Sunday, January 19, 2014


Since the last time I wrote on of these posts, I've actually had two columns published at PopMatters. One last week on the expert pacing of Prophet, and then one this week about Loose Ends and the frustrations of reading an unfinished series in general. By the by, the newest issue of Prophet (#42) is a perfect example of the series telling a compressed story while still expanding on and stretching out its over-arching narrative. Also this week, my new "1987 And All That" looking at the major flaws in the cast and concept of Young All-Stars was posted on The Chemical Box. It was not a good series, but they can't all be.

Something I Failed to Mention
I gave both artist Chris Brunner and colorist Rico Renzi due credit for their impeccable contributions to Loose Ends, but there's one specific thing they both do (or, maybe more accurately, that they do together) that I didn't address because I felt like it required visual aides and I didn't want to clog the PopMatters post with too many scans. There are a fair number of flashback scenes sprinkled throughout Loose Ends, showing various points in the lives of different members of the cast (though they all involve Sonny, Rej, or both, I'm pretty sure). The present-tense action of the series is done in vibrant colors, has non-traditional layouts and panel borders, and is peppered with other surreal or fantastical visual elements as well. The flashbacks, on the other hand, are more solid and steady in their look. Renzi washes them in a single dominant color, typically some sort of sepia tone, though even then he manages to switch up the exact feel/atmosphere by giving each era its own hue. Below are the first three panels of three different flashback sequences, not shown in the correct order, but just laid on top of each other for the sake of a color comparison:

Each one is basically all yellow, orange, and black, but they're all still distinct from one another. The top one is a little brighter and more sandy, since it's set in a desert. In the middle is the oldest memory, a childhood memory, so it's the most faded. It's also the saddest of the three. Finally, there's the warm golden glow of the glory days of high school. The limited, similar palettes Renzi uses here mark each of these scenes as being set in the past immediately, yet he still makes sure that they stand out from one another, because not every memory is viewed through the same lens. 

Brunner also tightens up in the flashbacks, all of his panels bordered by straight lines, neatly set next to or on top of one another in nice, even rectangles. Sometimes there's a panel overlapping another, but even then, they are perfect geometric shapes. Everything is more traditionally composed, which places memory and reality in sort of reverse positions in this book. In our world, real life appears consistent while memories morph and warp and become permanently distorted. Loose Ends has the opposite dynamic, where the shape of the present is hard to pin down, but the characters' views of their past never waver. I don't know if this was an intentional flip-flop or something that came organically out of trying to make the flashbacks look distinct from the other scenes, and probably it's somewhere in between. It's a neat and effective artistic tactic no mater what the motivation behind it, and just one of many such impressive tricks Brunner and Renzi pull off.

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