Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Shark-Man arrives at Image Comics

As a company, Image Comics today have more versatility in their output than they did when they began back in the 1990's. Not that I'm slighting the achievements of the company's founders, as comics such as Erik Larsen's Savage Dragon and Todd McFarlane's Spawn proved that top creators could break away from Marvel and forge their own successful characters.

Even now, Image Comics may not be as esoteric as Fantagraphics Books for example but their line of comics offer some interesting material. Declaring my interest I can't resist plugging Elephantmen of course (not only because
Brickman resides within its pages) but there are also other titles that appeal to the various tastes of comic fans, as Image's official website demonstrates.

One of the new titles from Image that caught my eye recently was Shark-Man No.1. Described as "Created and story by Michael Town, David Elliott and Ronald Shusett" it's character designer, scriptwriter and artist Steve Pugh who shines here the most. I've seen quite a bit of Steve's work over the years, from comics I've bought to originals he's shown in the pub, and from my experience his work on Shark-Man is his best yet.

Shark-Man was originally launched by another publisher, (I think they managed two issues) but for its relaunch (and better distribution hopefully) at Image Comics Steve has redrawn many of the pages, improving on their original design. Now that's dedication!

The original version of issue one can be seen on Steve's website. It's an interesting insight into the artist's progress to compare the online "old" version to the hard copy new edition. (I've posted two pages above for comparison.)

The comic itself is an enjoyable mixture of superheroics and Hookjaw-type horror in an environment influenced by Gerry Anderson and the artwork of TV Century 21, injected with the synergy of Marine Boy meets Diabolik. In lesser hands it could have been a mess. Handled by Steve Pugh, an artist at the top of his game, it's fantastic.

Shark-Man No.1 $3.50 Available from comics speciality stores.

Visit Steve Pugh's official website: http://www.stevepugh.com/

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