I’ve been downing comics at horrifyingly high rates thanks to Marvel Unlimited (which probably means I’ll never do part 2 of my Exiles “review”. During the experience I’ve been getting opinions and thoughts and wishing I had more money to support all of the good books that came out or that are still coming out. But one thing I’ve been coming up against while in my binges is when pages stop readers in a bad way. When the elements of the page don’t come together it is problematic so I am gonna talk Wolverine and the X-men and King City at you.
So Wolverine and the X-men is a lot of fun but the first few issues bogged me down as I tried to read them (and the guided view didn’t help much). Chris Bachalo does a lot of excellent things with the layouts but the lettering is really problematic when tied in with everything else. Bachalo fills his world with details and it is fantastic – but, and it may just be Rob Steen on the lettering, but my eyes get lost. The words are densely backed to the edges of the bubbles so the negative space vanishes/ There are literally too many things happening to be able to focus meaning the reader can get taken out of the comic.
And if this were just an action scene that would actually be really cool – but you have a lot of text from Jason Aaron getting tossed in and it is easy to get lost, to get disoriented and that is a shame.
Dropping some more X-amples here.
And I have nothing against details in comics or comics with lots of stuff in them. Let’s look at King City for a second. King City by Brandon Graham gets the benefit of being written and drawn by one guy and lettered by one other person. The fact that it was also able to come out when Graham wanted it to as opposed to on a tighter schedule also probably helped. And we can bring up color and how black and white lines let it do this though Multiple Warheads (which I don’t have digitally) didn’t suffer the issue – though the colorist helped.
Graham does dense scenes with built in worlds and lots of characters. He adds in lots of detail – a king of minimal line details as opposed to James Stokoe for example. He can add depth but still have focus, you can read his comic more easily letting your eyes float between the words. He directs his panels with intent that can seem missing in the Wolverine and the X-men issues.
So maybe my issue with Wolverine and the X-men comics from the discongruity, the words and art and letters being separate pieces, from a team trying to find their peace together on the page.
As a writer though, it is something to keep in mind. You have to learn to write for the artist, the artist has to learn to draw for the letterer and the colorist ties in everything towards the end. With a schedule it can be hard to do and sometimes issues happen.