Wednesday, June 2, 2010

THB - Comics From Mars # 1

people playing sportsHR Watson doing her thangWriter/Artist: Paul Pope
Publisher: Adhouse Books
Published: July 2007

Comix-365 is back! And what better way to kick start things with one of my favorite artists/writers: Paul Pope! (That, and I just recently met the guy in Toronto at the TCAF show - but more on that later.)

THB is one of those comics that is largely overlooked by the mainstream. This is a shame...I consider this series a diamond in the rough. It's the perfect cross between adolescent rockabilly and high-minded Sci-Fi. This particular issue has four tales. The first is an awesome 5 page graphic of Popes futuristic sport, Zoo Ball. The second is a history lesson from the main character HR, and the third is, well I'll let Pope describe: "Fun! Comics - The UR-PEOPLE are the unseen continuity mechanics living between sequential phases of meta-fictive time/space." This is in my opinion the best tale of the four. It has a certain quirkiness, not unlike the film "Being John Malkovich" but crossed with a Disney-esque pedigree. Finally the final tale concerns the famed Bumble Hipshakes that only a certain gangster on Mars can make.

As Needs more pathos!stated above, a few weeks back I attended Toronto's The Comic Art Festival. It celebrates and discusses comics, with a focus on independent creators. The reason I attended was to catch the panel discussion between Paul Pope and Dash Shaw. The panel was neat. It was cool to actually hear some thoughts and opinions from one of my favorite comic creators. He seems like a nice guy, a bit introverted, but not in socially-shy way. What I found interesting during the discussion, is that Pope is bit of a paradox. He comes from indie roots, produces amazing indie works, but also has an active and widely sought out style by mainstream press. He's been in GQ, Playboy, has worked for the big guys, DC and Marvel, and so on... one of the possible reasons for this dichotomy stems from his work on THB.

Father of Battling BoyAs I had mentioned earlier, THB has yet to capture a mainstream audience. There have been an handful of issues over the years, and while each are golden reads, THB's stunted success seems to be bit of a frustration for Pope. Here's a magnificent series, but it has yet to be fully appreciated. And Pope wants to be appreciated. As an artist, this is paramount. While producing art for a singular audience is rewarding in of itself, it is so much more rewarding to have a larger audience embrace and demand more of your artwork. THB is series that screams to be appreciated, not just because it's awesome, but because it bleeds awesome. So, as Pope mentioned in the discussion, one way to get his message, his art, his way of thinking out was to tackle the superheroes. He want after the big guy - Batman. He wanted to reach a larger audience. What better way than the greatest fictional comic character in history?

What is interesting about this statement, is that it worked. On me. I never heard of Paul Pope until I read Batman Year 100. I was blown away. I got it. I saw and embraced the Paul Pope vision. Now I'm hooked.

More Comix 365 articles:  

Weird twisted freakshow of a person
Basil Wolverton Plop!
Wolverine feasting on Jean Grey
Wolverine Lord of the Vampires

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