Leave Your Spandex @t the Door

Welcome to the 37th installment of “Leave Your Spandex @t the Door”.

To make up for slight column delays, this week’s column comes jam-packed with so many goodies that I’m half-expecting Joe Q to burst through the screen and stick a “Directo’s cut” blurb on my ass. Apart from reviews of BAD IDEAS and DEMO #9, we also have a sneak peek at the next mont’s DEMO #10 and a 10-page preview of this week’s BAD IDEAS #2!

Don’t forget to sign the NEXUS ‘Doop on Avengers‘ petition and tell your friends too. In 2 weeks we’ve gotten 50 signatures. No need to remind you that one lucky cat from the petition list will win a very special goodie bag courtesy of yours truly, which will include the final issue of X-Statix and a special personalized Doop/Crossgen comic. The lottery winner will be announced here in 3 weeks time. Now on to this week’s reviews:

DEMO #9 (by Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan. AIT/PLANETLAR)

It doesn’t happen often to me, to find a comic book that I want to read and re-read until the pages fall apart. DEMO is such a book.

It’s happened several times so far, when I’m talking with a friend on chat and the subject of DEMO comes up, we both smile wicked emoticon all-knowing grins for our shared good taste. We start discussing what our favorite issue is and why, and how sad it’ll be when the 12th issue comes out and there won’t be any more after it. But then I think, when all is said and done, I’ll have 12 demos lovingly tucked away on my shelf to revisit endlessly or a long time to come.

For those of you who haven’t heard of the title before (tsk tsk :-p ), DEMO is a series of 12 self-contained issues, with stories completely unrelated to each other except for one uniting strand: that one of the protagonists has some sort of out-of-the-ordinary ability. None of the stories are spandex-related though, they’re all set in the real world and deal with the turmoil these characters undergo as a direct or indirect result of their powers.

DEMO #9 is titled “Breaking Up”, and the story is about just that: a young couple, Angie and Gabe, who meet in a coffee shop to end their relationship. Gabe has the special gift to remember everything people say to him, forever. Using the coffee shop setting as a framing sequence Brian Wood takes us back and forth into various moments in the couple’s time together; as Gabe remembers all the good and bad moments they lived through, he takes the reader along for the ride and the reader gets involved in their life, witnessing their most private and tender moments together and their worst arguments, finding himself the unwilling invisible judge to their blaming game. Whose (if anyone’s) fault is this break-up?
At what point did it all go wrong? As the panels flow by, the score keeps adding up: 0-1 Angie is sweet and Gabe is insensitive. 3-2 He is comforting and she is annoying. 5-7 She is hurtful and he is aggressive. They love each other but can’t stop hurting each other. The reader is drawn into their feelings through these situations, loves with them and hates with them, and he can’t escape the pain of the break-up”¦

Brian and Becky’s work on DEMO can be an invaluable guide to those aspiring writers and artists out there in the use of pacing and space on the page. A flashback may take just one panel or two pages, but they will always be just enough. There may be five pages with no dialogue at all, but they will prove the most revealing. And when a page only has one panel, that panel has a specific purpose and needs to breathe alone on the page to have its proper effect. Becky is an artistic chameleon, slightly altering her style to better suit each issue’s story. Both characters have simple distinctive faces, seemingly comprised of thick ink strokes, but they are always the mirrors of their souls, passing the characte’s emotions effortlessly to the reader. Even without reading the dialogue, you can go through the story and understand the emotional rollercoaster Angie and Gabe are going through.

Closing words of warning: If you’re not reading DEMO, you’re only hurting yourself!

BONUS MATERIAL: Becky Cloonan provided the Nexus with the covers of the upcoming closing issues of DEMO, and a sneak peek at issue 10: “Damaged”

DEMO 10 cover: Damaged
DEMO 10 page 9
DEMO 10 page 11
DEMO 10 page 12
DEMO 11 cover: Midnight To Six
DEMO 12 cover: Mon Dernier Jour Avec Toi

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BAD IDEAS #1-2 (of 2) (by Wayne Chinsang, Dave Crosland and Jim Mahfood, IMAGE COMICS)

It takes a special kind of talent to transform a “Bad Idea” into such n entertaining read!

