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Escapists #4

Posted: Monday, October 16, 2006
By: Martijn Form



Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artists: Jason Shawn Alexander and Steve Rolston, Matt Hollingsworth and Dave Stewart (colors)

Publisher: Dark Horse


Plot: Three teenagers are making a new comic: "The Escapist." But it isn’t an easy task.

Comments: Let me begin with a statement taken from this issue's letter page:

“I believe that the trade of critics, in literature, music, drama, is the most degraded of all trades, and that it has no real value--certainly no large value…However, let it go. It is the will of God that we must have critics, and missionaries, and congressman, and humorists, and we must bear the burden."


I love this quote. I like sneering at the critics and reviewers, especially since I’m a critic myself. But enough laughing at myself. Got a job to do here.

We have landed on issue #4 of this The Escapists six issue mini-series. If you are already buying this book, bless your heart because you are a hardcore comicfan. If you're waiting for the trade then wait softy!

Vaughan is a writer with a great magic hat, where he pulls out all kind of excellent stories. If there is going to be a major literary award being given to a comic writer, my money is on Vaughan.

This issue provides a lot of sophisticated themes. The first one is the great contradiction in art styles. Steve Rolston handles the story of Case, Max and Denny trying to be successful with their comic book, "The Escapist." His style is like Becky Cloonan (Demo) or Ryan Kelly (Local), loosely based on realistic human anatomy, but with a nice cartoonist twist. Clear ink lines give the faces a nice and lucid emotion. Alexander is doing the stuff that Case Weaver is drawing in their comic book. It’s miles apart from Rolston: Moody, dark, almost horror like, but it blends surprisingly very well in this book. After the first three pages where Alexander is pulling out some great art, the next pages are mellow but profound. Vaughan raises the old discussion about the purpose of art, which really made me think about his confessions. He does it all with captions while the dialogue tells a whole different story, but they connect somehow. Great craftsmanship.

When Denny says, “Well you get the picture,” it's juxtaposed with a nice piece of sequential art. The dialogue is a very common expression, but the panels shows us a man who indeed is taking a picture of denny. When the sculpture Vaughan is talking about in the captions is revealed, I thought it’s a fantastic panel to look at, especially if you talk about freedom and the next panel is of murdering women with their mouths stitched together. And Vaughan takes it even further; Case and Denny want to do a whole issue of The Escapist without any words or dialogue.

When a so-called "fan" wants to acquire the rights to "The Escapist" there is the theme of art versus money. Can they live on the same page or not? Vaughan explores it, but he could have been more detailed about it. I'm sure it’s a thread that we will see in upcoming issues.

The next scene when Case and Max are doing a signing to promote their comicbook, they are being stabbed in the back by a lovely looking lawyer. Life imitates art is being shown in their actual comicbook, where The Escapist is double crossed by the Luna Moth he just helped to escape.

How about that. Brian put a lot of thought into this series, and it shows big time.

This isn’t an action book. It’s mature reading, and it’s a blast. Vaughan is handling the material so well that I can’t wait for his next major project.



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