The Big Con has come and gone and that meant that the Comic Book Challenge moved into the next stages. Fifty people were invited to throw their pitch for a comic to three Judges; Actor/Comedian Donald Faison, Shrek Producer John H. Williams, and Platinum Studios head honcho Scott Mitchell Rosenberg. You can find all 50 pitches on the site but that’s a tall order even for me. The judges picked 10 semi-finalists and left it up to us to decided who the winner would be for 2007. A week ago that was narrowed down to three comics. Major complaint about the site before the reviews. We need more then one page to make a decision like this. I fill like we’re being made to decide off of art and personality without even knowing if these guys can tell a story.
Banana Barry by Josiah Grahn – All three strips would not have made this far if they didn’t have a great concept. This one goes with the webcomic alter ego of the main guy having the worst life. I can’t really tell with what’s on the site but I think the protag has super powers but they randomly occur to ruin his life. Almost as if he had bad luck super power. That’s the icing on the cake for a guy who makes a living by dressing up in a banana suit for his crazy uncle, I’m assuming because no one else will hire him. This is the kind of story that makes me ask why Barry even keeps going. At some point you would think he doesn’t pack his bags and join the army. How does Josiah plan to keep readers coming back? You can only watch someone be miserable before something good happens or you start to pity him to much and lose hope.
The one page you can find uses some good tricks to pull you in. You immediately draw your attention to Barry yelling from a pole about his uncle’s fruit. Around him there seems to be some sort of July 4th celebration going on with lights out of the sky shining down on some random couple and Barry stepping down onto some pineapples after getting off of the pole. The lighting did mislead me from the beginning of the page and I had to backtrack to the top panels which I glossed over to see the singing banana man. These two panels set the scene of despair and bad luck I assume we’ll be a common theme. From this page though I get an issue with pacing, it’s down right bullet train fast. This page should have lasted 2-3 pages at least and why the hell did Barry climb up a pole when there were pineapples below it? He’s suppose to have a bad life because of bad luck, not stupidity.
There’s potential in this strip but it would make a better three panel then a graphic novel.
Grey Shades by Shawn Granger – Here’s a comic that had the best story with the worst pitch. I know it’s hard to get up and talk in front of judges but you have to show how much you really want to win. The story is wonderfully old with an original twist. The old part being Casty hears a voice that wants him to kill while the new comes from a chip planted in his head that gives him some really convenient powers. Access to bank accounts, cars, limited premonition, pretty much anything you could imagined if you had a super computer within easy access. Wait, did I just write about a crazy voice telling him to kill? I think I might pass if that is the side effect.
Taking a look at everything other then the pitch I have to say the art behind it looks solid. It’s dark with an Aeon Flux look combined with an excellent use of matting and dark reda and blues that give it a ‘behind the scenes’ or dark alley feel. Only complaint being the over use of rigid paneling. Shawn does have a back alley deal going on he does excellent with that breaks the lines but otherwise it all feels very rigid. Almost as if what we are seeing is a storyboard instead of a comic.
Gunplay by Jorge Vega – Talk about stepping up to the plate and delivering. Jorge had a fantastic pitch that had me yearning to read the book. The description of the beginning of the first book made me understand just how complex and deep Jorge plans to make this strip in exploring the human condition. To be forced to choose who will die every day is something no one, much less a boy, should endure. I’m getting goosebumps thinking about it.
The page displayed is great except that it’s a cover or inseam. There’s nothing as far as pacing to understand from this page so you can’t help but be a little scared. The art is fantastic with a look and feel like those wanted posters from the old west. Kind of a dirty manila look with a crumpled background. Of course this look is going to make rendering large vistas and dramatic moments a little muted but it looks like Jorge has something that looks his and that’s the mark of a great comic.