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CSBG Archive

365 Reasons to Love Comics #276

Continuing our look this week at great current artists, I was at Rocketship recently and got a chance to check out this artist’s recent art book, and oh my goodness, is it gorgeous! Almost as gorgeous as the Archive. But just almost – let’s not get carried away.

10/3/07

276. Paul Pope

On his wikipedia page, Paul Pope is quoted as describing his influences as Daniel Torres, Bruno Premiani, Jack Kirby, Alex Toth, Tony Salmons, Hugo Pratt, Silvio Cadelo, Vittorio Giardino, and Hergé.

It’s interesting to look at those artists, and just try to imagine how awesome a mixture of them would be.

It’s even more interesting to note that you don’t HAVE to imagine it, because that basically is what Paul Pope is – a mixture of a pile of amazing art styles poured into one man’s work. He has the depth of character and the nuance of classic artists like Hugo Pratt and Hergé and the bombastic energy of Jack Kirby and Alex Toth, all while giving his own unique flourishes to it all.

Pope first drew attention for his independent comic, THB.

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Soon, he was working for Dark Horse and then DC, where, for their Vertigo line, he produced the excellent mini-series 100% and Heavy Liquid.

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In 2005, Pope did an issue of DC’s Solo. The book won the Eisner the following year for Best Short Story for one of the stories in the comic, “Teenage Sidekick”, which was about Robin.

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Pope followed up that work on Batman with a mini-series, Batman: Year 100, which was set 100 years from Batman’s first introduction.

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The series won the Eisner this year for Best Writer/Artist and Best Mini-Series. Did I pick it for Best 2006 Mini-Series? I think I did. I forget. Someone go check!!

If you want more superhero action, here are some sample pages from a short story Pope did in a recent issue of Fantastic Four…

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Here is Pope describing his artbook that came out earlier this year from AdHouse Books, Pulphope:

I can honestly say PULPHOPE is the single most ambitious project I have ever undertaken, and also Adhouse’s biggest, longest, and most labor intensive publication to date. Clocking in at nearly 250 pages with an almost square 9.5×10 format, PULPHOPE features page after page of never-before-seen full color artwork, including new comics, samples of my various design and illustration projects, and two large gatefold poster images. There are eight essays, covering a wide body of topics including erotica, science fiction, and child drawings, for a total word count clocking in at just over 30,000 words.

Pulphope is a stunning work.

Pope is doing a new book for First Second that I have just been dying to see come out since I heard it solicited.

Here is Paul Pope’s blog, where he occasionally will post new material. It is where I took all the sample pages above.

18 Comments

The only work I’ve seen from him was Batman: Year 100, and I’m sorry to say I found the art quite ugly. I’d heard good things about him and was eager to pick it up, but was disappointed by it.

I first got into Pope’s stuff with THB and I loved it from the first issue. Personally, I’d really like to see him return to it.

100% and Heavy Liquid were great and among the very small handful of books published by DC that I actually wanted to buy during the years they came out. However, they were still comics where I knew what every issue would look like before it came out. The first issue of each series set the pace for the whole thing. That is, of course, understandable and just what you want with a short novel, where the entirety of it should be of a piece. But, they didn’t have the sense of being totally wide open in the way that THB did.

THB was Pope’s laboratory and it would be nice to see him get back to testing just how much a comics magazine can do – if you’re willing to take some chances.

Damn, I really need to get Pulphope.

Thanks for the reminder.

One of the true modern masters. His flow and composition are just amazing. Actually takes lessons from Manga and translates them into a western/Euro-comic infused American style. And it’s just so damn gorgeous to look at.

My wife and sister both have semi-crushes on him, too.

There’s a “fleshiness” to Pope’s art that is both attractive and grotesque; I can’t say I love everything he’s done, but I’ve never been bored by it.

I thought Pope had already been on this column. But he’s so great I wouldn’t mind listing him twice.

Paul Pope’s art is, like Quitely’s, the kind that people will think it’s either beautiful or ugly. I think it is gorgeous.

Dude can draw bodies in motion better than any other current American comics artist – well, American comics artist.

And Batman: Year 100 was better than the JH3 Batman story. Take that stupid Tom Selleck!

And, hey, what’s the deal with THB? Is it still getting reworked again – and then put in trade?

Stephane Savoie

October 4, 2007 at 11:03 am

My intro to Pope was with his Hark Horse Presents serial, The One Trick Rip Off (available in trade). It was stupendous, and far more legible than many of his other works. Really, check it out.

I thought Pope had already been on this column. But he’s so great I wouldn’t mind listing him twice.

I figured he would have been, too, but I checked, and he hadn’t been listed yet, so that was basically a big ol’ “Well, THAT’S an easy one, then!” :)

And Batman: Year 100 was better than the JH3 Batman story. Take that stupid Tom Selleck!

Agreed, which is why I’ve decided to read the Selleck bit as saying, “Within the main titles,” even if that caveat was not there initially. :)

I love Pope’s work. What amazing and stylistic brushwork. And he can create and populate unique, believable new worlds in just a few pages of characterization and art.

And, when he was creating THB he lived in Columbus, I believe after having attended Bowling Green State University, so there’s another woot woot for Ohio and comics.

There’s something very intriguing about his squishy, grungy art. I read Batman 100 not too long ago and thought it was a fun read despite my quibbles with parts of the story (I thought it would have been better if they left the ID of Batman ambiguous).

It’s funny that people seem to be turned off by Pope’s art, because it’s nto “pretty”. It’s definitely got a knobby, weighty feeling to it that is rarely flattering to the characters’ anatomy, but then again, don’t we have an effect like that in the real world? I think it’s called gravity.

Pope’s stuff is always amazing, and I can’t wait to afford a copy of PULPHOPE.

I’m not totally sure, but I think THB is being collected in 2009 by First Second. And in 2008 he has a project called Battling Boy coming out. The years might be reversed on these, again I’m not certain.

Thanks Lambo. Here’s hoping for 2008 for THB. (Dude, it’s good enough. Leave it alone for a while.)

I’m still unsure about Paul Pope as a writer.

Heavy Liquid was pretty terrible and The One Trick Rip-Off was merely okay.

There is something compelling about his art though

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