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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Comic books - They're not just for kids, anymore.

In truth, though, they've never been "just for kids." Or, maybe they have simply always been for the kid in all of us? I'm inclined to believe that it's more a case of comic books being for the imagination in all of us, regardless of age.

Exploring the Comics section of Kickstarter led me to a project titled, "Sex & Violence Vol. 2." OK, so you have my attention.

So, as I load the project page in my web browser, to see what it's all about, the project title image takes center stage, featuring two women, with one firing a gun. To the right and just below that image, there's a photo of a man. His name? Jimmy Palmiotti.

OK, so with a name like that, sounds Italian to me, and with the project image bearing down on me, for some reason, I am thinking Mafia and crime. Jimmy Palmiotti, aka Jimmy the Palm.

The women in the project image, that gun being fired is right next to a pillow and alarm clock. So, it sends a strong visual message that they shot somebody who was lying in bed. I'm thinking Mafia hit men.....er.....hit women.

Scrolling down the page, I encounter an image which appears to be the front cover of the comic book. It's a scene of a guy who has been stabbed, with a nude woman with her back turned to the reader holding a bloody knife. It underscores both the sex and the violence aspects of the title of this project. But, I'm still thinking assassins, hit women - of some sort.

Of course, if you continue scrolling down the project page for this particular Kickstarter, you begin to see other images - including some of war scenes. So, it's beginning to have less of a Mafia feel (Where did that come from, anyway, I ask of my own imagination?), and more of a core violence feel.

But, it's not just and only about violence. It's also about sex, and while sex is a taboo topic for some, it is a fact of life, and it is also a topic of interest for adults, and legitimately so.

The thing about comic books is that, while they are inherently a visual medium, they are also something substantially more than just a visual medium. They are also an exercise in storytelling, and even if a comic book is about sex or violence, much less about both, simultaneously, no matter what the underlying imagery is like, there's got to be a storyline, if the imagery is to be more than a collection of pretty pictures.

Sex & Violence Vol. 2 indicates a Volume 1, which I am not familiar with, as this Kickstarter project is my first encounter with the work of Jimmy Palmiotti and his associated collection of co-creators that have gathered together to put this project together. There's also Justin Gray, Vanesa R. Del Ray, Romina Moranelli, and Rafa Garres.

This project is a graphic novel undertaking, and it was actually the artwork of artist Romina Moranelli which initially caught my eye, as I was scrolling down the project page that very first time. Clearly, the artist understands that there's more to sexuality than mere nudity, and the coloring style for the first tale in this graphic novel collection of three distinctively different stories is beautifully rendered. This first tale of three is titled, "Daddy Issues," and the pale color scheme is a testimony to how color, when used in a subtle manner, adds to the mood and setting of a comic book, rather than visually overpowering the storytelling that is being attempted beneath the color.

The second tale in this graphic novel is titled, "Red Dog Army," and it is a tale set in World War II.

The art here is of a gritty style, which tends to work very well in comic books dealing with the subject of war. Plus, in a graphic novel titled Sex & Violence Vol. 2, a tale about war certainly falls squarely within the ambit of violence. Hell, what is more violent than war, after all?

Nothing, actually. Indeed, war is the fullest expression of mankind's penchant for violence, the apex of man's taste for brutality and carnage on a wide scale.

This tale pertains to a special military unit in the Soviet army that uses dogs as anti-tank weapons. Now, there's an angle! But, I would be lying, if I said anything other than that it is the artwork, itself, which draws me to this tale, raising my curiosity about it.

The third tale of the three in this graphic novel collection, one titled, "Filter," is a story about a killer looking back on his life, and reflecting upon various choices that he made along the way.

The art in this third tale alludes to the dual premise of the graphic novel's title, sex and violence.

Where actual novels are heavily dependent upon a sea of words to make the story come alive,the graphic novel format utilizes imagery to tell a large part of the story.

It is said that a picture says a thousand words, and in that same vein, graphic novels have a tendency to tell a much larger story, in a much shorter length of space. But, brevity of pages is not the true measure of a quality production, where storytelling is concerned. Storytelling is an art form unto itself, whether in verbal, written, or graphical form.

Ultimately, though, even tales about sex and violence are not mere exercises in stimuli taken to excess. No, what they are ultimately about is human drama, which is why such material is ultimately appealing.

Obviously, quality plays a big role in whether the appeal is great or meager.

Effective storytelling is not simply a rote exercise in churning stuff out and tossing it at the public masses. Rather, it's more about grasping how to tell a story with great effect, about knowing what to say and what imagery to provide, to set the mood and to deliver the underlying story in such a manner that it has real impact.

Thus, it must touch the reader in some way, shape, or form, in a way that has meaning to them.

The image on the left speaks volumes, as it is the visual depiction of a scene where a man is being buried alive. The man being buried, his eyes are wide and his mouth is open, implying that he is trying to speak, trying to say something before his grim fate is to be visited upon him. The other man in the scene, he is smoking, his foot resting on a shovel, imply a casual manner. It strikes at the core of what is supposed to be our humanity. This is no occasion for being casual, and yet, here the reader is treated to just, exactly that.

These two individuals juxtaposed in this one scene, it makes me want to know more. I want to know the fate of the one man, and the why of the other committing this foul deed.

In any event, this Kickstarter project caught my eye - plus, it left me wondering. To wonder is to care, to some degree.

Just how much? Enough to back it. Enough to Squatch Kick it!

Jimmy the Palm, you listening to me? You've been Squatch Kicked! Capice?

Project Creators: Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray
Kicktraq Link
Kickspy Link


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