Keep it confined!
The Intimates #2
It’s telling that the most immediately memorable thing about this issue is that the bottom-of-the-page text scrawl vanishes about ¾ of the way through. It’s set up in a rather clever way, though, I must admit, with the non-scrawl pages taking place entirely at night and involving a quiet conversation between two of the young superhero students featured in the book. I’m tempted to say that the flashy accoutrements have no place after dark, when all is quiet, and it’s time for conversation between friends, and thus the sudden simplification of the book’s visuals is intentional, perhaps meant to make some sort of point about the information overload of teenage school life. But maybe I’m giving writer Joe Casey a bit too much credit, and the silly info scrawls had just become tiring to work with. They were amusing to read (though let me be the thousandth voice raised against white letter on yellow backgrounds), but imminently avoidable.
The overall visual style of the book is generally quieter this issue, with less of those chunky yellow arrows drawing attention to typical comics narrative techniques in an effort to either make the average seem innovative through judicious highlighting or carve out a quick visual identity, or maybe both. The storytelling draws less attention to itself (though we still get the occasional HOLY SHIT!! LOOK AT THIS - A PANEL DEPICTING WHAT A CHARACTER IS THINKING!! WOW! FOLLOW THE FUCKING ARROW!!!), and Giuseppe Camuncoli (pencils) and Sandra Hope (inks) handle the character art very nicely. Casey’s characterizations are nothing special, and he seems to have a loose grasp on Punchy’s use of slang, but there’s a fair sense of futile rebellion breaking through the surface of the characters. It’s difficult to really get into this book, though, as so much of it so difficult to engage with. It rarely seems like more than just a lot of typical teenage things that happen. And superpowers.
Ojo #3 (of 5)
Forgot to get this last week, so here it is, the center issue of Sam Kieth’s tale of a little girl and her Lovecraftian pet. Kieth had two art assistants last issue, which is now down to only Chris Wisnia, who has been promoted to above-the-title billing, replacing Alex Pardee. I also never noticed until now that “Scott Pilgrim” mastermind Bryan Lee O’Malley is co-letterer with Hope Larson. Funny the tings you notice halfway through.
The art gets a whole lot simpler this issue, but much like in “The Intimates” the most extreme differentiations are confined to certain sequences of fixed atmosphere and environment, which makes it hard for me to tell if I’m looking at an intentional stylistic shift or a simple on-the-fly act of ease or necessity. Anyhow, there’s a sequence this issue where little Annie chases her pet around her grandpa’s office, and the art grows extremely simplified as she runs, occasionally resembling basic storyboards for an animated cartoon, or even pencil sketches. Lines grow very loose and environments are barely identifiable at times under a nest of sharp lines and harsh crosshatches. But while this may have made for an interesting look while the characters are in movement, it extends even to moments of rest in the scene, making the art look simply half-finished. And yet the visual quality jumps right back up after the scene shifts, so who knows? Maybe this batch of pages was left to the end than swiftly hashed out, or maybe it was just a (for me) failed visual experiment?
We get a little more info story-wise, as the creature plot begins to tie more directly into Annie’s sense of loss, and we get more of Annie’s awful, confused sister’s cruel shenanigans. It’s a middle issue. It remains one of Kieth’s stronger recent works, visual issues aside (and it’s indeed rare for me to even find troubling visual issues in a Sam Kieth book).