Comics Disassembled: Ten Things of Note from the Past Week in Comics, Led by An Ascendant Artist

Hey! It was kind of a quiet week in comics, so you know what? We’re going to lead with a couple things I like! Let’s do that in this edition of Comics Disassembled, as the ten things I liked or didn’t like from the week of comics is led by some great art! Yeah!

1. Erica Henderson, Leveling Up

In the back matter of Dracula, Motherf**ker!, Erica Henderson and Alex de Campi’s upcoming Image Comics graphic novella, Henderson writes about how her process for page design was different in this book versus other projects, if only because it was a graphic novel release with no ads in there. This changed things in two different ways: the artist did her layouts as spreads, not pages, and she colored her layouts as she went along. The whole write-up is excellent, but the takeaway was that Henderson could plan more rather than just trying to make things work as well as she can.

It made a sizable difference because – and I say this as a person who already loves Henderson’s work – this isn’t just the best looking comic Henderson has ever worked on, it’s straight up one of the best looking comics of the year by anyone. The colors are the obvious item to point out, as throughout, Henderson is able to make choices that are perhaps outside the classical approach, but create a real sense of atmosphere and mood through unconventional or unexpected color choices that make the whole book pop on a completely different level. Whether you’re talking moving characters on a white background with spray paint trails indicating motion or jagged red washes appearing over an approaching potential savior, choices both small and large on the color side of things make this one of the most dynamic and engrossing reads you’ll find in comics this year.

But also, those layouts create a propulsive, immersive comic, where beats flow and spreads pop in a way that might have been more difficult in a standard 20 page comic. Henderson was already one of the best in the business at character acting and visual storytelling, but being able to approach the art of this book in a way that allows for more holistic thinking feels as if it’s unlocked that more focused strength on a broader scale, elevating her art to another, higher, somehow even more impressive level.

Dracula, Motherf**ker! is one of the best looking comics of the year, and seeing what Henderson can do here actually makes me hopeful we’ll see the artist work in graphic novels instead of single issue comics going forward, because it just feels like the format fits her gifts well. It’s a hell of a thing, and a remarkable work by someone who was already one of the best in the business in my mind.

2. Stuart Immonen, Schooling People

I’m not going to share any visuals from this, because basically anything I could show you from the final issue of Plunge would be just an outrageous spoiler, but if you need a reminder how and why Stuart Immonen is on the shortlist of the best artists in comics, I highly recommend reading Plunge when it comes out in its collected form in November. This entire series was a visual feast, but in its 6th and final issue – which I just read this week because Lunar sent DC’s comics to Alaska either by stagecoach or via the strangest route the world has ever seen – Immonen just lit the world on fire.

All I’ll say is this: giant monsters. Okay, giant monsters and much smaller people. Okay, giant monsters and much smaller people and character beats mixed with final solutions. Basically, what Immonen does with a) scale and b) his character work in the crescendo moment of the finale is astonishing, blowing our minds and breaking our hearts in equal measure. The rest of the series is excellent, but boy, that sequence is one hell of a thing.

Read Plunge. Enjoy the Immonen. It’s really quite good.

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