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Jack Staff #8
posted June 17, 2005
Image Comics, 32 pages, $3.50
One thing I always found odd about superhero fans is that they don't tend to carry over their love for the form into presentational styles and approaches to art they might find pleasing as an adult. I know mystery fans who can no longer watch every episode of Scarecrow and Mrs. King the way they might have as a 14-year-old Dick Francis reader, but are pleased to take their love for that entire genre into City of Glass
, or to a well-staged Sherlock Holmes done by quality British theater actors. Does that make any sense? Most comic fans on the other hand come across either as adherents of a past style or viciously current no matter what their age might be. Other styles need not apply.
I thought about this again when reading an issue of Paul Grist's superhero comic book Jack Staff
. The thing looks really nice; the layouts in particular are clever and admirable. Grist's stories are so clear that he can makes use of devices that would only lead clutter to a less skilled artist's adventure story. I really liked his use of inset panels on the page, to show reactions, and panels that are separated by a broken gutter to emphasize a specific element of the transition between them. Grist's superheroes are also well designed, although just by using a variety of body types the characters would pop out against much of what's out there. The story reminds me of those incremental moving series that would appear in those shared cover anthologies Marvel used to do. One or two movements forward, an observation or two as to the nature of what we just saw and it's done. There's nothing here that transcend the genre in that simple way where it has a natural audience outside fans of the genre. One hopes loose cartooning like this can develop a place where the superhero fans are, and I hope there are enough of them with the open mind to support it while the audience grows.