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Read the comics online for free!

UPDATE 4-9-2012: I have a “real” website now! Check it out over at www.robertbrudos.webs.com, it has a LOT of comics on it!

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Below are links to the comics! It’s best to begin by reading the prologue, as the stories make more sense that way. Each of these comics is an imaginary short film by THIS GUY.

Prologue

The story begins, and a rivalry between artists grows bitter.

Issue #1: The Twins (Le Jumelles)

Two young women, bound by blood, vie for the crown of their kingdom. But Satan has a horse in this race…

Issue #2: A Voyage to the Moon

Two stories in this one! In the first, the creatures of myth set aside their differences to engage in a contest of skills in a whimsical silent story. The second is a forgotten draft of Melies’ most famous film, Voyage to the Moon, with a less crowd-pleasing ending.

Issue #3: The Island of Dr. Moreau

Melies attempts to film H.G. Wells’ classic horror story, but there is a mismatch of storytelling styles. Also included is the long-lost short film, “The Man Whose Bi-Cycle Wheel Grew Too Large”.

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I’ve started doing other stuff too, including some new comics! Check out the menu at the top of the screen.

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Putting this website together is a labor of love, but if you enjoy it, please consider donating! Any amount is greatly appreciated.

I’m also selling the first four chapters in a pretty little zine/book that is re-edited and includes sketches, photographs and the original covers for the series. Make a donation of $8 or more and I’ll send it out to you (this includes the cost of shipping and handling)! I also sell the individual issues for $2.00 each (the $1.00 covers shipping and handling). Just send me an email with your donation and tell me what you’d like!

Of course, you can just give me money too! ;)

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Posted by on August 25, 2011 in Georges Melies Comics

 

Review of Down by the River by Turner Mark-Jacobs

I have a soft spot for low-key debuts by cartoonists: many small-press artists want to come right out and make the next Dark Knight Returns, and they get crushed under their own ambition. Self-publishing is the perfect venue for that project that interests you as an artist, and this retelling of a western folktale (that I’d never heard of) will obviously attract a bit of a niche audience.

I think I offended the artist when I met him at the Albuquerque Zine Fest and described this book as being “like one of those weird obscure one-shots Marvel put out during the eighties that went immediately into discount back-issue boxes”. The truth is that when you read those issues, the names on the cover include Mignolas, Allreds and Willinghams, and everybody needs to “cut their teeth” before word gets around and people start reading their stuff. I have no idea what Jacobs’ fate is going to be as an artist, but his obscure storytelling choices don’t necessarily put him in bad company.

I had to read the book twice to follow the story, because the sparse word balloons and uncluttered line word encourage the reader to breeze through the book in a way that the story doesn’t support. A traveling farmer in the old West rescues a drowning stranger, and is then given a foreboding warning that it’s “bad luck” to do so. Later, in the same river, he finds a dead Sheriff. He receives strange and unsettling “help” from an unnamed stranger, and decides to move away from the cursed Tules river. He discovers that the stranger (“Captain Jack”) had killed the Sheriff and faked his own death: later, his farm floods, and Captain Jack comes to rescue the farmer and return the original favor. The story is a very barebones Western tale that really only exists to showcase Jacobs’ ability to create a mood.

His drawings suggest a mix of Mike Mignola and Guy Davis (of The Marquis and B.P.R.D.), a slightly sketchy style that appears to have been drawn with a thick ink pen. It is an appealing and readable art style that I really like, but the real star of the show here is the coloring. Jacobs hand-watercolored every panel in this book, and every single one could hold its own as an evocative Western piece of pop art. The book alternates between washed-out brownish landscapes and blood-red dream sequences. Backgrounds are simply rendered and the facial expressions are all fairly cartoony: everything points back to the watercolors. This is an “artist’s book” if I’ve ever seen one.

This really does remind me of an old Marvel one-shot, where artists were given free reign to do interesting things in a way that doesn’t happen anymore. It’s fun to pick it up and just stare at a picture at random, letting a few lines and some painterly brushstrokes really wash over you and draw you in. I hope Jacobs draws another one.

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

The Vagus Street Project

At this year’s Zine Fest, I met a husband and wife artistic team who showed genuine interest in my Melies comics. This gives me the kind of excitement that most people get when they see free puppies on the road, so I am probably biased when I review their book. Then again, zine culture is so specialized and intimate that ideas like “bias” probably don’t carry much weight anyway.

The Vagus Street Project has a wonderfully creepy concept: in the 1960s, “visionary” (read: insane) architects designed modernistic housing projects for the poor. Utopian planning was big in the sixties, but when the drugs wore off, many poor people were stuck living in nightmarish and unstable “works of art”. John and Jenn Myers have imagined such a project, and they’ve set their modern-day ghost stories within its walls. Like Phil Hester’s The Wretch (which I reviewed earlier this year), the “hook” is strong enough that I like the serviceable stories as well as the good ones. I’m happy that someone thought of this idea and drew it.

