Something that always seems to get lost in year-end lists is that no one experiences just new things. You always have a mix of new and old and the old always get lost. So, mixed in with my top ten comics of 2012, I will discuss five comics (in alphabetical order) that are from before 2012 that I read in 2012 and loved. We begin with... 100% BY PAUL POPE!
In the summer, my shop had a big sale and I picked up two Paul Pope hardcovers, Heavy Liquid and 100%. I was thinking about 'cheating' and including them both here, but decided to limit myself to just one. I love them both, but 100% edges out Heavy Liquid for reasons that I could never properly explain. I love the way 100% meanders from character to character, from story to story, and feels like Pope picked two random moments to begin and end. There's a real sense of being dropped into this world and then taken out at a whim. You want to know what happened before you got there and what happens after you leave. I mean, there are reasons why it begins and ends where it does... but forget that crap.
I'm amazed at the way that Pope interwaves these stories and makes them all compelling. In 'anthology' ensemble stories like this, there are usually ones you love, ones you hate, and then some that fall in the middle. I don't recall anything in this book that didn't grab me, didn't pull me along with the rest. I felt disappointment when he would leave characters and it would fade almost immediately because I was getting to see these other characters that I liked just as much. It's like going from hanging out with one groups of friends to another. A blessed life.
The world that Pope creates seems real. Things are different in the details, but close enough. The characters all seem like people you could meet. I don't know any of these people in my life, because I live a different sort of life from what's in 100%, but I've come across them in quick meetings. While I seem obsessed only with myself, I do love seeing people who aren't me and Pope makes them come alive. He's very good at leaving things unsaid, of creating a sense that there's history and depth in his characters.
And his art! Paul Pope's art... I don't even know what to say. Part of the way his characters look real is similar to what I said about Guerra's art in Scalped: they're kind of ugly and grotesque. And so are real people. Most artists draw generic beautiful people, while guys like Pope draw attractive, imperfect people. That works in harmony with his writing to create that sense of reality and depth that I spoke of. There's so much energy in Pope's art. They feel like his hand was struggling to keep up with his brain while not looking dashed off in any way. There's so much detail and nuance that I can open any page and see something that I haven't seen before. And I've looked at this book quite a bit.
But, why this comic specifically? It made for a nice evening reading it. I drank some coffee, had some music on, and lost myself in these pages. I didn't come out for days despite reading it all in a single evening.
Don't forget, the Blogathon has been continuing every 30 minutes on GraphiContent. I'll be back here in 90 minutes with my #8 comic of 2012.
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