Fri 8/26/2005

Well, after months of talking about it and hinting at it and dropping links to Aaron's website, his big comic book Spiral-Bound is finally out from Top Shelf Productions. I've read it three times now and I can safely say that it is one of the most amazing works of Comics I have ever read.

I'm sorry, but you really HAVE to get this comic book. I cannot recommend it enough. And by now, you should be able to find it in any Comic store in the country. Any bookstore worth its salt should have Spiral-Bound on the shelf too!

For those of you in New York, Aaron will be doing a book signing at Giant Robot on Saturday from 3pm to 7pm. It's at 437 E. 9th Street (b/w 1st and Ave A)

And now I will ramble and GUSH about why I have been waiting for a comic book like Spiral-Bound for my entire life...

The first Comics I really became obsessed with as a small child were The Adventures of Tintin by Herge. They had all of the volumes at our local library and I devoured them. They were filled with mystery, adventure, humor, unforgettable characters, and beautifully detailed drawings. But there were only 24 Tintin books...

I made a quick segue to Disney Comics at about the age of seven and stayed there, horribly obsessed, for the next five or six years. In the mid-80s Disney Comics were being published by a company called Gladstone. They had a few new artists, but most of their titles were filled with reprints from the old Dell and Gold-Key publishers. (stuff from the 40s, 50s and 60s)

I read ALL of the titles they printed, but my favorite BY FAR was "Uncle $crooge." And ALL of the best Uncle $crooge stories were by a Comics artist named Carl Barks. Barks is afterall, the person who CREATED Uncle $crooge. But more than that, he invented the WHOLE WORLD that $crooge, Donald and his Nephews inhabited. Through a run of more than 500 stories and THOUSANDS of pages, Barks created the city of Duckburg and its many inhabitants. And his stories, much like Herge's were filled with adventure, mysteries, exotic locations and every panel was beautifully drawn.

But Barks retired in 1966. And various companies had been reprinting his Comics ever since. Most of the CURRENT artists drawing for Gladstone STUNK. Even as a child I remember being disgusted by other artists' attempts at Uncle $crooge stories. Eight year-old Alec: "BLECH! That's not the REAL Uncle $crooge!"

But then, in the late 80s Don Rosa appeared out of nowhere. And his Uncle $crooge stories were INCREDIBLE! It was as though Carl Barks had come out of retirement! Not only were the stories exciting (and VERY true to the world Barks had created) but Rosa's drawing style was like nothing else I had ever seen. It was INSTANTLY recognizable, not only because of the way he drew the characters, but because of the INSANE ammount of detail that he packed into every panel.

I used to sit there for HOURS, reading and rereading Don Rosa comics--examining every inch of each panel. And every time I reread a story I would find something new. Little gags were hidden everywhere, mini-subplots would unfold in the background, inside jokes from old Barks stories were everywhere. All of the detail Rosa drew made this incredible world that Barks had created even MORE real.

And really, it was Don Rosa's art that made me start drawing Comics.

I used to take my favorite panels and copy them, trying to get EVERY little detail. I learned to draw the Disney Ducks in Rosa's style. And that eventually led to creating my own characters and drawing my own Comics. And it's been downhill ever since... :)

ANYWAYS... The point of all this is to say that Aaron's new book Spiral-Bound is the first work of Comics I've seen in the last 15 years that has been of the same caliber and quality as these Comics I loved as a kid.

In just 180 pages, Aaron has created a world every bit as exciting and fascinating as Barks's Duckburg. Like Barks, Renier uses anthropomorphic animals to populate his city "Estabrook." But instead of just Ducks, Geese, Dogs and Mice, Renier employs a regular MENAGERIE of animals--elephants, rabbits, mice, birds, WHALES, dogs, foxes, rhinos, snakes, porcupines and bears--JUST TO NAME A FEW. And each animal has a NAME and their own personality, a job somewhere in Estabrook, a home, friends, likes and dislikes.

And like Rosa's, Renier's pages are WONDERFULLY packed with detail. And I do mean that they will FILL YOU WITH WONDER. Each time I reread Spiral-Bound I see something new. Some detail or little joke or subplot happening in the background. The settings and backgrounds are so intricate you wish you could just dive into the page and go explore Estabrook for yourself.

AND ON TOP OF ALL THAT, it is a fantastic story. I mean, someone could come up with a great universe and have awesome drawings, but they still might not be able to tell a good story. NOT SO with Spiral-Bound. The plot is compelling, full of mystery, the pacing is excellent with a dual-storyline that keeps things interesting and the characters are so endearing that you can't help but love them by the end of the story.

...but you don't have to take MY word for it! (ba dun dah!)

Seriously though, everyone should get this book. It is a great example of why Comics are such an incredible art form. And Aaron Renier is one of the most promising story-tellers in the form working today.

1 comment on this entry

Woa! I agree with Alec.. Aaron's crafted a beautiful universe to get lost in. I love comics with immersive backgrounds that you can go back and find new things again and again, and Aaron has supplied 180 pages of it.

nate Aug26

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Well, as I'm sure most of you guessed, I didn't get EVERYTHING done that I wanted to this week... ..
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NOT ONLY did I get a lot of drawing done this weekend, but I also did a bunch of fun, awesome stuff ..