In the first issue of BAD IDEAS, we met our three dangerously creative stars Wayne (Chinsang), Jim (Mahfood) and Dave (Crosland). The setting was WizardWorld Chicago con, at the boys’ signing table. To pass the time before rabid fan sightings Wayne started pitching (Bad) Ideas for a joint project to Jim and Dave. The issue contained three such (Bad) stories: a hilarious “Power Death Squad of Death and Power” 90s team book parody, a “Rock Candy” manga/anime parody and “Comic Kid and Hot Chick”.

The first story featured Dave Crosland mockin—er, “paying homage” to Rob Liefield (amongst others) by taking up several of Rob’s memorable art quirks (I’m being so P.C. here, I love it!), like the costume pouches fetish and the infinitely extending (and always grinding) denture features.

The second, “Rock Candy” featured the manga rip-of—er, “homage” to Rogue in her nonsensical adventures, poking cruel fun at anime fans(we’re people too, you know!) . It’s like a kiddy cartoon with coke sniffing and violent deaths in the vein of Kill Bill.

The third story was the origins of “Comic Kid and Hot Chick”, telling the story of how the hot and cool Meagan walked into a comic shop to ask directions and ended up fighting for her life, hand in hand with a stereotyped oversized virgin comic geek Leonard, against murderous avenging mutant vegetarians! Quite a sentence that one, eh? The art in this part is supplied by both Dave and Jim, each drawing one of the main characters and sharing background and villains duties. At the end of the issue, the creative trio decides to go ahead and pitch this story to Image, and that’s where the second issue starts off.

The second issue is devoted entirely to the new crime-fighting couple as they do battle with alien fruit and meet their first super-villainess. You can get a good taste of it from the 10-page preview of the issue in this column, a most generous offer from the esteemed and oh-so-slightly deranged mr Crosland.

Don’t come into this series anticipating deep insightful characters or an exciting plot (not even an existing one). You should still come in though, and be sure that you’ll find great gags and side-splitting humor as nothing stands sacred in this team’s unrelenting parody. The humor is in the vein of irreverent satires like Scary Movie, but with more of a nudge towards Monty Pythons and some touches of Woody Allen surrealism, as the three creators tend to pop up inside the story here and there to make random remarks or just to order refreshments! Wayne Chinsang has a true original comic vein, and (though it may difficult to get him to admit it) his humor is ideally suited for comic books, as he knows how to write visual gags that rely on his artist’s strengths.

The art in the second issue follows the same tactic as the origin story in issue 1, with Jim and Dave handling different characters in the same panel. It’s a great experiment, and it works marvels here. They’ve cooperated flawlessly so that the characters relate well to each other and the art styles don’t clash on the page. Every page is really jam-packed with dialogue, quips, and background fun tidbits, like the posters in Comic Kid’s room or the crowd in the street scenes. After the second reading, I realized there are gags even on the book’s spine. Wayne, Jim and Dave have really meshed creatively and I hope they push more joint projects like this; I grew quite fond of reading them in the story, they could be the next Jay and Silent Bob, who knows!

Closing words of warning: Don’t read BAD IDEAS while eating or in the toilet (or both): your mom can’t be arsed to still come down the basement to clean up after your mess.

BONUS: BAD IDEAS #2 PREVIEW:

Cover
Page 1
Page 2
Page 3
Page 4
Page 5
Page 6-7
Page 8
Page 9
Page 10

(For more Wayne and Dave, you can check back to the chat I had with them for their HEAVEN LLC project, a few months ago.)

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Coming up in the following weeks: FUTURE QUAKE! SAM119! And a fond farewell to X-STATIX”¦.
As always, I’m waiting for your comments through email or i
n the new official LYS@D discussion thread.

Manolis Vamvounis
a.k.a. Doc Dooplove

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