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WARCRAFT SOARS; ALAN MOORE NEEDS A NAP
By Leroy Douresseaux

May 31, 2005 - 20:39



Welcome to Mr. Charlie Opens the Door #51:

According to former (maybe) gossip columnist and neo-journalist, Rich Johnston (of Comic Book Resources) Alan Moore is done with DC Comics. He’s taking the next installment of his popular series of miniseries, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (the third), to publisher Top Shelf Productions in the USA and Knockabout in the U.K. The reason for this is a number of complaints Alan has had with DC going back to the late 1980’s. At one point, Moore swore never to work for or be published by DC Comics again. That changed when DC Comics bought Wildstorm Productions, then part Image Comics and the publisher with whom Alan had just formed a relationship, from Wildstorm founder and original Image partner, Jim Lee.

Lee and Scott Dunbier, then a kind of editor-in-chief at the studio, reportedly went to England to convince Moore to maintain his relationship with Wildstorm; they even formed some kind of “firewall” so that Moore would only have to deal with Wildstorm and not DC directly, which was, of course, a load of crap. Go to Newsarama or Comic Book Resources and read the various articles and threads for more details on Moore “leaving” DC, but what it comes down to was that in spite of his public declaration, Moore had returned to DC’s teat when DC bought Wildstorm.

There were numerous publishers to whom he could have gone, but how many could give him the market exposure and financial rewards that DC could. Ain’t nuthin’ wrong with getting’ paid! He has bills and a family, and bills and families mean breadwinners make sacrifices; sometimes the strong public stance goes down in the face of financial need. They put up with things they don’t like in order to keep a steady paycheck coming.

The boss at DC, Paul Levitz, the man DC Comics parent corporation, AOL/Time Warner, chose to run the comics company, makes the big calls. Often Levitz’s decisions are not in favor or in the best interest of the sacred artist, but in spite of the times he tortures the poor beasts, he manages to pay these creators quite well. In the end, he makes decisions based upon what he thinks is best for the company. The idea of Jim Lee and Scott Dunbier making guarantees about things that were ultimately not in their control is hilarious, but people do it all the time in relation to their jobs. The fact that Alan Moore bought the idea that Lee and Dunbier could isolate him from their bosses (and in a sense Moore’s bosses and publisher) only proves that even (alleged) genius is crazy most of the time and dumb some of the time. No matter what Lee and Dunbier “allowed” Moore to do or promised him, they’re “only” the employees. The final decision in publishing matters would be up to the publisher, the big boss of any and all DC imprints and studios, Paul Levitz.

If Moore really wanted independence and non-interference more than the secure paycheck from DC, he should have taken the ABC line (the line of books he’d signed on with Wildstorm to publish) to one of the numerous publishers who would have given him artistic freedom, whatever that means. In fact, Gary Groth and Kim Thompson of Fantagraphics Books would have gladly published Moore. Wasn’t Moore at one time planning something with the Seattle-based publisher entitled “Alan Moore’s Comics and Stories?” Truth is Moore will be back with DC in less than five years… because they pay, and they pay quite well, and they can give him the exposure and attention other publishers can’t. To go to a smaller publisher means risk; true artists, rebels, and visionaries take risks.

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You must read TOKYOPOP’s WARCRAFT: THE SUNWELL TRILOGY, VOL. 1 DRAGON HUNT. If you like high fantasy: elves, dragons, trolls, wizards, warriors (living and undead), buxom heroines, mystical other worlds, complex mythological histories, prophecies, legends, swordplay, lavish settings, then TOKYOPOP’s new manga adaptation of Blizzard Entertainment’s popular game, Warcraft, is for you. TOKYOPOP, in conjunction with Blizzard, is releasing this three-book manga series to coincide with the debut on a multiplayer online version of Warcraft entitled, World of Warcraft.

The Sunwell Trilogy follows the adventures of Kalec, a blue dragon who has taken on human form to escape the forces that seek to destroy both he and his race. After Kalec is wounded in an attack, a young maiden named Anveena helps him. Soon, a struggle for survival is turned into an epic quest to save the entire High Elven Kingdom from the forces of the undead, and a motley and diverse group of characters join Anveena and Kalec in this quest.

The first volume of this set, Dragon Hunt, begins with a bit of self-sabotage. There is an eight-page introduction to the Warcraft Universe that is so dense and anal, it could be what’s it like reading homework in Hell – painful homework printed in off-white letters on black construction paper. It’s filled with all those ridiculous high fantasy names and countless millennia worth of all the complex machinations of the characters in this universe, not to mention that some of the stuff seemed so repetitive that I was sure that the writer or writers of the introduction had become confused sometime during the year it obviously took them to compose the intro.

I sooooooooooooooooo wanted to put this book down on several occasions in just the time I was digging my way through the introduction. I was sure that if the intro was that dull, the comic was at least as bad, if not worse. Still, TOKYOPOP had been nice enough to send me a free copy to review, so I felt obligated to read the entire book. All I have to say is thank goodness for feelings of obligation.

It was obvious from the first page of art that this was a special book. Korean born manga artist, Jae-Hwan Kim, is a shocking talent. Not only does his art look like traditional manga, he is also a tremendous illustrator with a strong sense of creating comic book art. His art glistens with duotone and ink wash. He packs his panels with lively characters and lavish and detailed backgrounds. His line work is an intense exercise in creating detail that establishes character, setting, plot, and mood. This isn’t that cutesy-poo crosshatching; this is the work of a storytelling artist with fine draftsmanship.

The story is penned by New York Times best-selling author Richard Knaak, who has written novels set in both the Dragonlance and Warcraft universes. I’ve never read his work before, but I’m very curious about him now. Knaak’s script is a fast-paced story with the kind of action sequences and riveting fight scenes that make a fantasy epic. However, Knaak’s biggest accomplishment is the concise way he uses his dialogue; every words goes to establishing character and explaining Warcraft’s world. There is not a frivolous word, just the opportunity to draw the reader in and make it so that he can’t put the book down, and that’s what successful storytelling does every time.

Until next time, contact me with any comments or questions, and please, go to negromancer.com.



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