Why I read comics… #002

Why I read comics… reason #002:
Paul Pope

I was first made aware of Paul Pope from leafing through (what was then) my current issue of Wired magazine. The article was talking about Pope’s then upcoming mini-series for DC Comics, Batman: Year One Hundred. The concert intrigued me right away, mainly because it was so out there; Batman, not as a 100 year old man as the title first made me think, but as a man 100 years after he became the Dark Knight, STILL fighting crime! And by all accounts, still doing it well! Along with the article, and what really grabbed my attention, were some art samples from the book. I believe I went to the comic store that very afternoon to see if they had it in stock. Mind you, this was at a point in my life where I wasn’t reading comic books regularly, though I soon would be, but the art captured my imagination so well I felt I immediately needed to pick up this book.

And I certainly wasn’t sorry when I did. Paul Pope has a wonderfully quirky, non-conventional artistic style that makes anything he touches worth picking up. And that’s not even taking into account his writing. Pope, truly a comics auteur, writes, pencils and inks all his work. And, if I’m not mistaken, he’s even been known to handle lettering duties as well. As a whole Pope’s writing is fun, fast-paced and totally original. And at it’s best, as it is in his series 100% from Vertigo, his writing is truly touching and honest with well developed characters we relate to. Quite an accomplishment when one takes into account the science fiction slants Pope gives to the settings of many of his stories.

Last year when DC Comics announced their ambitious Wednesday Comics series (I wrote a little about the hardcover collection of this series here) by far the most exciting news for me was that Paul Pope would be contributing a 12-part story starring Adam Strange, a character I knew very little about at the time, but that didn’t matter.

Every week as I picked up the new installment of Wednesday Comics I would immediately turn to Pope’s page to follow the latest episode of this tale. As always the art was gorgeous, the story was swash-buckling and fun, harkening back to the old Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon comic strips… in short, just about everything you’d want from a comic book. Oh, and did I mention the army of angry blue baboons?

The more I read from Paul Pope the more I wanted to read his work. And here’s the only downside, Paul Pope is anything but prolific. While some of his works have been collected and are in wide release (100%, Heavy Liquid, Batman: Year One Hundred), many more are rare and hard to find unless you’re willing to shell out on eBay (Escapo, The One-Trick Rip-Off, Sin Titulo).

But there is plenty to look forward to in the future. Pope is currently at work on Battling Boy for for First Second Books (and word has it the story has already been optioned for a film by Paramount), and is also working on compiling his long-running series THB for a definitive hardcover anthology collection. No word though on when either of these will be published. Early word was that both books would be out in 2009, which has sadly turned out to not be true.

And this is all without mentioning Pope’s time working in Japan for manga-giant Kodansha,  or his work in fashion design screen printing. There’s a wonderful book of Pope’s art that’s available called PulpHope that I’ve been enjoying lately and showing off on my coffeetable. I don’t know what the future holds for Paul Pope, or when for that matter, but whatever comes out in the future with his name on you can rest assured that Spaceman Spiff will be first in line at the comic store.

tags: batman, paul pope, vertigo, Why I read comics

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