Pipeline #1009: "Eclipse" and "Glitterbomb" First Issues, and Some Podcasts

Pipeline for Eclipse and Glitterbomb first issues
(Photo: Giovanni Timpano and Djibril Morissette-Phan)

"Glitterbomb"

...suffers a bit from the problem that it involves demons/Cthulhu/Whatever The Heck That Thing Is. It's already a bit of a running joke with Image Comics that everything is a straightforward story from some particular non-fantasy genre -- that then adds a demon or a werewolf or an alien to make it different. This is the modern day equivalent to what happened in the late 90s when everything was pitched as "such-and-such meets The X-Files".

As much as I love Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips' work together, I still haven't read "Fatale." Again, Cthulhu type stuff does nothing for me. I'd rather go re-read "Sleeper."

I've heard "Glitterbomb"'s writer, Jim Zubkavich, on enough podcasts (see the end of this column) to know that he's pitching this series as a character piece that just happens to have this demonic angle on it. That's what's keeping me around. So long as the lead character, Farrah, is doing interesting things that don't center completely on the demon inside her, I'll follow the book. We'll see how that goes.

The artist of the book, Djibril Morissette-Phan, is a real find for Zubkavich. He's an excellent artist, with touches of Chris Bachalo or Sean Murphy to his art. While there are one or two unclear moments in the storytelling, the vast majority of it is spot on. He's very restrained in the way he uses grids and straight-on medium angle shots. He's not trying to be ultra-dramatic in the talking heads scenes that way. He serves the story best by having characters whose faces tell the story. He has the knack for facial expressions, whether it's a little eye roll or a smile meant to punctuate something that's pretty mean.

Glitterbomb faces example
(Photo: Djibril Morissette-Phan with K. Michael Russell)

K. Michael Russell's coloring complements the art well. The linework remains clear, the color choices feel natural, and he doesn't use all of Photoshop's tricks to get there. There are a lot of flat areas to this issue, where other colorists might have gone with complicated gradients or airbrushing. The highlighted areas in places are very subtle. Russell earns his keep with clear storytelling, instead.

Marshall Dillon gets credited with "Letter Art", which is a term I rather like. I think more people should use that one. Dillon uses traditional word balloons with tails and a readable all-caps font, but his balloons look hand drawn. They're a little lumpy.

The open ends of the tails also overlap the balloons, which is the part that took the most to get used to for me. Sometimes, the lumpy balloons leave the lettering looking off-center, too, but it works for the most part. There are always parts left to iron out when you try something new. I look forward to how that pans out in the issues ahead.

"Glitterbomb" is scheduled as an on-going series. There are enough parts of it that I like to keep me going for the first storyline. I have enough hesitation with the other parts, though, to not be sure that I'll stick around for a second volume just yet. I'm keeping an open mind, though.

"Eclipse"

...also saw its debut issue from Image (via Top Cow) last week. It's Zack Kaplan's comics writing debut, and it turns out pretty good. It's the story of a near-future earth where the sun has become a dangerous weapon, leading civilization to move underground, except at nights. The drama comes, of course, when someone spends time outside doing dirty deeds.

I like the high concept. The lead character who will drive the story is interesting enough, and the twist in near the end is a good one.

The art from Giovanni Timpano is spectacular in spots. Check out the opening pages, where he's drawing crowd scenes in Times Square at night. It's a ridiculous level of detail in there, and it happens again in future pages. Timpano isn't afraid to fill the page with little lines to tell the story.

That includes actually drawing backgrounds. Timpano draws excellent wide angles and middle distance shots that place the characters firmly in their backgrounds.

Eclipse glow colors
(Photo: Giovanni Timpano with Betsy Gonia)

The part where the book falls short, sadly, is in the coloring. Colorist Betsy Gonia's style doesn't work well on this art for me. The airbrushed style is too busy and often too soft. The lack of hard edges on the shadows and the modeling makes a lot of things look like they're glowing. That includes shadows on the ground, people's clothes, and the light on people's faces.

There's also one page near the end that's so relentlessly dark and impossible to read that I want to assume there was a printing error or a settings issue with the brightness at the printer's. It hides the line work and interrupts the story while you stare at each panel hoping to pick up what's going in.

I'll continue to read this series because I think the story is an interesting one and the artist is doing a great job. I just hope the total package improves over time. Maybe some more time spent together will help the team gel a little better.

The Week In Comics Podcasting

More accurately, this is some of what I've listened to in the past week. Some of the podcasts mentioned here are a few weeks old now.

I've been listening to a lot of comics podcasts recently, sampling different shows and following interesting creators around the circuits. Some quick recommendations for you:

The Business of Art looks to be mostly about Kickstarter these days, but took an episode out to chat about the business of comic books, in general, with Jim Zubkavich. Zub also appeared on Off Panel with David Harper. He followed that up with an appearance on Comixlaunch to talk about Kickstarter for writers. It all came full circle, in an odd little way.

If you're interested in the business of comics, Off Panel also had a recent interview with "Ghosted" writer Joshua Williamson, who you probably know better from "The Flash" or "Nailbiter." (I'm partial to "Ghosted" as his best work, so I credit him that way.) He goes behind the scenes on how comics get made, the art of comics marketing, and the joys of a good letterer. That's something Zub also talked about in his Off Panel episode.

The new monthly installment of The Felix Art Podcast features one of my favorite original art collectors, Erik Larsen. There's a video to go along with it that's delightful, as well. Thing I learned: I knew had worked on an X-Force fill-in for Rob Liefeld that went out the window when his house burned down, but I didn't realize he had actually roughed out the entire issue already. That would have been amazing to see.

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I just checked: Jim Zubkavich never appeared on "Let's Talk Comics." Get back on it, boss!

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