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365 Reasons to Love Comics #335

The epic conclusion to Ellis Week! What’s your favorite fictional comics imprint? (Archive.)

12/1/07

335. Apparat

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So one day, Warren Ellis decided to create his own fictional line of comics, an Apparat Singles Group. Its purpose: see what would’ve happened if the superheroes never existed. See what kind of comics the pulps would’ve evolved into. Write an issue of a book with one of those concepts. Avatar Press was kind enough to indulge him.

Four titles emerged: Simon Spector (art by Jacen Burrows), a modern-day Doc Savage with a strange drug problem; Angel Stomp Future (art by Juan Jose Ryp), a sci-fi/bodymod world; Quit City (art by Lauren McCubbin), an aviation adventure; and Frank Ironwine (art by Carla Speed McNeil), a detective story. Only one issue of each was ever released; ’twas as if our world briefly coincided with a parallel universe and we got some of their comics instead.

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Frank Ironwine was definitely my favorite: the story of a shabby detective with none-too-shabby detecting skills, a return to the detectives of old who solved crimes with their heads and understood how people worked. Detective Ironwine looks and acts like a mess, but he gets people. He also knows that cities are built on bodies. It leads us to some great moments, and allows Ellis to write one of his favorite kinds of scenes: the interrogation scene.

The script’s sharp and witty, as always. The art by McNeil is lovely, as well– every character’s drawn as rounded as they’re written (if that makes any sense). Fantastic linework and figure drawing in this. Heck, I even love the lettering. And that shading on Frank’s suit– yeah!

I would buy every issue of a Frank Ironwine ongoing.

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Apparat was a really clever idea, playing with both genre and form– two things I love to see messed with, especially in comics. But, you know, it was this one-shot deal. Or was it? Ellis is still using the “Apparat” title, this time for standalone graphic novella experiments– comics with spines made for the comic shop, not the bookstore. I believe “Crecy” is the first of these. I’ve gotta track that one down.

The Apparat singles are available in a collected edition from Avatar, if you haven’t tracked them down in their original form. Which one was your favorite?

12 Comments

I really enjoyed Angel Stomp Future, even if (or maybe because?) it was kind of a dumping ground for a bunch of ideas Ellis had kicking around his head. And Ryp’s art was fantastic – I prefer his work in black & white.

Frank Ironwine was a close second.

Haven’t read these, but Crecy was… ok. It’s a bit more didactic than I like in my comics, as it keeps me from getting fully involved in them, and it wasn’t so much a story as it was a humourous historical recounting of the events that take place.

Ellis week rocked though. :)

I have some nice comic books (spiderman, etc) need to sell really cheap.

Frank Ironwine and Simon Spector were my two favorites, and coincidentally the only two I was ever able to find in stores. Angel Stomp Future was alright, but Ryp’s art came across as a little too cluttered for my tastes in black and white. Quit City was honestly just baffling to me. I mean, I can’t even see how it was intended as an “aviation adventure” like the description claimed, seeing as how the entire comic took place on the ground and boiled down to little more than a woman walking around her hometown and reminiscing about her tragic past as far as I remember.

Did I miss the Frank Miller entry?

I really enjoyed Angel Stomp Future, even if (or maybe because?) it was kind of a dumping ground for a bunch of ideas Ellis had kicking around his head.

Which, I suppose, is why I didn’t like that one. It read as if he had just taken a few of his thinking-out-loud Bad Signal messages and used them verbatim as the script. Interesting concepts, but it was essentially a blog entry with the lead character talking to the audience instead of Ellis himself.

I did like the others, even Quit City, which seemed to be basically: “Okay, this genre is dead. What has it left behind?” All three of them, though, had stories to them.

Got to be better than Tangent or Amalgam!!!

Which, I suppose, is why I didn’t like that one. It read as if he had just taken a few of his thinking-out-loud Bad Signal messages and used them verbatim as the script. Interesting concepts, but it was essentially a blog entry with the lead character talking to the audience instead of Ellis himself.

A lot of the imagery was actually cribbed directly from short fiction pieces Ellis posted on his website.

And, if I recall correctly, even he admitted Quit City didn’t quite work since it was an aviation adventure that was light on both aviation and adventure.

Also: Ironwine was essentially Columbo as a drunk.

But, none of that means the stories, including Simon Spector, weren’t entertaining. Each had its appeal, and I would definitely buy ongoing versions of any of ‘em.

Is Doktor Sleepless also an Apparat book? Thought I read that on Wikipedia, but you can never entirely trust Wikipedia, so…

Sonuva…Frank Ironwine is the only one I haven’t tracked down. Grr.

Quit City was good, but the other two were fun. Weird that there’s a difference, huh?

I really enjoyed the Apparat singles, as well. Frank Ironwine was easily my favorite of the bunch. I loved the empathy and compassion displayed during the interrogation scene, and think it’s a nice refutation to those who think Ellis only writes hard bastards. Simon Spector was also rather great. The other two weren’t really my cup of tea, but my love of Frank Ironwine made the whole line worthwhile to me.

Will

afforable healthcare…

vest spinach hurries fortresses.apathetic …

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