Wednesday, January 24, 2007
See the Elephant
Image Comics has come a long way since the creation of the company by a group of ex-Marvel freelancers. Todd McFarlane's Spawn and Eric Larsen's Savage Dragon proved to the comics industry that independent comics could be hugely successful. Those two titles are still going strong today, and I thoroughly recommend both. Spawn is now ably written by David Hine, (who always produces good work), and the Dragon is still in the capable hands of its creator Eric Larsen, having written and drawn over 130 issues now.
Image also have a lot of other titles under their banner, including Elephantmen. I'll declare my vested interest in this title as my Brickman Returns strip appears as a back up in there every month. More on that later.
The title strip concerns the "elephantmen", - a slang term for the animal/human hybrids genetically created by the sinister Mappo corporation. Bred to be suprahuman weapons of mass destruction but now liberated to live amongst us, the series deals with the prejudice and ethics of their situation.
The concept began as the Unnatural Selection and Hip Flask comics from Active Images, written by Richard Starkings and stunningly illustrated by Ladronn. Elephantmen continues to be written by Starkings, and Ladronn provides the covers, whilst the interior strips are drawn by Moritat and various guest artists (such as Henry Flint and Tom Scioli). There are also variant covers or flip covers to every issue by the likes of Brian Bolland and Chris Weston.
In addition to all that, the comics also contain back up features and interviews. An excellent feature Richard (who also edits) has instigated is a monthly spotlight on old British comics artists. So far Frank Bellamy and Don Lawrence have been covered, with Mike Noble coming up in issue 6.
And then there's Brickman Returns, rounding off the issue with a humourous counterbalance to the heavy stuff in the lead strip.
Richard Starkings had been my editor at Marvel UK back in the 1980's. When he offered me the chance to revive my old fanzine/ stripzine character Brickman for a book collection (Brickman Begins!) in 2005 I was overjoyed, but it's even more of a privilege to create brand new full colour Brickman strips for Elephantmen every month, given what a fantastic package the rest of the comic is.
Issue 6 of Elephantmen (Image Comics, $2.99) is out next Wednesday (Jan 31st) in US comic book stores, and hits the UK comic shops the day after on February 1st. The flip covers and a panel from the Brickman strip can be seen at the top of this posting, but click here for more details on the issue and visit my official Brickman website here for more info on the character.