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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!

Bomb!

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!)

16 Comments

I love this story and because of that love I will kindly request that you break your own rule and publish the second page of this sequence, so people can see how awesome is this comic.

Man, I can’t wait until the HC comes out soon, so I can finally read the rest of this. I found issue 1 in a cheapo bin (presumably after the series was out a while, but before the lawsuit), and it blew my mind (ha HA!). I hadn’t heard of Quitely, and was only somewhat familiar with Morrison (at the time), but man oh man this issue is so good.

Juan: Okay, you talked me into it. I’ll go dig it out and scan it, because you’re right – it is pretty awesome.

Travis: It’s supposed to be out this month, so let’s keep our fingers crossed! (Although it was solicited for 1 February, so it’s already missed its date. Nice work, DC!)

Yeah, DC is too busy missing JL shipping dates to bother not missing Flex shipping dates!

Is tomorrow’s one from that Batman in Scotland story Quitely drew? Mad good, that story.

Captain Comet: No, sorry. I actually don’t own that. It’s a sad gap in my comics collection!

They just recently reprinted it in the trade paperback of Batman International.

Thanks, sir. I thought they had reprinted it somewhere, but I couldn’t remember. Now I’ll have to track that down!

They pushed the hardcover back to April, but it was a slightly more official announcement than the February date (it’s been on the verge of release for almost a year now; there was definitely a point when it was supposed to be November or December 2011, and I think it may have even been initially announced for July or September or something like that). The April one looks like it’s actually going to happen, though.

Dammit, April? urrr. Damn you DC!!! DAMN YOU!!!

hurm.

“I flex a bicep. The sidewalk explodes.”

Wait, a collection of old material has been delayed yet again? How’s that work? Whoops, we misplaced some pages, my bad. I understand wanting to reproduce it well, I’ve seen some poor quality collections, but this seems… excessive.

@Jeremy: In this case, there was the legal matter involved (although you’d think they’d work that all out BEFORE announcing the collection) AND this is being recolored. So it’s not the worst case I can think of, but man, it’s annoying!

(Worst case I can think of right off is when Martin Wagner was reprinting Hepcats through Antarctic, and all the issues were all done. I think it’s because he was doing some new material, and then ended up deciding not to go through with continuing the book, and basically he disappeared from comics. Hmm, think I’ll look him up on the wikipedia….)

My guess is that the delay is so Quitely can do a new cover.

Ugh, recoloring it, eh? That seldom goes well.

@Rob III — unless DC changed their minds, from what I understand, DC was using the cover originally intended for the FM collection (drawn, presumably, in 1997 or thereabouts). So it’s not even THAT!

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