Monday Review – Deer Editor

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Synopsis

Deer Editor is a modern whodunit written by Ryan K Lindsay, art by Sami Kivelä and lettering by Nic J. Shaw. Bucky, our fearless anthropomorphic journalist deer, stumbles upon a murder in this noir inspired digital only series.

Story

*Minor spoiler ahead*.

Coming across a John Doe at the local morgue, Bucky a writer at ‘The Truth’ newspaper, discovers a cover up involving upper echelons of City Hall. On his journey to unearth the gritty story for his paper, he’ll come across a bartender with an amoral compass, a sleazy Hugh Hefner type character and several corpses.

Bucky will have to use not only his investigative journalism skills but also his additional animal senses of smell, antlers, thick hide and speed to get to the bottom of this life and death story.

I came across Deer Editor through a recent Deer Hacker campaign that Ryan K Lindsay was running for his third volume of this series on Twitter. I hadn’t read any of the previous work nor had I come across Lindsay’s work in the past so I picked up all three digital volumes at the end of the campaign.

I really enjoyed this first volume and I found the story engaging. It has been some time since I sat down and read a whodunit and I was thoroughly entertained by the twists and turns of this noir inspired story. I was wondering how surreal this story was going to be having a deer as the protagonist but surprisingly, it works quite well. I really enjoyed how Lindsay used the animal side of Bucky in further certain panels within the story to further develop story.

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The story had a good sense of pace and I quickly read all three chapters of the first volume in a about ten minutes because it constantly engaged me to swipe to the next page. The fact that it ends on a cliff hanger only make you want to pick up the second volume and start reading.

The decision for the story to only be released digitally and to be specially designed for tablet devices worked in the stories favour. It’s the first digital comic I’ve read in this format and it was nice not to have to zoom in on certain panels on my iPad.

The writing was tight and the use of Bucky being the narrator helps to drag you as a reader into this noir story. This is reminiscent of similar style stories in different mediums such as the film Double Indemnity.

Art

The black and white art works very well with this story. One of the concerns I have with B&W art generally is that sometimes you can’t discern features, mood or times of day if the artist does not communicate this correctly. Thankfully this was not the case with Deer Editor. Sami Kivelä really delivers with the art here and again compliments the noir style writing by using great examples of silhouettes and shadows.

When you humanise animals there is always a trade off of how much of the animal you keep against the human superimposition. With style, Kivelä adds a very believable human deer to the unknown corrupt city where the story takes place.

deer-editor-vol-3-exampleI also appreciated the use of panels in delivering pace to bring into focus certain objects in the scene that the reader should be focusing on.

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Lettering

As I’m trying to become a letterer myself I thought I would spend some time with this oft look part of the comic creation. Nic J. Shaw created a rather reserved approach to the sound effects of this issue. In fact, in most major cape comics you would expect to see SFX when for example a door is kicked open. Shaw goes the other way and leaves a lot of SFX for the readers imagination which in this story is actually a benefit and lets Kivelä’s art shine.

I also enjoyed the deer head silhouette that would signal the start of a Bucky’s narration. Whilst this was most likely a created by the artist, the placement of it I would assume was the Shaw.

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The placement of the dialogue is sound sand doesn’t distract from the art and story. So basically does exactly what a good letterer is supposed to.

Conclusion

I really enjoyed this story and I can’t wait to finish this review and read the next two instalments. You can still get your own grubby mits on them if you visit the Deer Editor website. The fact the stories can be picked up for a dollar also means your not breaking the bank to read a new piece of work that is really engaging. If you wish to follow Lindsay, Kivelä or Shaw you can find them on Twitter.

Join me next Monday for our next comic review.

Regards,

N. S. Paul

Friday Comic – My Teeth! (Script)

Morning all,

Please find my submission for the one comic every two week challenge. “My Teeth” follows Toothy, a small child T-Rex as he tries to get his food off a small rodent.

You can access the file here.

Regards,

N. S. Paul

Wednesday Support – Anthologies

Good morning,

Now that I’m back in the swing of things I can share with you Support Wednesday, a weekly blog about resources that can help support your comic writing lives.

This week comes from anthologies;

http://sol-comics.com/anthology-submissions/

http://openroadanthology.tumblr.com/anthology-submissions

http://www.lezhin.com/en/page/contest

All the best,

N. S. Paul

Monday Review – Ultimatum

ultimatumI know, lets kill off the entire Ultimate Marvel universe. Let’s actually let the bad guys win. Let see real consequences to real villainous actions. That basically sums up Ultimatum right there with veteran Marvel scribe Jeph Loeb on writing duties and David Finch on illustration.

Synopsis

In a grief infused state at the death of his children, the Scarlett Witch and Quicksilver, X-Men Big Bad Magento has finally carried out his plan of mutant domination over homo sapiens by reversing the Earth’s magnetic poles causing world wide catastrophe. Spanning 5 issues and being a massive feature in the Ultimate Universe sister issues (Ultimate X-Men V. 1 #98 – #100, Ultimate Spider-Man #129 – #133, Ultimate Origins, Ultimates V.3 and Ultimate Fantastic Four #58 – #60), Ultimatum finally lets the bad guy win.

