Reading is fundamental!
I enjoy reading and looking at pictures, especially subjects on true crime and science fiction. I also enjoy reading comic books because the art of illustration and storytelling in a visual medium is an entirely different experience than prose. It's a little time consuming to write up reviews for material I didn't enjoy so I am only going to list titles that I think are worth recommending.
Books on my reading list:
Storming Las Vegas: John Huddy
These two works by Anomaly Productions were my first exposure to a newer style of illustrative storytelling - these works embody a sheen and glean that impart a futuristic mood on a somewhat dark environment. They are a little pricy but if you can locate discounted copies they are worth perusing. Shifter and Anomaly.
Alongside Night - The Graphic Novel : Schulman - Read through the graphic novel and it merited my interest enough to purchase the full novel. A lot of these works link to what I identify as experiences unique to my life but if so many works share the same elements then my experiences may not be as unique as I thought. The full novel is under 200 pages and the font is a lil small so maybe ill finish it in a week.
Birthright - Read the first volume and it's an auspicious start. The pencils and inks are great and the caricature styles are a hybridization of human and animal features. The story moves a little quickly but I find the art worth learning from. I think I may keep this on a 'follow in TPB form' - definitely worth the discounted volume price.
Chrononauts: Millar Murphy - The drawing in this work was very well done. It's probably one of the best examples of line drawing I've seen in a while. The storyline is a bit of a hybridization of Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court and Army of Darkness. The storyline is engrossing at first then becomes a little weak but nonetheless I found it worth my time to read and review.
Electric Ant - This story is a simplified version of Do Androids Dream of Electric Ship. It's a little traumatic for anyone who's ever been forced to endure human medical research experimentation and the added horror is the subjects inability to escape the death squads sanction to execute him. The art is better than average and the storyline will probably only upset people who have had the firsthand experience of the story.
Goddess: Ennis Winslade - What really drew my attention to this title was the caliber of the art it contained inside. Throughout the 8 issues the art really evolves from someone who is a talented drawer to someone who's art ascends into a higher plane. The storyline is a little discombobulating, however I'm learning that some of these print books hold chemicals that are reactive with people who have been chemically treated to be reactive with them. So as you read the story the chemicals in the pages trigger nerve impulses. Its a bit of a stealth design. You can read the story but without the chemical prompts you won't fully understand the expressive content. This style lends itself to intimacy and privacy which are becoming increasingly challenged as the technology to violate it evolves.
The Man in the High Castle: Philip K Dick - Alright - finished reading it. Not as good as Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep or The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch. It was a 'What if...' type of mood piece without a concrete plot - mostly just narrative elements. Not really worth reading unless you have a personal affinity to the situations being portrayed.
On the Odd Hours: Eric Liberge - I really liked everything about this book. The level of art was great and I especially liked the combination of inks and photo-rendered images. This work is a quintessential example of the style I would deploy when creating my own works.Pariah Missouri : Salazar/Pescador - Read the first volume - definitely going to follow up on the second volume. The events depicted in this narrative bear a remarkable affinity towards events in my life. They also got a Facebook and Kickstarter page.
Static Shock : Trial by Fire - This title was a refreshing break from some of the more serious issues discussed in other titles. The art and style of this title is simple, unique, and charming. Lacking the flashy appeal of newer titles - it nonetheless beckons the reader to read and reread its contents and discover and rediscover the nuances and wit of the author's work.
Skizz: Moore/Baikie - The art in this book was amazing. It was all ink and really showcased the talents of the artist. Very inspirational in getting me to start making line drawing. Unfortunately the storyline was really brainwashy and it bothered me that art of this caliber would be utilized for evil. On a positive side it did call my attention to the 2000AD format of short stories in comics.
