by Michael Vance & Dr. Jon Suter
February 24, 1999
Reviews in this issue:
Comics Legend - Reed
Comics Legend - Reed Crandall
One of the first artists to 'raise the bar' for the quality of art in comic books tragically ended his life by another bar.
Originally considered a short-lived fad, comic books were often churned out with no consideration for the quality of art or story. When the industry stabilized, however, Quality Comics began to raise industry standards with artists like Lou Fine (on Dollman), Will Eisner (on The Spirit) and Reed Crandall on Blackhawk).
Crandall's art was heavily influenced by earlier magazine illustrators who used "cross-hatching" and "feathering" to give the illusions of shading and depth to their work. Cross-hatching uses tight grids of lines, and feathering uses clusters of tight parallel lines to create these effects. Time consuming for an artist, it is particularly effective in black and white pen work.
Crandall often used this technique on characters or in titles including: Stormy Foster, Ray, Uncle Sam, Dollman, Firebrand, Hercules, Blackhawk, Midnight, Capt. Triumph, Espionage (1946-'49, Quality), Capt America and misc. genre work ('41-71, Marvel), Tops Comics ('49-'50 Gleason), Kayo Kirby, Sheena, Kaanga ('41-'45, Fiction House), Treasure Chest ('50's+, Pflaum/Denison), crime, horror, SF, war and New Direction titles ('53-'55, EC), Classics Illustrated ('60-'62, Gilberton), Gunga (early '50s, Buster Brown), Hercules Unchained, Twilight Zone, Supercar covers ('59-'62, Western), NoMan, Dynamo ('66-'68, Tower), Flash Gordon ('67, King), and work in the early 1950s for Pine, Avon, Eastman Color, Ziff-Davis and Harvey publishers. Some of his best work was published in Creepy and Eerie magazines ('-64+ Warren).
Although prolific and uniquely talented, Crandall suffered from alcoholism. It destroyed his career in comics, and he ended his amazing life as a janitor.
Reed Crandall's work is highly recommended.
Some older comics are expensive and difficult to locate. Price guides or comics dealers help. Comics shops, conventions, mail order companies and trade journals are best sources. Prices vary; shop around for the best values.
Priced at $4.95, 44 pgs. From Image & Dark Horse Comics. Story by Warren Ellis, Chris Spouse pencils. Sold in comics shops and by mail.
The alien bugs are back. Now the only question left is who will fight and exterminate them... again. It seems a reasonable assumption just from the title and cover of Wild C.A.T.S/Aliens, the latest and obvious attempt to cash in on the popularity of the Aliens movies and the superhero genre.
It is a questionable assumption, and dead wrong.
Tightly plotted and precisely scripted, this comic book kicks as...aliens. Dialog and characterizations are believable. Even if you are unfamiliar with or uninterested in the superhero genre, you will still care about Grifter, Void, Warblade and cast.
They teleport to a quarantined spacestation circling Earth that has been infested by everyone's favorite acid-spitting monsters. Their less than surprising mission is to bring everyone but those bugs out and back to earth.
They do most of that surprisingly well with some good twists.
Much credit belongs to the artist and his supporting team on WildC.A.T.S/Aliens. They successfully bring an intensity and visual clarity to this story sadly missing from too many comics. In particular, the penciller's clean, distinct style is dynamic without being overblown. Pyrotechnics are climactic only when they are not overused. Muscle boy poses get stale very quickly.
Despite its predictability, this is an intense, rip-roaring adventure. Easily one of the best comics in its genre for 1998, WildC.A.T.S/Aliens is highly recommended for everyone except preteens.
By Image/ Flypaper Press. Three Nasa robots sent to Mars return to Earth possessed by gaseous Martians. When one goes berserk, a scientist, 'SWAT' team, and the remaining Martian automatons battle to stop his bloodfest. Mind candy, but fun stuff. Recommended.
By Silverline Comics. An unusual hybrid of corporate and superhero intrigue set in New Orleans that is weakened by its art. -- Michael Vance
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