Story

I’ve been working my way through the Ultimate Universe prior to picking up Ultimatum so this story arc was pretty far out there and I loved it. The premise, the execution and the deaths! Oh my, do not get me started on the deaths. Loeb’s writing is slick and conveys the characters across the Ultimate Marvel universe showing much appreciation to the writing that had come before.

However there were a couple of annoyances. The amount of tie ins you need to read to fully embrace the storyline is draft. The whole story spans mere days in comic time but we’re talking months and months of real time. Thankfully reading this as a collected edition makes the wait non-existent but I could not imagine waiting every month for this storyline to run it’s course.

Second, I just don’t believe that Magneto would quote The Byrds 1965 hit, “Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season)” whilst his masterplan comes to fruition. I’m sorry, I’m not buying that. One could argue a biblical reference but it doesn’t read like it.

Art

Finch’s art was beautifully rendered and it really dragged me in. The devastation of the Ultimatum event is beautifully drawn and the classic Marvel characters look beautiful and jaded. To be honest, I’m not an artist so I don’t feel as qualified to comment on art generally but what I can say is that I really enjoyed the imagery used and it suited the writing perfectly.

Conclusion

Whilst this story arc got panned by critics I never saw the reason why. I really enjoyed the story but my main complaint is the amount of tie ins this story requires you to read to get the full story which is disappointing for the casual reader.

Join me next Monday for our next comic review.

Regards,

N. S. Paul

Wednesday Support – Lettering resources, anthologies, Kickstarter and new work

Now that I am back in full swing at my day job it is harder to do as many updates as I would like but I have managed to come across some excellent resources in my limited downtime.

Resources

The first comes from letterer Jim Campbell (@CampbellLetters & clickflicklettering) who has worked with publishing companies such as 2000AD, BOOM! Studios, Image Comics, Titan Comics, Heavy Metal and Dark Horse to name a few. I came across his guides on the 2000AD forums and I have massive respect for his teaching ethic. Since I found his resources, Jim has been kind enough to point me in the direction to more resources for lettering on his blog through Twitter. I’ve always had a massive amount of respect and gratitude to working professionals who are willing to spend a little time helping amateurs develop their skills to join the industry. So Jim Campbell, thank you! (FYI – you should check out his blog already).

Anthologies

There’s a been several new anthologies and submissions that I’ve come across in the last few weeks. Hopefully you can get to submitting to these soon!

Kickstarters

So let’s talk new comics! I’ve been scouring Kickstarter for new potential material to read and some have caught my eye that I thought I would share. I am no way affiliated with these comic creators. I actually came across their work because of Twitter and I ended following a couple of additional Kickstarters through their social media.

The first is “Ness #2” written by Chris Welsh and art by Robert Carey. I wish I could tell you more about it but I was totally sold on H. P. Lovecraft, Hellboy and Scottish mix. I’m now just waiting for Issue 1 and Issue 2 to be delivered when the Kickstarter finishes. FYI, this Kickstarter has already succeeded but you can still get involved and support the creators.

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The second Kickstarter is Deer Editor: Hack.

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Written by Ryan K Lindsay and art by Sami Kivelä Again if I’m honest, I’m supporting this Kickstarter mostly because of the artwork and the title of the work. And considering the entry point of supporting this comic and the fact that it had already met it’s financial target I had nothing to loose supporting it. Again I am not affiliated with the two Kickstarters above but they just look so damn cool, so check them out and pledge!

New material

Your still here? Fantastic! I’ve recently put my most recent drafts of original scripts on the website. You can check them out at the comics page. I’d recommend “Home” and “My Hero” for short starting points. Please keep in mind these are working drafts and will be updated.

In the interim, have a good Friday.

N. S. Paul

Monday Review – Glitterbomb #1

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Glitterbomb, written by Jim Zub (@JimZub) and art by Djibril Morissette-Phan (@DjibrilMP) is a tale of Hollywoods treatment of washed up celebrity and a nightmarish vision of how you should treat others as you wish to be treated.

Synopsis.

Farrah is a washed up actress when after one terrible audition she visits the sea were a monstrous creature possesses her body. She quickly eats her way through a couple of minor characters and comes home to look after her son.

The first issue read well and I was engaged with the artwork and storytelling. This was my first time reading Zub’s work and whilst it was engaging I’m not fully converted yet. In one respect, Zub has grabbed my attention with an interesting premise and I am looking forward to picking up the second issue to get a bit more back story about Farrah and her dysfunctional life but I felt there were times were the story dragged.

In a world full of immediacy maybe I’m just not happy having to wait a full month to see how this story progresses. Maybe it’s my own bias to read graphic novels than one off issues that lets me down.

The variant cover art (pictured above) had me hooked and looks slick but apart from that, it was a standard story.

Side note, Jim Zub has got some excellent advice for aspiring writers and artists on his website which I would recommend.

