Archive for Coloring

Hellblazer Issue 1

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 14, 2010 by fbombcast

Hellblazer Issue 1

Cover Date: January 1988

Writer: Jamie Delano

Artist: John Ridgeway

Colorist: Lovern Kindzierski

Letterer: Annie Halfacree

Editor: Karen Berger

So the journey begins, not just for me reading this book, but in terms of the book, the journey of readers of the time into the mind of what will become on of the stalwarts of the Vertigo universe, John Constantine.

The character was created by Alan Moore and first appeared within the pages of Swamp Thing #37 and was given his own series from there. That series started in 1988 and is still an ongoing monthly books today. That is approximately 22 years of stories. Not bad in a comic book world where mature titles come and go, and even major superheroes see there books wane and even cancelled.

This book starts with a scene in New York of a man with an insatiable hunger but yet his body seems to be withering away to nothing. From there we are brought to London and introduced-and I say that term very loosely (more on that later)-to John Constantine as he returns to his flat only to find a former friend and current heroin addict, Gary Lester, in a bath tub with bugs crawling all over him. This sets the scene for what readers can expect from this book. Fantastic tales of magic and mystery with horrifying images set to it.

The art in this book is fantastic. While I am a big fan of fully rendered colors that we are used to seeing today, one must step back to 1988 when that was not the norm, and honestly it fits with this title. I do not need the hyper-realistic coloring. What I need are images to disturb my mind that go along with the story that Delano is telling and Ridgeway does this wonderfully.

So Lester is in a tub and with a horrible case of withdrawal, never mind that he has bugs crawling all over him, what would a good friend do. One would first think of getting your friend help, Maybe the hospital, maybe a Rehab, Maybe just trying to find some friends and family . Well, if you think that is what is going to happen, you do not know John Constantine. You see his character and his attitude is basically all about what can help himelf without regard to his surroundings or the well being for those around him (save a very choice few). So it is through this sequence the we are introduced to Chas, Constantine’s friendly cab driver that helps him with the underground of the London streets. Chas has the hookups and provides Constantine with the one thing that will help him right now, a healthy supply of Heroin to get his friend cognizant so that John can figure out what is going on.

After the spike, Lester explains of a exorcism of sorts that he performed down in the Sudan, which quite possibly unleashed a horrible evil into the world. An evil named Mnemoth.

Without much more questioning John is on a plane traveling to learn more, in order to save the world from the demon that his former colleague has unleashed.

Once there, A shaman is met and Constantine goes on a powerful hallucinogenic-induced journey to learn of the atrocities of Mnemoth and what can and most likely will happen if he does not stop it.

We learn the destination of the Evil, New York, and off again Constantine is, this time with Lester, to find an old friend and powerful magician, Papa Midnight.

Very little is explained of midnight except that he and constantine have crossed passed before. We learn that e uses Zombies for body guards and through his speech and his look we can only assume that his main source of magic is the ancient practice of Voodoo.

New York is still suffering from the problem of the insatiable hunger as more and more people are getting rabid for meat yet unable to stop from wasting away. People are found just going through the streets eating whatever they can.

This page illustrates one of the problems I had with this book. The coloring. While it is fine that the page is not rendered (as stated before I actually prefer it for this type of title), what is not fine is inconsistency of color choices. If you look at the infected’s face you can see that it goes simply form the normal peach color of a caucasian’s skin tone to that of Bright red, almost instantly, and then lighter int he final panel. as a colorist, especially a professional one, you are supposed to keep a guide handy in order to make sure that you have such consistency, I doubt that Lovern Kindzierski used such a normal tool that should be in the colorist toolbox. there are other examples where in one panel Constantine has the Wheat like blonde hair that we will come to expect from the character (except in the fantastically mis-cast movie that had Keanu Reeves play him), and then out of no where he has hair a shade of pea soup green. this is very unacceptable for a professional colorist.

Constantine, through his dealings with the shaman in the Sudan, and from Papa Midnight, learns that Mnemoth is fully to blame and searches the demon out to confront him and send him back to the depths of hell from which he came. But alas, Mnemoth is too strong and the issue ends with John realizing that he needs to enlist the help of his friends to take this one out.

I had two issues with this comic. The first was that as a number one issue I think it failed miserable. While I enjoyed the issue and liked the story, I got the strong sense that I was being dropped into the middle of a universe that was created years ago (prior to this issue) and it was my job to figure it out. There were issues mentioned with John’s now dead girlfriend, I assume, Emma, and her ghost later shows up, but there is no explanation as to who she really is or what her character’s role was with our lead. Papa Midnight seems to have a big role, yet besides the couple of panels he is in, there is almost no history or anything given to the character. If I was starting this with issue 13 or even five I would expect this, but in no way do I expect to be dropped like this in a number one issue.

My next issue has more to do with the coloring. Besides the one already mentioned of the inconsistency, there seemed to be weird decisions made with the coloring of narration boxes. If you look at the three panels in the example on the right you would see that the narration box switches from blue to yellow. I automatically assume that the new color denotes a new voice or new character speaking, but this is not the case. it is all constantine all the time. and this is not the only example of it. This coloring choice is seen throughout the book.

When I read a comic, I want to be drawn into the world. I want to forget my surroundings and think only of what is on the page and let the story play out in my mind, but it is things like this that make my mind think a bit too much and draws me out of the story in front of me. If I have to think about who is saying what, and not just of the story as it is written then in my mind you have failed.

Those tow minor issues aside, I really did enjoy this story and cannot wait to get back to you with issue two next week.

Hope you enjoyed my first step into Hell.

TJ

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