Monday, March 9, 2015

Canvas 3.9.2015

I have a friend who draws comics in her free time and is really great at it. She's also probably the hardest worker I've ever met. She takes everything super seriously, and applies herself to everything 100%, so when I say she draws comics as a hobby, I mean I get to hear her fretting over paneling, perspective, color use, ratios, shading, and a bunch of technical terms that have been lost to the whirlwind. It's kind of like watching a force of nature. Super impressive, super inspiring, but mostly you just can't fathom where she gets that kind of drive and energy for something she's not even pursuing professionally. I kind of derailed, but you get it.

Despite having a similar hobby (though dialed back by about a hundred-fold), before I met this friend, I never paid attention to that sort of thing in the slightest. I'm getting back into comics, though, and because of her I can no longer read them without a critical eye. And you know what? It's kind of cool to notice the special effort artists make to tell their stories. This is me admiring Young Avengers 2013.

It's fascinating how much the artist can convey with dynamic paneling. Here, Loki is in the middle casting a spell to empower his comrades while they protect him. Everything relies on him in this moment, so he is the centerpiece, and despite being one of the smaller figures, he looks focused and powerful, isolated from the chaos of battle by his pagan circle. The jagged panels sprawling from the center send your eye darting all over the page, wondering where you should look first, making you feel as if everything is happening at once.

This is the childhood of one of the main characters, spent in a utopian dimension, soon after she loses her mothers. It clashes bizarrely with the art found within the rest of the series, and its vibrancy juxtaposes with the somber mood of the character, making it clear she couldn't be happy staying there. It's also some of my favorite paneling. When the young America decides to break out and abandon the “land of princesses” for a world worth fighting for, panel upon panel are overlaid in the shape of a star, a symbol she wears on her wrist as an adult.

Mister "I'm happy for them" has a crush on Teddy.
A star frames two characters who basically just saved the multiverse with the power of love (and magic, but whatever) while America is moved to tears despite being the fiercest, scariest “good guy” in the cast. Magic-coded stars are all over the place in this series. Whenever America punches a new interdimensional portal into the fabric of spacetime, it's shaped like a star. Loki and Billy use pagan pentagrams for their magic. Stars are sprinkled throughout other dimensions to mark them as “other.” And here, after Teddy gets over an existential crisis and makes up with his boyfriend, Billy is so into the kiss that his powers basically go crazy and he becomes the all-powerful demiurge. Nice kissing, Teddy. So this one massive star to frame the climax is an awesome artistic decision. The powerful way the two in the middle are framed makes the moment feel absolute and final, and the coloring is appropriately beautiful and otherworldly. On the ground, their friends are more plainly framed, suggesting the intensity of the moment belongs to only Billy and Teddy while the villainous interdimensional parasite up top gets blown away. Yeah, it's a weird story.

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