Regular followers of The Kids From Rec. Road will, of course, already know where we're going to find our villain. The rest of you, even if you don't know him, you do know him, if you know what I mean... y'know?
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We're asking: Who's the one character you'd follow anywhere, even if they were assigned your absolute least favourite creative team? We're picking ours. Pick yours. Join in at kidsfromrecroad.blogspot.com
In an age of derivative Barbarians, I think it's fair to say that Claw The Unconquered was probably the most derivative sword and sorcery hero out there. When your first issue is illustrated by Ernie Chan, the man only just behind John Buscema & Alfredo Alcala as artist with most Conan stories under his belt, you're really inviting kids to pick the book up by mistake, thinking they're getting the Cimmerian.
Claw is the rightful king of yadda yadda and instead of a right hand is cursed with a Demon blah blah, is being hunted by a sorcerer because of something something and spends his first 11 issues stealing magic jewels, fighting slimy monsters, rescuing wenches and generally doing everything that Conan does every month.
It's all perfectly acceptable stuff, and everyone involved does a solid, professional job ( scribe David Michelinie, for instance, admirably coping with what must've been a difficult premise ) but there's no energy to any of it, and you sort of sense no one's hearts are really in it. Until the last issue.
Don't get me wrong, Claw #12 is no lost masterpiece, but here Michelinie takes the gloves ( and gauntlet ) off and goes for broke.
Sure, the honourable bad guy is an old cliche, but it's one that I always like, and there is a genuine, brooding sense of futility about the world depicted in this story.
Claw is a doomed man, fighting an irrelevant war, basically because he has nothing else to do with his time, and for the first time, you feel it.
Keith Giffen also takes the opportunity with both hands, and the art fair drips with blood red passion, matching the script stroke for sword stroke...
Yep, in our never ending quest to rip off every sword & sorcery character ever, this week in The Kids From Rec. Road, Sean Phillips becomes Solomon Philbo! Hey, it makes sense if you read the strip...
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We're talking foreign comics / TV ( everything's foreign to somebody, after all ). What was your first experience? Metal Hurlant? The Flashing Blade? Sesame Street?
Tell all at kidsfromrecroad.blogspot.com
Been spending the last few months reading as much of Harvey Pekar's American Splendor as I can, and have come away with a couple of conclusions.
a) I really wish I'd paid attention at the time and bought this stuff when it came out and b) it's one of the greatest comics ever done by anybody ever.
An 'autobiography as it's happening', Pekar began charting his own life in comic form in 1976, and at first read, it's a slightly difficult book to tune into. Where's the punchlines? Where's the endings? Where's the neatly wrapped up conclusions?
Well, Harvey's life wasn't like that, and neither is anybody else's.
And the more you read American Splendor, smiling with recognition at some stories, wincing at his brutal self-honesty in others, the more you do tune into the rhythm of his writing, and suddenly see yourself in his everyman kvetching.
That fact that he, along with the various artists who illustrated his scripts, was doing this for decades, mostly unappreciated and basically inventing a new genre by himself, is amazing to me and like I say, I really wish I'd paid more attention at the time.
Here's one of my favourites, beautifully illustrated by Gerry Shamray from tons of photos he took of Harvey. All human life is indeed here. As am I. As you are if you look hard enough.
If you've only ever seen obviously wonderful artists like Gil Kane, Jim Aparo or Joe Staton do Plastic Man, well, it's lucky that DC's Special Series did a whole book of the original strip back in the Bronze Age.
Creator Jack Cole's amazing artwork on Plas is astoundingly ahead of it's time, even now, and though you can see nods to Will Eisner ( who Cole worked with ) it's utterly unique.
Which is not to say people didn't try to copy it. Pretty much all of the early Mad's owe a debt to Cole's visual humour and let's-shove-as-many-gags-into-the-background-as-possible 'chicken-fat' stylings, and if you squint, you can see Harvey Kurtzman & Will Elder taking notes.
Just as one example, spot the panel where Plas stretches through the middle of a canoodling couple, moving so fast that the girl's lipstick is imprinted on his body.
Over the years, there've been various attempts to do Plas in animation. There's really no need, is there?
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