Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My excessive reading

It´s been a while since my last entry. As mentioned I had a few difficulties with the internet and when it was finally up and running again I didn´t find the time to write something new.

I´m still doing that course from the Unemployment Office and lately I don´t get much sleep so I´m really tired when I get home and I try to sleep a few hours. Maybe it´s just me but lately it has been really tiresome with all the sporting activities and the excursions we´re doing. I guess I have to face the fact that I´m not a young man anymore. There´s so much stuff to do and sometimes one of my brothers uses the internet cable so I have to wait till the next day to do a new post. I also should get to do the next translation for HORST one of these days before Geier forgets my name and classifies me as persona non grata. Man, on some days I just don´t know where to start.

Yesterday I sat down to finally remedy that situation and got sidetracked again !

So Today I´m hoping to do a full post. Back in July ( Oy ! ) I got some review copies but I didn´t write about it because I wanted to get some background information about the writer / artist of the comic so I postponed it. Instead I wrote about HELLBOY IN MEXICO to which I still have to do the follow up about THE CROOKED MAN. But now Terry Hopper ( who was so nice to send me the review copies ) over at ComicbitsOnline did an exclusive interview with David Gordon so now I have run out of excuses.

Back in the day when I first mentioned review copies - I have changed the text in the about me section to If you have any comment ( or want to send me some review copies ) please drop me a line in the comment section or send me an e - mail so that people are aware that it´s okay to send me stuff - things seemed so easy. Well, since then there have been no huge packages from DC, MARVEL, IMAGE, DARK HORSE or any of the other companies like expected and the one comic I DO get takes me forever to finish my review of it.

And before we get to the meat and bones part of this post there´s one last thing to add : since I lost the internet connection in the middle of WORLD WITHOUT SUPERHEROES month I have decided to expand it - at least till the end of this month. If I will continue next month with it or if it will be a section that will be reactivated if need be is something I will decide later. But now to the comics part.

MY EXCESS written and drawn by David Gordon

The comic in question is MY EXCESS by David Gordon and it´s most definitely not a superhero comic. Which on one side is good because it fits right into my WORLD WITHOUT SUPERHEROES MONTH on the other side it falls outside my field of expertise - which is not so good. Before sending me the first two issues I was asked if I have problems with adult material. Which set my alarms ringing right away.

Unlike on other blogs I write, I try to keep this comicblog open for all readers going for an " appropiate for all ages " rating. Nevertheless I was relieved to find out that the " adult part " of MY EXCESS mostly refers to the content of the stories and not to the art or anything of a too graphic nature. I have had problems in the past especially with the COMICBABE BATTLE posts where some readers have complained about a few of the pictures I used. But I try to keep this blog about the right kind of adult content. I mean there is " adult content " in the sense of the comics I used to read as a teenager ( like Alan Moore´s SWAMP THING or Jim Starlin´s DEATH OF CAPTAIN MARVEL ) which treats it´s readers like adult, conscient people without showing explicit graphic stuff. And there is " adult content " in the sense that it contains a lot of blood and guts and naughty bits and sex and everything is full frontal.

So far I have mostly avoided the latter on this blog ( let´s see how far I´ll come with this attitude when I do the next part about Jordi Bernet ) and I was relieved to find out that I don´t have to worry with MY EXCESS in that regard and it´s not as risky as other series I read like TAROT WITCH OF THE BLACK ROSE - one of my guilty pleasures. It´s always frustrating if I have to censor the pictures to illustrate my reviews. For this review I have mainly chosen covers by Dave Gordon because not only are they in full color they also look better than his black and white interiors.

I tried to find some pages online but as with most artists that are not recognized by the critics ( and in Dave Gordon´s case I have to add " not yet " as I´m sure it´s only a matter of time before he gets the wider recognition he deserves ) there are not that many articles about his work. I have found a page where you can get the first two issues of MY EXCESS ( as well as some other issues ) as a pdf file - for free ! - but with the low resolution I couldn´t post them here in a manageable size. In any case I´ll include the link so you can check them out for yourself.

MY EXCESS by noted fetish artist David Gordon ( at least that´s what I read on the internet ) is something of a cross between a greatest hits, showcase presents and upcoming projects comic.

Since I haven´t made my own interview with David I´m not too sure about the genesis of the title and what it´s initial purpose was. I´m also not very familiar with the british comic scene and it´s going ons. In Germany it´s very difficult for artists to find good writers - or any writers at all that are willing to write stories for comics. So most german comic artists who also write their own stories do so out of necessity.

In the case of David Gordon I think he had other reasons ( if I read the interview right ). The first issue of MY EXCESS is 48 pages in black and white - issue two 44 pages - plus a full colour cover printed on glossy paper ( 180 to 200 Gramm I think ) for 2.36 EUROS. So it´s not as expensive as all the other comics out there. Both issues present material from various serials that may have appeared somewhere else plus sketches, unused material and comments from the artist.

The first issue has the first part of the LITTLE EVA story, an illustrated DERNA story and a few sketches and pin ups. Issue two includes a BLACK SKY story, an ETHEREAL story, another story about DERNA ( this one using the normal comic format ) and more sketches.

So far LITTLE EVA is my favorite part of the whole bunch and I hope the graphic novel sees print very soon.

I have to admit at first I thought this was the usual cliche ridden story of high school teen drama with the typical lolita girl who has trouble in school and suffers under an abusive father. Well, that was just my dirty mind at work. LITTLE EVA is much more complex and a superbly written story about loss, human pain and the ways in which people cope with it. I won´t get into more detail because I don´t want to spoil if for potential readers.

