Archive for August, 2012

SCALPED: The End of an Era

From the first issue to the last issue: Back-to-back covers of SCALPED #1 and #60. (Covers by Jock)

It’s been said that a story is only as good as its ending. A satisfying ending is crucial to keep readers (or viewers) from feeling disappointed. And there are few things worse than a series–or a story–that keeps on going long after it should have come to a satisfying close.

Readers of SCALPED, one of the best comics of the last ten years, can be grateful that writer Jason Aaron and artist R.M. Guera have delivered a terrific finale to their 60-issue masterpiece.

Man, will I miss this comic. It was the best VERTIGO series since 100 BULLETS, and one of the very best crime comics of all time. My pleasure at seeing the story come to a no-holds-barred conclusion that stays true to the characters and their world is exceeded only by my chagrin at having no more issues of SCALPED to read in the future.

Much has been written in praise of Aaron’s gritty, character-based writing, as well as Guera’s fantastic artwork that fit the story to perfection, so I won’t repeat the words of critics here. Suffice to say, this was one helluva ride, and I hate to see it end. But I salute Aaron and Guera for giving us the ending that we needed–it may not have been the ending we WANTED–but it was the ending that we needed. Rarely has a comic stayed so true to the heart and soul of its lead character.

During the course of the SCALPED run we met and grew to love (or hate) plenty of fascinating and unforgettable characters such as Red Crow, Catcher, Shunka, and Poor Bear (to name only a few).  But in the end SCALPED was always the story of Dashiell Bad Horse, and we’re reminded of that by the final decision that our deeply flawed protagonist makes in the sixtieth and final issue.

Here’s a nice interview with Aaron about the series, which will undoubtedly live on in the form of trade paperback collections:

With SCALPED finished and CRIMINAL on indefinite hiatus, where is the next great crime comic?

I can’t wait to find out.

“Like you I am a luminous stardust being that has become self-aware, and we are two pieces of stardust that are having a conversation. But that is just a space/time event.
Our real nature is beyond space and time.”

The above is my favorite quotation from this enlightening and hilarious conversation between philosopher Deepak Chopra and comedian/actor Rainn Wilson.

Wisdom meets humor in this terrific 6-minute video from SoulPancake.  Dig it.

Cosmic Thoughts: XI

“Peace cannot be achieved through violence,
it can only be attained through understanding.”

–Ralph Waldo Emerson

Rest in Peace, Joe Kubert, one of the greatest comics artists ever born. 
His many great works will live on. TOR is my favorite of them all.



Cosmic Thoughts: X

“Love yourself. Love the world. There is no power stronger than love.”

Tom Waits’ brilliant new video, in my view, is a tribute to all those brave soldiers fighting for their country, and all the generations of soldiers who came before them.

To all the vets still slogging through Hell out there:

Topping off my summer-long Corben celebration, I’ve just completed reading CREEPY PRESENTS RICHARD CORBEN. This is a gorgeous and hefty tome that collects all of Corben’s work from the classic CREEPY and EERIE horror magazines. The gruesome tales presented here come from a prolific period that spanned 1970 to 1982.

Not only can you see the evolution of a great master in these tales, you can also literally see Corben re-defining what color comics could look like. This was well before computer coloring came along, and Corben blew the minds of comics readers in a way that the Beatles’ SGT. PEPPERS must have blown away music fans a few years earlier.

The tales themselves are solid horror gems, with the flavors of high fantasy and science fiction recurring throughout. In black-and-white, or in color, Corben is a force to be reckoned with, even in this early phase of his career. CREEPY and EERIE were the only places that stories of this nature could be printed for many years. Coming out of the 60s, when the magazines mainly featured takes on traditional horror tropes like vampires, werewolves, ghosts, and zombies, these 70s tales often stretched the boundaries of comics storytelling in interesting new ways.

The 70s was a time when comics writers were beginning to weave social commentary and socio-political themes into their comics. Nowhere is this more evident in these tales by Corben and his many collaborators. There are some really nice pieces written by Jan Strnad and Bruce Jones, as well as several names that are less well known.

This collection is intended to showcase Richard Corben’s work from the period, but it ends up being pretty close to something like a BEST OF CREEPY & EERIE. The reason being that Corben was on the cutting edge of the medium, both artistically and thematically.

Out of all these great tales, I think my favorite is “The Hero Within,” where a young boy locked in a basement by his abusive foster-parent escapes into a world of fantasy by focusing on a weird stone he finds there. The story has an amazing fantasy sequence that must have truly amazed readers back in the 70s, and it reminds me of Corben’s own DEN somewhat. The “hero” battles giant lizards, roams a weird wasteland, and rescues a damsel in distress, only to be returned to his own brutal reality for a decidedly unhappy ending.

The horror stories of this era pulled no punches; at times I was shocked by the sheer grimness of certain tales. But there is also a lot of the famous CREEPY/EERIE dark humor here. All in all, the hardcore horror and dark humor are balanced well, and Corben’s amazing artwork makes it all look incredible.

It’s nice that CREEPY has released this collection of Corben works because otherwise all these great stories would be scattered over twelve years’ worth of archive volumes. If you’re thinking of checking out any of the CREEPY or EERIE archives (which I high recommend), then CREEPY PRESENTS RICHARD CORBEN is a great way to “sample” some of the very best that these legendary books had to offer.

You can’t go wrong with Corben.