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Alex Cox on Stuart Immonen’s Centifolia

by  in Comic News Comment
Alex Cox on Stuart Immonen’s Centifolia

Alex Cox is the co-owner of Rocketship in Brooklyn, NY.

(Image snaked from Stuart’s website)

I have long been a fan of Stuart Immonen… I would read just about anything he was working on, if it crossed my path. He was a always a great designer, and there was a looseness to his linework that had a simultaneous energy and weight that few modern genre cartoonists could pull off.

Then came NEXTWAVE.

I loved NEXTWAVE. It had an absurd sense of humor, was filled with over-the-top action, and was so well beyond “tongue-in-cheek” that the tongue was outside the cheek and across the street. I daresay that NEXTWAVE was brilliant, which is an adjective I likely overuse, but what the heck. This time I really, really mean it.

Immonen’s artwork on NEXTWAVE was so lively and frenetic that it made the pages almost physically crackle with excitement. At the same time, there was an understatement and a sophistication to it all; the confident layouts of every page, the subtleties of body language, the pantomime “performances” of characters. But most of all, there was a striking, stark, streamlining of the design. It was a book I could look at for hours.

ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN was next, and he did not disappoint. I just now opened a random comic to a random page, to prove that you can take any Immonen page and find a marvelous example of design:

Copyright and Trademark 2008 Marvel Characters Inc yadda yadda.

Just look at the movement on that page. Every line is deliberate and evocative, and every design choice makes sense, in a way that is so understated you don’t even notice it, at first glance. Even the way Spidey’s shoulder crooks in the bottom panel- that says something about his age, how he moves, his attitude. The texture on the Goblin’s hands, in the foreground…. the manga-inspired use of motion lines… it’s all just perfect, and this is just a random fight scene!

Needless to say, ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN shot up to being one of my favorite superhero books, the minute he took over. In my opinion, it’s as good a Spidey book as ever there was, post 1967.

The point of all this rambling, is that now you can see Mr. Immonen’s thought process at work in the new release, CENTIFOLIA. You can see gesture drawings, doodles, design experiments, and short strips. It is an invaluable look into the process of someone I consider to be an incredibly underrated modern master.

Also available are 50 REASONS TO STOP SKETCHING AT CONVENTIONS, and NEVER AS BAD YOU THINK, which are lovely example’s of Immonen’s non-genre work. (I think NEVER AS BAD AS YOU THINK is one of the better fiction comics I read last year. It’s snappy and charming and moves like the type of movie nobody ever made, but should have.)

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