Friday, February 24, 2006
We'll Always Have Paris
Yesterday, the patrons and staff of Big Monkey Comics somehow got onto the topic of Joe Madureira's return to comics with the upcoming release of Ultimates Vol. 3. Everyone was praising or poo-poo-ing how he revolutionized American comics by infusing them with a "cartoony" Manga/Anime sensibility.
"Awww," I said, "Paris Cullins was doing that and doing it right over twenty years ago."
Nothing but blank stares.
In the early 80's, new artists weren't necessarily known for their innovation. To be honest, you either drew like Curt Swan, Jack Kirby or someone in-between. Basically, you drew "classically" or you didn't. In the 80's, you certainly didn't draw "cartoony" and you certainly weren't chosen to launch a title if you did.
That was until Paris Cullins did so with Blue Devil.
I'd never seen like it before. Cullins' art perfectly captured the chaotic, kinetic pace of a Saturday adventure morning cartoon, only on paper. His characters, also, did something that many DC Comics never did. They smiled... alot, as if they actually enjoyed being on the page. Matter of fact, Cullins' people showed wide ranges of emotion on their faces, unlike many "Manga" influenced artists who seem to think "gnashing of teeth" and grimacing somehow equates with emotion. In short, Cullins' set up our minds to "accept" the work of guys like Mike Wieringo, Humberto Ramos and dare I say, Bruce Timm.
So when you're sitting down to read the rollicking adventures of "Super Grimacing Manga Influenced Man," just remember it all had to start from somewhere. For me, it started with Paris.