The Nerds of the Roundtable are back, clamoring for more press for some underrated creators!
In Outhouse Roundtable, Royal Nonesuch gathers the writing staff of The Outhouse to get to know where they stand in the landscape of comic book fandom. The formula is simple: one question, a joyous multitude of answers.
Week 5: Which creators do you feel should get more attention and admiration from fans and the comic book press?
I've always felt that Skottie Young was just a phenomenal voice in comic book art. I became a fan of his when he pencilled a short-lived HUMAN TORCH series back in the early aughts, but it's incredible how quickly he's evolved from those humble, graffiti-infused-manga styled beginnings to the master of abstracted design and storytelling he's shown himself to be on Marvel's OZ books. Yet, I find very little discussion of his work amongst fans.
Young's OZ collaborator, Eric Shanower, could also get a mention here. Not only has he put together his own "expanded universe" of Oz books, but his AGE OF BRONZE is an exceptional use of historical fiction in comics.
I don't bring up Michael Alan Nelson just because I recently interviewed him, but because I genuinely believe his soon-to-be-wrapping up 28 DAYS LATER, and all of his other work at Boom! Studios (and there is a lot of it) are really solid, fun stories, particularly DINGO and HEXED. I would definitely recommend 28 DAYS LATER to not only fans of the films, but to fans of Robert Kirkman's THE WALKING DEAD, and other action-adventure stories with a strong human bent.
Also, in a less individual sense, I'd have to say that I wish comic book colorists would get more press. It's been a difficult journey for color in comics. From being considered an afterthought in the Golden and Silver ages to suffering through immense growing pains in the 90's, and all the over-rendered, overwrought difficulties that decade gave us, color has become so integral to the process of creating comics, particularly in the last decade, that they deserve the same status as the writers, pencillers, and inkers. Two of my personal favorites are Christina Strain, particularly on Runaways (though she's apparently leaving comics to go back to school), and Val Staples, who is not only an unsung hero in the industry, but also on the book where he does his best work, CRIMINAL. That book gets so much of its emotional depth and eye-popping visual jazz from Staples. Let's give the colorists some love, fans!
I'd like to see Brian Reed get more attention and perhaps a shot at a high profile book. During his 50 issue run on MS. MARVEL, Reed managed to take a character who had pretty much been in the background for years, break her down, and build her back up. In addition, he did this amidst constant event tie-ins while making the book seem relevant and more than just filler. I'd say few modern writers handle tie-ins as well as Reed. He also created a memorable budding romance between Spidey and Ms. Marvel, which I'm hoping sticks around for years, and I really liked his take on how things like that become canon in the interview we did with him a while back:
Brian: Well, the thing that makes the lore stick is the stuff that the fans like. The stuff that comes back and it's like, "I wish I'd seen more of that. Oh, I love that!" That's the things we always go back to. You always hear fans freak out and say, "oh they've changed everything," but if you look, the things people love are the things that keep getting touched on. New stuff gets built and everyone hates it when it happens, and then, ten years later, everyone is like, "Why aren't Spider-Man and Ms. Marvel dating?"
Brian: It's really kinda cool to learn how that eco system works and watch things come back and see people go, "Wow, I really like this character. I want to see more of them."
He also co-wrote that Ultimate Spider-Man video game, which was fucking awesome.
I've been reading the SENSE AND SENSIBILITY HC and Sonny Liew's art has been very impressive. His work is fluid, unique and lively.
Tom Beland's Marvel work is simply fantastic. His work shows a lot of heart and thought in them. Why he doesn't have an ongoing gig is beyond me.
On a related note, Beland's FANTASTIC FOUR partner Juan Doe doesn't seem to get enough props. He's created some of the best covers in the past decade.
Letterers in general deserve more recognition, a good letterer is a must for a comic, because without one... you couldn't really read it. Letterers play a big part in forming a book too, can you imagine Walt Simonson's THOR without the letters of John Workman? The decision by Marvel to use Workman for Matt Fraction's current run automatically recalls that classic run, and plays a big role in that book. Joe Caramagna lettered every single issue of the 'Brand New Day' era of Spider-Man, and gave the book a different look, especially with regards to Spider-Man's inner monologue boxes. And a recent example that I really liked was when, in the last issue of DAREDEVIL (#512), we finally returned to Matt Murdock's inner voice, and that man Joe Caramagna again, re-used the same font and style he used throughout Brubaker's run, seeing those boxes was like returning home or something.
Letterers, you may not think you notice it, but you do.
My other unsung hero is Bill Finger, the writer who pretty much created Batman. It wasn't really Bob Kane, who was a hacky charlatan, Bill Finger was the man who really came up with everything we associate with the Caped Crusader, and it's a damn crime that he doesn't get a credit for his role in creating Batman, having random streets named after him in Gotham City isn't enough.
Honestly, editors seem to play just as big of a role in the creative process as the writer or illustrator. I always knew that occasionally they'd take more active roles in certain story lines and were often blamed for creative misfires in various big-ticket books (COUNTDOWN is the best example of that). However, when talking to creators, I've discovered that most of them really value their editor as a vital and undisposable part of the creative process. For example, did you know that the acclaimed "Create Your Own Adventure" story in THE UNWRITTEN was envisioned by Pornsak Pichetshote and not Mike Carey or Peter Gross?
In terms of individuals, I really feel like Cullen Bunn and Sean McKeever are two writers that deserve a lot more praise. Cullen has created something special in THE SIXTH GUN and it's baffling that more people aren't reading it. McKeever is a writer I'm admittedly biased towards, but he has a knack for taking one note characters and really fleshing them out. Sure, he works well with "teenaged characters", but it's a talent that has and could bring life to countless characters. I'm glad that he's doing the FEAR ITSELF tie-in with Gravity, Firestar and the Initiative cast because it could give him and a group of characters that's been missing for a little bit a chance to shine.
I second the colorist statement. Christina Strain is my all time favorite colorist. She made RUNAWAYS for me. Her use of bright colors and dark when needed was brilliant.
As far as writers for me Kathryn Immonen is really under-rated. Sure she's gotten a lot of books lately but most people have kind of put her in the chic-writer category. Her RUNAWAYS was the best take on it since Vaughan's. HERALDS was very good for what it was.
Another writer who is underrated is Majorie Liu. A lof her work has been with Daniel Way (who many fans can't stand) but her work on X-23 is amazing. I really hope that Marvel gives her something big one of these days.
Jackson "Butch" Guice has been underappreciated for years, but finally, after three decades in the biz, he is working on some high-profile books and projects and getting some long overdue attention. But it still isn't enough in my view. What I like best about his work is that it retains that classic John Buscema look, and yet has a vibrant, contemporary feel to it. It's both heroic and gritty looking. Guice did some excellent illustrations in CAPTAIN AMERICA recently, but my favorite work of his is the two-part WORLD WAR HULK crossover in IRON MAN from a few years ago. He nailed those two issues. I hope Guice lands a big event book soon. He would make it look like an instant classic. I think he would be especially well suited to work on Batman. He'd be a cross between Adams and Aparo.
Do YOU have a question you'd like to pose The Nerds of the Roundtable? Leave that question in the comments below, or let Royal Nonesuch know!
Written or Contributed by: Royal Nonesuch