08/24/2017

Sam Ombiri talks ‘Prison Pit’ by Johnny Ryan, while Sally tracks down ‘Thriller’ comics and other news of note.

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Sam Ombiri here: I guess Johnny Ryan is into a lot of different things. He’s really aware of what’s going on, and it all comes together in his work, making this really palatable mish-mash of all these things. His prime directive as an artist is to get you through the narrative in a clear and concise way, without any cause for interruption for the reader (either in the form of the reader not understanding, or an unfitting action or response).

In a funny way, as a result, Prison Pit then feels more tasteful. Johnny’s trying to do more than just shock you. He’s trying to show off how cool and exciting comics can be. I figure he’s responding to people trying to make comics a really respectable medium that you don’t have to justify. Because of this, there’s this side of comics that’s forgotten. Johnny is reminding us with Prison Pit about this other exciting part of comics, not letting it be forgotten while this other side of it is being realized.

I’ve really enjoyed reading and re-reading Prison Pit. It gets really, really awesome at times. It’ll have these excessive, uncontrollably violent blows from panel to panel, then there’ll suddenly be a gag pulled of with a lot of finesse. It all tonally registers and makes plenty of sense, making this established character of what the book is gonna be.

Johnny keeps expanding this world of the “negative zone” in exciting ways. When I’m reading it, I keep asking Johnny as I’m flipping the pages, “Can this get any better?” and Johnny keeps telling me “YEAH.” My favorite part is where this one guy had collected a bunch of resources, and he uses the main character – Cannibal Fuckface – by using some kind of robot to control C.F.’s movements in his plot to escape the negative zone. The book gets really fun at that point.

When we transition to a new being or story element it’s done with so much subtlety. It’s strange to read all this vile, intense stuff with such sophisticated, thoughtful transitions between them. Not that it’s strange to the point that it hinders the reading – far from it. It’s a really impressive book. Every page is a real treat. The drawings start off great and keeps getting better the more you read. It’s all around just a really good time. – Sam Ombiri

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8-24-2017 – Sam Ombiri

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Sally here – I was digging through long boxes at one of Pittsburgh’s New Dimension Comics locations recently, and came across part of the run of Thriller – the series created in 1983 for DC by writer Robert Loren Fleming and artist Trevor Von Eeden (often called DC’s first black artist, and certainly the artist who drew DC’s first African American superhero to have his own title).

Heidi MacDonald called Thrillerchallenging, ahead of it’s time“, while Michel Fiffe said it was “quite possibly one of the most underrated and forgotten gems from modern comics“.

Michel Fiffe wrote at length about Thriller in 2010, not long after conducting one of the best interviews in comics history with Trevor Von Eeden for The Comics Journal (#298). (You can see the outtakes and extras from that interview on Fiffe’s site – which is well worth doing! – but without a subscription to TCJ archives or a copy of the print version in hand, the interview itself is hard to track down.)

Here are a couple of pages and spreads from Thriller #3, which maintains Von Eeden’s “top notch art” according to Fiffe, and “attempts to sustain the manic atmosphere the first two issues created while moving the story along“.

You can see plenty more images from Thriller in Michel Fiffe’s article, and get the complete lowdown on the origin and fate of the series – HERE.

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News of Note

  • Recently on The Nib Bianca Xunise points out that Black Women Aren’t Here to Save You.
  • Gilbert Hernandez found a stash of original 1981 self-published B&W Love and Rockets #1 – and you can buy one! Details HERE.
  • There’s an article on StreetWise from earlier this year about Tim Jackson‘s book Pioneering Cartoonists of Color which is worth checking out.
  • I took note of the creator Leslie Rogers and the strip Bungleton Green in the article mentioned above, and tracked down another article about them both – plus the artists who drew the strip after Rogers gave it up. Read about Bungleton Green HERE.

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Suzy and Cecil – 8-24-2017 – by Gabriella Tito

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Joanie and Jordie – 8-24-2017 – by Caleb Orecchio

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