The work of Saurav Mohapatra - I have purchased one of his books and then discovered that there was a bunch of free samples available online so I posted the link. I read Sadhu - it shows potential. There is still room for development but I will follow up on this artist. My advice thus far is try not to squeeze so much in at once. Storytelling is like lovemaking - you want to slowly progress to a climax, building suspense and intrigue and wonder. The scene changes in this work occur fairly rapidly however the strength of the artist is in the facial expressionism. I think the first vehicle for improvement is to eliminate the disparity between half empty panels and fully realized scenes of exotictry. If rending a full panel is too much work then change the cropping to focus only on the finished elements. Actually I just realized the printed book is different than the online one. I read the printed one but the online version is actually part 2. But since its online you can judge for yourself.
Vegas Rag Doll: Schoenmann & Mazaros - I read this pretty fast my first time around - and got the feeling that it was more allegorical than factual - a lot of time was spent going into detail about mundane things which leads me to believe that information may be preserved in the art of allegory. Maybe this one is a 'read between the lines'. It turns out they made a tv episode also listed on IMDB and there is a Facebook page as well.
Current Comic series I subscribe to:
I'm pretty picky about current titles because if you aren't you end up subscribing to a lot of mediocrity. I favor art over storyline which can be a leave you feeling a little empty at times, but stylistically unique drawing is always inspiring.
Descender: Image comics The art is much simpler but I enjoy the watercolor storyboards as an aesthetically pleasing minimalist style.
Drifters: Image comics The story line is a little weak but I do enjoy the art in these books. The first two issues are extremely strong and then the storyline falls apart. I'd recommend the TPB listed here. The first five issues are a complete storyline then now in issue 6 it's a whole new story.
Low I really liked the art in this book - characters are portrayed in an abstract expressionism reminiscent of the Italian futurists from the first half of the 20th century. The closest known approximation to this type of art is that of Umberto Boccioni. The story also bears resonance with events in my life and I will be adding this title to my follow list.
Runlovekill : Image comics This is a new series that reminds me a bit of Aeon Flux except it has text as well as art. Actually I didn't know Aeon Flux had text cause I had only previously watched the promo disc.
Roche Limit: Image comics This is actually Volume 2 of an earlier story. The art has become more uniquely stylized and has gravitated towards the darker side. Roche Limit: Anomalous is the collection of the first volume. The ambience in this book is compelling - the writing and allegory are powerful. The art is a little undone but it is inspiring in that regard. I found a strong affinity with this book and ideas to populate Las Vegas. The story and message contained within are sufficient. The idea that comes to mind is how to improve the visual execution - lending itself as an inspiration as a new medium for aspiring artists. Find a story that you like and gift it with the artistic impulse inside you. I think Las Vegas would be an ideal place for media companies to develop talent and produce media that can be distributed all over the world. Whether you are an author or a comic book company - its a very comfortable place to live and produce work.
Strange Fruit : Boom Studios One of the most promising titles I have seen in quite some while - the art is very compelling and while the storyline may not be suitable for minors it deals with the reality of America's colorful history and what it means to be American.
Comics from the last 3 years worth catching up on:
Clone: Image comics - Full series (1-20)
Reading is inspirational!
I stumbled across a few photorealistic comics and got the idea to create my own storyboard from photoshopped photographs and comic bubbles. In addition to image manipulation I can also create animated gifs and embed them into manuscripts which take up very little time and space to transmit and still render a visually compelling narrative. The books I looked to for inspiration were :
God Save the Queen : Carey/Bolton
Ravine: Sejic/Marz - There is actually a link to download the first volume for free if you want to sample the photorealistic work.
The goal of me producing a publication in this manner would be to document the social scene in Las Vegas and create a forum for people to both read and write about what they enjoy the most, much in vein of the Time Out publication that is readily available in other cities.
Greatest of all time
This is a list of books that I find museum worthy. My personal prejudice is in favor of art over storyline. Like David Bowie says - "Time may change me - but I can't change time" ( BTW I dunno why they changed that to 'trace'. )
Shotgun Mary "Son of the Beast" - This is an artful rendering of the heart of Las Vegas illustrated in the style of Maxfield Parrish (MP1 MP2).