The art is very subdued - at least compared to much of the art in the superhero comics I usually read - but effective and very solid. Especially in the quiet scenes that make up great part of the story. At least I hope it´s that and that I didn´t get a faulty copy. I read somewhere that one of the markings of a truly great comic artists is that he makes the most difficult things look very easy. To transmit information - and even more difficult - the atmosphere of a scene or the emotions of the characters like anger, disgust or desperation to the reader without words is a task even seasoned pros struggle with and sometimes fail. Dave on the other side makes is seem effortless when he does it. If you have seen this story you know why David Gordon is called UK´s Milo Manara.

There are only two things I would comment on. Number one : as a somewhat reluctant inker I would like to see a bit more shadows in some scenes. Which may be a moot point if the pages are going to be coloured in the graphic novel. Numer two : it´s over too soon. The excerpt ends with a surprise ending that I for one did not see coming. As I said : my favorite part of Mr. Gordon´s oeuvre I´ve seen so far.

DERNA on the other hand seems to be a different story. Now this is where it gets quite graphic and and what I would label as hard - boiled. The illustrated story in issue one ( which would be easier to read with simple white letters on the black background ) is more a description of the character of Derna that goes in the bondage / fetish / goth direction. Sex and violence turned up to eleven. I´m just not sure if the character in this story is the same as in the story in issue two. I mean, it obviously is the same woman just going by the looks. In the first story she´s described as the ultimate death dealer while in the second story she doesn´t seem to be quite there. It´s like she´s more still on the path to becoming that person.

Now I hoped the second story would shed new light on Derna´s story and what makes her tick but like all good writers David Gordon answers three questions while at the same time he raises seven new ones. After the story we know her full name, that she´s wanted by the police for murder and something about her family history ( no spoilers here, sorry ). What we don´t know is : what is the full story behind it ? Is Derna really as crazy as she seems ? What is it exactly she got away from ? Are the two cops in the story really on the straight and narrow or are they corrupt cops who want to pin something on Derna ? Why does her mother call her by a different name than Derna ? And what´s up with her mother anyway ? Is the woman in the story even her mother ?

In any case it´s another of these multi layered stories that seem to be Mr. Gordon´s signature. There´s more to find out about DERNA and it seems the fun part is getting there.

Issue two begins with the first part of BLACK SKY, the first of the new ongoing series so I think we get in on the ground floor on this one. The story uses some of the ingredients of the best mystery / espionage stories like a mysterious secret organization ( at least I think ), a young girl on the run, agents who want to get her back and a mysterious ally whose identity is unknown.

Being the first chapter of an ongoing story it´s difficult to judge but so far it´s entertaining without falling into the usual traps of using numbers for the members of the secret organization ( they just showed THE PRISONER on german tv ) or colours ( done to death after RESERVOIR DOGS ).

The last story in issue two is - as it says in the introduction page - the new run of ETHEREAL that starts where the last story ended. Don´t worry, it explains what has happened before and gets right on to the action. Here David seems to flex his muscles in the mystery / supernatural genre combining it with the mundane world. And once again he seems to be quite at home in it.

Rounding up this roller coaster genre mix are the usual sketches and behind the scenes pictures which I always find interesting because you can see how Mr. Gordon evolved as an artist and storyteller. If I should describe MY EXCESS to somebody else I would say it´s like a Wündertüte ( I think the closest translation would be surprise bag ) which is something from my youth. You could buy them at the paper store and those were sealed bags and you had no idea what was in it. There would be sweets in it, toys, stickers, Rubbelbilder ( click here for an explanation what that is ), stuff and - a comic. Sometimes just a regular comic, and sometimes.....if you were lucky.....a pocket sized comic book. I had the luck to get some NICK and SIGURD reprints by Hansrudi Wäscher that way.

There was a store that got a shipment with a few of those bags and I went to buy more as soon as I got some money. So, in the same sense MY EXCESS has a few surprises for the reader but I have to add you have to pay attention. There are some very subtle hints and quiet things that are not to be overlooked.

But of course you don´t have to get the Wundertüte without knowing what´s in I said you can skim the issues - and some others as well - right here as pdf files

And as promised here´s the interview with David Gordon on ComicbitsOnline

If there´s one thing I would add ( I know, I´m talking too much again ) is that MY EXCESS is the kind of comic I go to conventions for. I mean, yes, you can get your comics at discount prices there or the sketches by your favorite artists but what I always look for is the stuff you don´t get in most comic shops.

The comics by artists who do have the skills but who don´t get picked up by the comic companies. It´s a myth that quality always overcomes everything and if you are good enough you will find your way. In most cases the best artists have to do it themselves but fortunately there are now more ways of getting out to the readers thanks to the internet. I have met a few artists on conventions who have managed to get their big break later on and I´m proud to say I knew them back then. Like David Gordon.

More about David Gordon´s work :

  • David Gordon´s MY EXCESS homepage

  • MY EXCESS blog
  • some images NSFW !
  • MY EXCESS on Deviantart

  • MY EXCESS on Facebook

  • four of David Gordon´s comics reviewed

  • two of David Gordon´s comics reviewed

  • review of DERNA - Liquid Messiah

  • New to the blog ? Everything you need to know about TALES FROM THE KRYPTONIAN :

  • top ten posts

  • more posts of interest