Till next time,

N. S. Paul

I have a confession…

I don’t know who Brian Michael Bendis is. Or that is, I didn’t. I’ve just put down issue 100 of Ultimate Spider-Man and I’ve been blown away by reimagining of my favourite Marvel super-hero teen.

However, back to the point! I’m trying to read through all the Ultimate universe stuff at the moment and came across that name – Brian. I looked him up on Wikipedia then quickly scanned my bookshelf to notice that I’ve read his work many, many times (Avengers Disassembled, Secret Invasion and one of favourite stories House of M).

What was also embarrassing was that I never even realised that he was involved in the MCU and that I have seen all the films he has had some input into.

Ever since I’ve have gotten back into writing I have been studying his panels and writing of Ultimate Spider-Man to see how I can take his technique and apply it to my own writing.

I don’t think I’m there yet but reading up and studying Bendis’ style has given me more confidence in my own writing. There’s another author I can add to my list of writers I respect. Neil (Gaiman) and Mike (Mignola) I’ll write up about you two soon enough!

If you’ve never read any of Bendis’ material before I would recommend getting stuck into Ultimate Spider-Man as it is very approachable.

You can grab the first TPB from amazon here.

N. S. Paul

Independent Comics Pt. 1

Good afternoon all,

I’ve just spent the better half of this week checking out creator owned and usually self published works. Since committing myself to finally getting one of my ideas to paper and getting it produced I have actively tried to get involved in the creator owned online comic community and by golly there is a lot of good stuff out there. So I thought I would share with you some of the comics I’ve come across this week that are creator owned and published.

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Grimwood Crossing

Conner Bartel – Writer & Letterer

Atagun Ilhan – Illustrator

James Liswed – Cover

So I was really quite lucky to pick up a copy of this comic prerelease through reddit/comicwriting and I really thoroughly enjoyed it. So much so that I have remained in contact with the writer and cover artist ever since I came across their work. I have to be upfront and also point out  that they have been kind enough to critique my own work which has really been helpful developing as a writer.

Grimwood Crossing takes the popular theme of the supernatural (zombies, vampires etc) and transports it the Wild West and it does it well, very well in fact. The story is engaging and without giving away to many spoilers, follows the adventures of The Sheriff and his apprentice supernatural bounty hunter Bobby as they deal with the consequences of The Sheriff’s sordid past.

For an independent publisher and creator owned comic this was a great first entry into the world of comics from Bartel. The fact that this story ends on a tight cliffhanger that engages the reader to continue reading the next issue shows the strength of the writing.

Alas, we will have to wait for issue two and the remaining four issues after that to find out how it all ends but until that time you can buy Grimwood Crossing #1 at Amazon here.

Join me next week for Independent Comics Pt. 2.

N. S. Paul

You can’t have more than six panels on a page!

Or so the old adage goes. Since I have gotten back into writing comics I’ve fallen into the trap of writing too many panels in my comics. This has resulted in feedback from other writers stating that artists will see the job as tedious or worse yet, me being naive about not giving enough breathing room for the art to take centre stage.

I went back to my recent draft of Resurrection Men #1 and looked at my pages with my analytical hat. Was I showing my inexperience or could a writer really be successful with more than a certain number of panels per page?

3589583-ultimate+spider-man+43-07So I picked up my most recent read, Ultimate Spider-Man by Brian Michael Bendis and I noticed that he often writes for nine or ten panels per page. This is one of the most successful writers currently at Marvel so by this logic surely there doesn’t need to be a hard limit on how many panels you need for a page. The page to the left really was a great example of how a large number of panels can quickly tell a story without the need of excess dialogue.

 

avengers-finaleThis page from the “Avengers Disassembled” storyline was in fact very powerful because it showcased the emotional wellbeing of all the characters whilst simultaneously giving each character a line of dialogue that expressed their feelings towards the end of an era. However, I’m not trying to dismiss the logic between limited panels. In fact it really helps as a writer to look at a page with many different panels and see what really is important and condense the essence of the story into as few as panels as possible.

The example below comes from between two drafts of Resurrection Men #1.

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In the first example you can see there was a lot of dialogue and going back and forth between Camael and James. When I added it up it came up to 10 panels in total! So I thought to myself, how can I keep the jist of this story and scene but cut the panels. This was my solution below.

1 Redone2 redone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Suddenly a lot smoother and heck of lot more interesting visually. I 02_cemanaged to keep the feel of story but also gave room for the art to be the certain of attention.

So I guess this one golden rule can be broken, if it is broken for the right reason. I’ll leave you with a poor example of panels from Scott McCloud’s “Understanding Comics”, a great read you should pick up.

All the best,

N. S. Paul

Wednesday Support – Comic balloons & clarity

Evening all,

My journey to developing as a comic writer and letterer led me to do a lot of research on how to develop different skills. I thought I would start sharing those online posts that have helped me in the interests that it might help others with their own work.

This tutorial has great information about placement of word balloons within your comic. This particular article comes from IDW published writer and artist Lora Innes. You can check out her online comic, The Dreamer here,  buy it here and her twitter here.

All the best,

N. S. Paul

Comic Layout Tutorial: Comic Balloons & Clarity