So that, when someone else imagines it for you, it's a bit of a letdown. It's like Stephen King said in Danse Macabre: The creature behind the door is always scarier than when the door opens and you actually see it. Y'know, it's only a seven foot monster with dripping fangs, I thought it'd be a twenty foot monster with dripping fangs...
That didn't stop those pesky armadillos up at Marvel from giving it a go though, in this trio of tales from Journey Into Mystery and Tower Of Shadows. And if you have to chalk something up to 'noble failure' then it's best to give Tom Palmer, Gene Colan & Berni Wrightson the chalk.
None of which is to say these strips are anything less than wonderful, but by their nature, they can only ever show a glimpse of just why ol' H.P. is so soul crushingly, head fuckingly, mind crunchingly horrifying.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Comanche Moon

Comanche Moon is a wonderful historical graphic novel that really belongs in everyone's collection.
Published by Last Gasp in 1979, it's the true story of Cynthia Ann Parker, a white girl kidnapped and raised by Comanche's, and her son Quanah, who grows to become the last chief of the tribe.
Underground artist Jack Jackson had tackled the history of his home state of Texas before, in strips like Nits Make Lice ( Slow Death #7 ), but this was a quantum leap forward from that early, explicitly violent underground classic.
The mood is objective, rather than sensationalist, and any violence happens offscreen. It does take a while to get used to the distance Jaxon has here as a writer, as he deliberately doesn't get inside these real people's heads, but instead presents the facts just as they happened.
A neat idea also is how the characters occasionally talk in modern day slang, as well as commenting wryly on the narration above their heads, making this anything but a dry history lesson.
Plus Cynthia ( renamed Naduah by her new family ) and Quanah can't help but be fascinating characters, and Comanche Moon is literally unputdownable from start to finish. If there's any fault, it's that the sweep is sometimes too vast to follow, but you're always brought back to Quanah, and his incredible life story.
As an artist too, Jaxon approaches John Severin in places here, in terms of realism and feel for his subject.
He also somehow gives the indian characters' completely expressionless faces real expression and emotion throughout.
Here's the first couple of chapters as a teaser. You'll want to read on..