Tulsa Boogie Woogie

Well, here I am in Hell. Or Tulsa, Oklahoma as it is better known. It's 105 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade. Everyday. Hasn't rained in a month they tell me. My car burns oil like crazy cuz it is so hot. And if I keep the AC on in the car the little thing burns gas faster. Man. Route 666.

Me and the girl are on our way to New Mexico. Maybe by the time you read this we will be there. Who knows? Her mom is in the last stages of pancreatic cancer here in Tulsa and everything, every exciting plan of action that's forged, is tempered with a cold bath of reality. Y'know foreclosure of the family homestead and all that fun stuff. You know the drill. Just be as supportive as you can and try not to put your foot in your mouth is what I tell myself everyday. Somehow, everyday, I say the dumbest shit. Sorry, honey.

I'm trying to keep drawing but it's been tough on the road. I've reduced my practice down to copying old comic book covers. When I was copying a Chester Brown comic - I would say I was "covering" it. I like the expression and applied to comic book covers the double entendre works even better (see the Covered blog). However, applied to "covering" stories - Kevin H likes to call such projects "Redraws". He said "I'm not really "covering" the story. I'm changing angles and enough stuff that the term "cover" doesn't apply. A "cover" seems to mean a fairly exact copy." So, either way I've been copying old comic book covers to stay in shape.





I talked to Dash on the phone and he said don't write a downer post. He told me to write about an old comic that I like. Get my mind off death with a horror comic. So, I fished around in the back seat and found an oldie and a goodie. I wish I had a scanner but I do not - so please check out scans of the story over at the Grantbridge Street blog.

One of my favorite comics of all time is Weird Suspense #2. It looks like Tarantula #2 but technically Weird Suspense is the title. A family friend gave me a comics collection when I was 5 and this was in the stack. It's from 1975. I thought it was a superhero comic and remember not liking the story. But I liked the art.

I got it in 1977. I've probably read the story twice. It's about mid '70s hoodlums and a spider cult. The lead character devours the hoodlums. He doesn't tie them up for the cops and leave a friendly note. He eats them. That was a stretch for me when I was 5, I gotta admit.

Here's some of the hoodlums' dialogue - written by Michael Fleisher:

"Damn you, Rufus! Why'd you have to kill that cop? You know how angry that makes people!"

"I know! But my great, great grandparents came to this country as penniless immigrants... So I figure I'm paying society back for two centuries of capitalistic exploitation!"

"Well, I guess that's as good as a reason as any for killin' people!"

I think the art really holds up. It was drawn by Pat Boyette. If this comic came out today, I would probably flip my lid. Boyette immediately knocks you out with all the textures and spotted blacks he manages to put into a page. I read somewhere that Boyette drew his originals on what he called "typing paper" - standard 8.5 x 11 inch copy paper. So that means his originals were not that much larger than the printed comic. Meaning the mark he made is basically the mark we see on the page. There hasn't been that much of a reduction in the art. So the textures really pop. All the figures and backgrounds have remarkable form.

Then there's his page layouts. Probably the most organic and naturally weird in all of comics past or present. Lots of diagonal and vertically tall panels that read effortlessly. Boyette's layouts are always clear and always "natural" even when they are at their weirdest. They never feel contrived is what I mean.  Sometimes they are confusing, yes, but never so much so that it takes away from the flow of the page.

Check out the climactic page 17 where the panel borders disappear. Maybe he got rid of them to have more space on the page or maybe it just worked for him - who knows? I like the way the it looks and it changes the colors also because there's no white in between some of the color shapes.

I doubt Boyette did the colors but maybe he made guides. Regardless, the old school colors are great, I think. Green and purples together sort of always denoted "night" or "evil" in old four color comics. So that palette really reads well in this comic. It's kind of a spooky palette that goes looks nice with light blues and yellows. The daytime stuff has a lot of screened down blues and pinks. So there's a nice contrast of light and dark that hangs well together.

Lastly, check out the little detail that Boyette uses to show off. It's the spider web in the first panel of page 13. Is it white ink over black or is it scratched into the ink with a razor? Either way, it's a great little flourish. Really the whole page is full of little details like that - check out the Spider Lady in panel two. Forgive me for not having a scanner - so I could point out the details better. Take my word for it or track it down for yourself. I'm sure it's just a couple bucks somewhere.

Over and out.