Frantic as a cardiograph scratching out the lines, Day 40: Flex Mentallo #1
Every day this month, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. This month I will be doing theme weeks, with each week devoted to a single artist. This week: Frank Quitely! Today’s page is from Flex Mentallo #1, which was published by DC/Vertigo and is cover dated June 1996. Enjoy!
Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s Flex Mentallo is a superb comic (if you don’t believe me, read this dude’s reaction to it), and the first two pages (colored by Tom McCraw and lettered by Ellie De Ville) are brilliant, but we’re just discussing the first page, which unfortunately only gives you half of the effect. Quitely breaks the page down into a standard nine-panel grid, beginning with the weird gangly dude throwing a bomb at the reader. The bomb is a goofy cartoon bomb with “bomb” written on the side, and when it explodes, it becomes the Big Bang. The stars swirl into a galaxy that gets smaller and smaller until it disappears into a blue smudge in the final panel. Morrison’s only textual contribution is the word balloon in the eighth panel, which is a boarding announcement at an airport. Quitely even doesn’t have much to do, unfortunately. The visual idea is interesting – the first panel shows the weird dude against a white background, existing somehow outside of the confines of the comic book panel. Even his right foot “breaks” the panel border, if we want to imagine it. It alludes to some of the ideas that Morrison will mess around with in this series, so while there’s not much going on, it does have a bit of intrigue to it. Of course, the blue smudge turns out to be the impression in the dude’s fedora (which we can see in the first panel) and the dude is drawn on an egg which is broken into a skillet, so both pages turn into a bizarre recursive loop, but the first page doesn’t really work without the second page. I imagine that if you’re curious enough about the first page to turn to the second, you’ll be hooked. It’s just too wacky to put down!
Quitely works with Morrison a lot, and I don’t have a lot of his work without Morrison. This won’t be the last time this week we’ll see this pairing, but tomorrow, we’ll see Quitely working with a different writer. And it’s not Mark Millar! And of course, there are the archives to while away your time.
(Juan asked me to show the second page, because this continues so nicely onto it. I won’t post it here, but I’ll link to it!)