The undercurrent of race that runs through these stories is gutsy, and it lends a pit-of-your-stomach sense of reality to the otherwise somewhat cheesy ghost stories. Supposedly, the Vagus Street Project survived one of the worst race riots of the 1960s, and we can only assume that this event has something to do with its haunting. Most of the current residents seem to be black, and “Something Moved in the Schoolyard” features an old black man reminiscing about his childhood in the Project. But even more than race, class permeates the entire series. It would be more crowd-pleasing to see rich people receiving comeuppance from the ghosts of poor people, but that’s not what happens. All the project’s residents are poor (it was reopened for people affected by our current recession), so we get the decidedly NOT crowd-pleasing spectacle of poor people being victimized by the ghosts of poor people.

All the stories are five pages long. In a way this is really cool (like little glimpses into this uncomfortable word), but it’s also pretty limiting. We don’t get enough time to care about any of the characters, who never reappear. We never learn anything about the ghosts, so we’re left with short stories about anonymous poor people being haunted by incomprehensible ghosts. The art style changes every issue (Jen Myers has a wonderful range), and all the stories I’ve read are told in a different style. One story was silent. They are interesting, but they aren’t given a chance to be much more than interesting. The series does not have a discernible beginning, middle, or end, which is kind of a shame. On the other hand, it does kind of add to the “glimpses of another life” feeling.

Anyways, I’m glad that something came up with this idea and then drew it. For all the frustration zine culture causes me, this is the kind of neat thing that it occasionally produces. Comics were made for this: unusual but interesting ideas that would be butchered if they were picked up by Hollywood. This comic stayed in my head for a while after I read it, and it made me think about class in a much more critical way than some half-assed anarchist zine ever could have.

Check it out at http://vagus.typodmary.com/

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Chapter two is coming!

Chapter two of The sea is stormy tonight will post in just a couple of weeks. If you haven’t read chapter one yet, now is a perfect time to do so! http://robertbrudos.webs.com/the-sea-is-stormy-tonight

 

Phil Hester’s “The Wretch Volume One: Everyday Doomsday”

In the mysterious Wretch, Phil Hester has created a character that I love so much that I honestly don’t care what kind of story he appears in. A bad Wretch story excites me more than a good Spider-Man story: this kind of excitement about a character is something that I miss about being a teenager, when a Spawn comic book was all I needed to be happy about life (don’t judge me, I had a lot of angst back then). I stumbled upon the character’s Wikipedia entry a few weeks ago, and immediately ordered this book on Amazon, confident that I would enjoy it. And enjoy it I did, even if the actual stories in this first book were sometimes a bit of a mixed bag.

Wretch is a bandaged silhouette with huge white eyes (think Spider-Man’s symbiote costume with spiky hair), and his costume, which we never see all of, changes based on the needs of the story. His powers also change each issue, based on the rule of cool, and he never says a word in the entire comic. The stories all follow the same basic rhythm: a resident of the wonderfully named Glass City is threatened, either by supernatural forces or by more mundane threats like racism or domestic strife. The threat is introduced and plays itself out, and then the Wretch comes in and uses his strange magic to solve the problem. His solutions follow an odd, dreamlike logic of their own: in one story, the Wretch takes the wedding ring of a man who was murdered in the snow and builds a snowman, placing the wedding ring into the snowman’s chest cavity. The snowman melts back into the no-longer-dead murder victim, who may or may not have received supernatural powers from the ordeal. Stuff like that.

These unlimited “rule of cool” powers detract a little from the suspense of the stories, although I’m not sure if a book like this is really SUPPOSED to have suspense. I personally would have enjoyed a story or two where Wretch turned out to be helpless in the face of some tragedy, but maybe Hester was going for a 1940s Detective Comics-era vibe, where an omnipotent avenger goes about righting society’s wrongs and the payoff is in watching him do it. Hester certainly attempts to tackle the touchy social issues of the 90’s and early 00’s, even if I found some of the results a little preachy and simplistic. A racist father who hits his daughter and refers to black people as “colored” is certainly an easy villain, but that’s ALL he is. Another story brings up bulimia and suicide in the context of insecure teenagers being preyed upon by a conman, and while the results are certainly less corny than any of Marvel or DC’s attempts in this area, they are still corny (particularly when the kids “rise up” to say “We’re not afraid anymore”). On the other hand, a story about striking workers clashing with Mexican immigrants is handled quite well. Both “sides” are portrayed sympathetically, and the tale’s symbolic threat touches all the right emotional notes.

All this makes it sound like The Wretch is nothin’ but social consciousness and symbolism, and I don’t want to make it seem that way at ALL. It’s fun and imaginative, bursting with pulpy energy, and the stories move at a breakneck pace. The artsy comics I read are almost always slow and self-conscious, so I always love to read something that’s both artsy AND entertaining. I may complain about the very real cheesiness in some of Hester’s writing, but his stories come from a unique and creative place and he tells them unapologetically, and that kind of renders my complaint moot. I’d rather read Wretch than most of the stuff in the Best American Comics collections, for example.

