Recently I've been digging back into my youth by checking out some comics that I loved while growing up. Reading the stories and seeing the artwork again for the first time in years brought back a lot of memories. I picked up a collection of X-Men reprints (it actually seems like a small telephone book) that showcased the collaborative team of Chris Claremont, John Byrne and Terry Austin. It was this collaborative team that got me hooked on hero type comic books. Although the reissues were done in black and white, I think I enjoyed it more because I could clearly see the time and effort Austin took in inking each and every detail.
Aside from the artwork, the stories themselves were great and re-reading them now with a critical eye was a lot of fun. It was interesting to see how well an almost 20 year old story actually holds up in today's cellphone, video game, instant gratification world. The verdict? They all held up quite well! If you are planning to see X3 when it hits the theatres this month, be sure to find a copy of X-Men #141-142 which features the story called "Days of Futures Past". DoFP is really the basis of what the X Movies are all about and is in my opinion the best Claremont/Byrne/Austin collaboration still to this date. Unfortunately one issue after DoFP that artistic team would disband. I can still remember being so excited to get the latest issue of X-Men and then seeing Brent Anderson's artwork and wondering outloud what the heck happened to Byrne and Austin!?
I've also been re-reading the Frank Miller Daredevil issues put together in Marvels "Visionaries" Series. It's amazing to see how Miller's artistic talent flourished during his stint on this book. I was saddened when I heard the news that Klaus Janson, the inker on most of Millers run on Daredevil was taking over the drawing and inking chores for the book. Turns out that Miller was going to focus on other projects namely the Wolverine Mini-series and I think Ronin. The term "mini-series" was brand spankin' new at the time and many popular artists jumped on the chance to do a short run book featuring new and interesting characters. As the world would come to see, Janson taking over penciling duties wasn't much different than Miller as Janson kept Millers signature storytelling style. Again, the stories held up and they've even made movies based on Millers story line and characters. Miller's writing style was always gritty with that urban decay of drug dealers,thugs and of course ninjas which was very exciting for a 12 year old!
Aside from Byrne, Austin and Miller, I've also been a fan of Michael Golden (the single issue he did for Marvel's Star Wars run is still etched in my mind!), Paul Smith (loved his style and lines), Bill Sienkewicz, George Perez (Go Titans!), and Walter Simonson (I'll never forget his work on Thor!), Dave Sim and Gerhard (Cerebus), Butch Guice and Authur Adams.
While the "hero" comics got me into drawing, it was Charles Schultz's Peanuts that was my first love. I'll never forget spending hours at a time reading my grandparents Peanuts trade paperbacks (all of them 1st printing I might add!) and wonder how he did it? How did Schultz tell such a great story over and over again using just four panels a dog and a round headed kid? Four simple panels that kept me entertained for hours, laughing and smiling and wanting more. That mystery was passed down to Bill Watterson of Calvin and Hobbes fame, and now to Mutts and perhaps Get Fuzzy as well.
As Kitsy and I work on the story line for nemu*nemu I am always reminded of these wonderful stories that I read while growing up. I hope that our work can somehow reflect those stories that we've internalized in a small way and maybe that wonder and excitement that I had in my youth will be passed on to you through nemu*nemu.