Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Blood Feud

Alan Moore, Tony Daniel & Kevin Conrad Blood Feud (1995)
I have to wonder just how much Alan Moore must have hated DC that he ended up as beard in residence at Image Comics; and yes, I'm aware of Image having redeemed themselves in recent years, but Lordy they published some horrendous shite back in the day.

Spawn wasn't necessarily a bad idea, but then it's probably debatable as to whether the resurrected instrument of dark vengeance ever really counted as an idea beyond something gruesome for Todd McFarlane to draw. I read those three issues Grant Morrison wrote, because Grant Morrison wrote them, and they were okay if nothing amazing. Blood Feud is a four-issue series wherein Spawn's eldritch trousers come to life and have a fight with him, handily recycling the saga of Spiderman having a scrap with his own costume - actually a shape-changing alien called Venom - another McFarlane masterpiece. Alan Moore was drafted in to write the thing, presumably because him do word stuff good, so there are some nice ideas here and there, and the dialogue doesn't suck so hard as it might. I'm not even sure McFarlane was involved beyond some editorial capacity, but it feels as though he was.

The problem is that the art is fucking horrible, just really awful. As with certain others who caught a ride on the Image monster truck, it's comics drawn by people who learned to draw comics by reading and copying comics and nothing else, unless you count a video game. It's all crosshatching and lurid detail distracting from the figurework of someone who never took a life drawing class, or who took a life drawing class but spent most of it reading earlier issues of Spawn. Faces are awkward knots of muscle concealing too many teeth, and there's so much baroque embellishment it's not always immediately obvious what's even happening on the page; but nothing, not even voice balloons wherein dramatic words like blood and dead are printed red, can conceal the fact that the artist can't fucking draw. Terms such as highly stylised or exaggerated don't cut it as excuses either. This isn't Pablo Picasso finally concluding it's okay to paint a woman's eyes on the side of her head. This is cartooning subject to the same process of reductive recursion as has resulted in wildstyle graffiti art and the logos of black metal bands; and the concept is at about the same level as hey, wouldn't it be cool if the covers of all those Iron Maiden albums were a comic book?

Then again, on the letters page we find thirteen-year old Chase Samsel opining that another problem is this thing where you and Greg Capullo both pencil - it looks queerer, okay? Cut it out. Which I suppose neatly summarises audience expectation, specifically that they're happy providing it doesn't look all queer 'n' shit.

The best which can be said of Blood Feud is that it allowed Alan Moore to buy food and to stay alive long enough to write something better.

See what I mean?

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