Best Sequential Art Ever (This Week): Emma Rios, Troy Little, Kevin Huizenga
The comic book, animation, illustration, pinup, mashup, fan art and design communities are generating amazing artwork of myriad styles and tastes, all of which ends up on the Internet and filtered into ComicsAlliance’s Best Art Ever (This Week). These images convey senses of mood and character — not to mention artistic skill — but comic books are specifically a medium of sequential narratives, and great sequential art has to be both beautiful (totally subjective!) and clear in its storytelling (not so subjective!). The words and the pictures need to work together to tell the story and create whatever tone, emotion and indeed world the story requires. The contributions of every person on a creative team, from the writer to the artist(s) to the letterers, are necessary to achieving a great page of sequential storytelling.
It is the special nature of comic books that we’re celebrating in this all-new recurring feature: Best Sequential Art Ever (This Week).
Throughout Pretty Deadly, Emma Rios continually takes chances with her layouts but it tends to work consistently well. Not everyone could pull off some of the pages she's drawn and still keep the reader following along where they should be. This page is the perfect example of that. It shouldn't work, really. The scattered panels across the larger page should be confusing and difficult to read, but instead they flow seamlessly. The words are spare, allowing the action to breathe properly with no over-narration. The last half of the page is a particular triumph -- the reader's eye can and does flow from the end of the eighth panel all the way through the rest of the page in the proper order. The row of square panels that divides the bottom of the page slows the previous breakneck speed of the page beautifully.
The Powerpuff Girls are awesome and have been since their debut as a Cartoon Network animated series. Fun fact, though, is that so is the new Powerpuff Girls comic from IDW. Troy Little has really captured the spirit, feel, and look of the original animated show and comic without retreading old ground. This page is silly, definitely, but it is also a piece of clear storytelling. The charming arrows from point to point of the Professor's trap, allowing even the youngest of readers to follow the action. But there are subtle pieces of storytelling that allow the readers' eye to follow the action even without the arrow -- for instance, panels six through nine each show a piece of the trap that was shown in the previous panel. The placement of the sound effects also helps guide the eye, from the "clik" at the beginning of the page to the final resounding "chunk" at the end.
Ganges has a number of pages that are just terrific in terms of storytelling, but this page manages to put into words and art that feeling of being awake at night and stressing out over life. The lead character's face as he navigates through his mental representation of his life's calendar shows the wear and tear that the stress is producing with just a few lines here and there. The choice to visualize this mental process as a sort of computer interface works really well within the page and the overall comic but also gives the reader something familiar to reference in their own minds as they read.