Tales of Syzpense #6
Hitomi, comic self-portraits, and a submerged spinner rack
Any newsletter aiming for compulsive readability should evolve along with what the readers want, and so: last time around, I ended with the introduction of what I planned as a regular thing here, possible themes for comic spinner racks and examples of comics that would fit each assorted theme.
Because this seemed to be the part that got the biggest response, well, it’s now gonna be my lead-off each time around.
The theme this week isn’t one that immediately stands out as obvious, but it’s one I’ve always really liked: covers where half the scene is under water. Which is different from other water-related covers like this, one of my all-time favorite Amazing Spider-Man covers that nevertheless doesn’t quite fit this theme (to me; to anyone playing along at hoe, your mileage my vary. That’s the fun part about this, there are no right or wrong answers.).
To fit this particular theme, the characters or the overall scene needs to be half-submerged. That’s it. It’s a theme I liked as a kid, and one I’ve gone on to use twice on comics I’ve been involved with: my own Zombies vs Robots #5 cover courtesy of artist Mark Torres; and a variant cover for Locke & Key: Alpha #2 by Dave Sim, who homaged the best of these “submerged” covers also pictured below, Steve Ditko’s Amazing Spider-Man 29 offering.
I’m sure I’m missing other good examples that fit this one. As with all of these themes, I'd love to hear from you if other specific comics come to mind, and feel free to suggest future themes as well. My general goal is to find no less than 4 and ideally 8 examples for each theme so I can fill one complete side of the spinner rack. Or, in the cases where there’s an abundance of offerings like with the holidays, I load up the entire thing with 32 different covers that fit the theme.
The complete Hitomi
One of the recently completed series we published under the Syzygy imprint, Hitomi, is available as a complete collected edition next week. You can find the TPB in comic shops on May 23, and at book stores the following week.
The paperback edition sports a spiffy new wraparound cover by the series artist, Isabella Mazzanti:
The series is one I’m particularly proud of — writer HS Tak, Isa Mazzanti, and all involved told a deliberately paced and beautifully rendered tale of revenge and a search for purpose in feudal-era Japan. At the end of this newsletter, you can find a first handful of pages from issue 1 if you’d like a broader sense of the story and art.
The Original Selfies
The image I use as my avatar here and across a few different social media channels is one that artist Tommy Lee Edwards did for me when I was a guest of a show Tommy and his partners put on. It basically makes me look more fully rendered than I do in real life. It’s always fun seeing a professional artist draw you. But even more than that, another part of comics I’ve always loved is that of the artist self-portrait.
As research for something that may or may not ever come to pass, I’ve been compiling a folder crammed with good examples of these, too. So along with a different spinner-rack theme til I exhaust everyone’s patience with those, I’ll also run a different artist’s self-portraits each time around.
Some—Sergio Aragones, John Byrne, Jack Kirby—have drawn themselves numerous times, or even appeared as characters in their comics, while others have only drawn themselves very sparingly. But it’s always fun to see, no matter the purpose.
I’ll start this off with two artists who are no longer with us. First is French artist Jean Giraud, better known as Moebius, who would have turned 84 on May 8th. His biography, like his art, needs to be seen rather than described. But it’s likely his work with Alejandro Jodorowski, like The Incal, that stands out the most. Or maybe it’s his western Blueberry series; or possibly Airtight Garage… or his storyboard work on films like Alien and The Fifth Element… or the exemplary Silver Surfer two-parter he did with Stan Lee, or… like I say, his work needs to be experienced rather than just listed. Dark Horse Comics has been producing the Moebius Library in gorgeous new hardcovers that are as good a place to start as any.
And as you can see below, even Moebius’ self-portraits had an otherworldly elegance, as did pretty much every bit of his art, even his ads for Maxwell House coffee.
Then there’s artist Kim Jung Gi, who we lost last October at only 47 years old. His portrait here was created around his appearance at the Angouleme art festival in France, and it captures his organic, hyper-detailed and uniquely kinetic style.
There was something so unique and dynamic about not only Kim’s art but also in his appearances at comic conventions. He was often found at his booth, creating another piece of amazing art, the whole process being filmed over his shoulder and broadcast for attendees to marvel at his skill. You can experience a bit of that in his many time-lapse videos like this one. An amazing talent and an incomparable loss.
To close, directly above is a 6-page look at Hitomi #1. Paid subscribers will find PDF downloads of both the complete Hitomi #1 comic as well as the comic I talked up last week, too, The Edward Gloom Mysteries #1. Hopefully that one will be coming your way as a complete series before too much longer but I’m happy to share it with some people even like this. It’s a good one.
Thanks for the feedback and fun engagements with this newsletter so far. See you next time.
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