Aside from all this, Wretch is like the coolest character ever. He’s the kind of superhero you want to get a tattoo of, the kind of malleable avatar who can be absolutely anything the author needs him to be without losing his iconic qualities. I have a real fascination with characters like this: the closest I’ve ever come to creating one is my take on Satan in [shamelessplug: The Lost Works of Georges Melies /endshamelessplug]. It’s harder than it looks, but these are the kinds of characters readers fall in love with. Wretch is a Ditko-style weirdo written with a nineties indie-comic sensibility. If you like comics, it’s a hidden gem.  http://www.amazon.com/The-Wretch-Volume-One-Everyday/dp/0943151686/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1336258355&sr=1-1

 
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Posted by on May 5, 2012 in I Review Other Stuff

 

Lehrer and Creativity

Jonah Lehrer recently appeared on The Colbert Report and discussed his new book “Imagine: How Creativity Works”. (I haven’t read the book, nor do I know who Lehrer is: I can only respond to his two-minute interview and then name-drop him to get more search hits on my blog ;) One of his big ideas is that new ideas are always just recombinations of old ideas, and then he sneakily ties this into his position that copyrights are bad. (His argument was basically that Shakespeare stole openly from others, and everybody likes Shakespeare, so stealing others’ ideas without permission is cool.) Whatever, it’s a hip idea and it’s quickly becoming an unquestioned part of our culture. I’d be more surprised if the contra to this position ended up on the New York Times bestseller list.

More interestingly, he suggested that the best way to solve problems that require creativity may involve ignoring them for awhile and goofing off a bit instead. I constantly berate myself for farting around on the internet instead of finishing the next page of The sea is stormy tonight, but if our minds are doing essential problem-solving during the times that we’re not, maybe I should just accept the fact that reading the comments on Yahoo! News is part of my process.

This might be wishful thinking, but I kind of think that it must be true because it matches up with my personal experience of creativity so well. My good ideas come to me in spurts, and sometimes a whole bunch of them will hit me at once without me “doing” anything to initiate it. When they come, I notice that a lot of them have their roots in whatever I’ve been exposing myself to in my downtime: for example, I’m pretty sure that my portrayal of Satan in the Melies comic series was at least partially inspired by David Bowie’s flamboyant and aloof performance in Labyrinth.

If this isn’t true, then I have wasted an inexcusable portion of my very limited lifetime reading dumb internet commenters, so I’m gonna go ahead and believe this one until someone proves that it’s bunk.

(P.S. Please don’t prove that it’s bunk.)

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2012 in The Creative Process

 

Explain yourself! Mantle: Daughter of Van Helsing

The idea was to capture that weird feel of fly-by-night Golden Age comics, where not much was explained, the whole thing is kind of creepy and intense even though the art is amateurish, and the character is never seen again after one issue. Like one of the 10,000 Batman ripoffs in the 1940s who killed vampires. Loosely in the style of Fletcher Hanks (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fletcher_Hanks).

 In addition, this comic was my first attempt at doing the little “tricks” I used in The Lost Works of Georges Melies and The sea is stormy tonight. I used recurring text (the origin story at the top of each page) and simple, memorable images (the faceless heroine) to build familiarity with the reader quickly and make them feel “at home” in this creepy world. The sudden use of color would also be used again in The sea is stormy tonight.
I really had a lot of fun writing the overblown prose and cheesy dialogue, but I genuinely did want to create a mood. It’s not a parody, it’s an homage. And if you think all this explanation is too pretentious for five sloppy, penciled pages, then you’ve obviously never been caught in the throes of an idea that you just had to exorcise right then and there.
 
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Posted by on April 9, 2012 in The Creative Process

 

Okay, so…

Here’s what’s going on with my cartooning.

a) My idea of posting a single page of “The sea is stormy tonight” every weekday has not worked out as well as I planned. The comic is very slow-moving in some spots (especially at the beginning), and while I was hoping that people would follow it to see where it was going, that seems to have been a flawed model. It’s also probably a tricky time to start a whole new website (www.robertbrudos.webs.com) now that I FINALLY have readers on this one. The new website is so much snazzier though! [pushy]YOU SHOULD CHECK IT OUT![/endpushy] I like having the blog here, this is a pretty good place to talk about stuff and I think some people find it interesting. It’s not the best place to post comic book pages though, hence the two sites.

b) I thought “stormy” would be a one-off, twenty page story with a twist ending. Today, my overactive brain informed me that it will be a long-running series where the characters develop over time. These characters have things they want to do that they can’t do in twenty pages. So the series will continue, and I’m looking forward to doing some more character-driven work (I’m really good at creating moods visually, but as my wonderful girlfriend tells me constantly, my characters tend to just be servants to my plots and ideas). So The Lost Works of Georges Melies is like my weird graphic novella, and The sea is stormy tonight is gonna be my longer-term online comic. The new website will also have some short comics that I did a couple of years ago posted pretty soon.

I have some really good commenters on this blog and I’m really grateful for that. It’s nice to have a discussion place while I work on these stories. Thanks for reading!

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2012 in The Creative Process

 
 
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