Tag Archives: marvel

Comic Book Wednesdays: Spotlight on Emma Rios

Welcome back, gals and pals, to another Comic Book Wednesday! Last time I did a spotlight piece it was on a fairly well known and popular artist. I wish that all talented female creators could be as famous as Amanda Conner or Gail Simone, but that’s simply not the case right now. I’d like to see more creators gain that recognition though, and the only way to make someone well known is by talking about them and supporting their work.

So, without further ado, I’d like to shine the spotlight on one of the most talented artists in the industry: the incredible Emma Ríos!

 

What has she done? 

Emma Ríos is a Spanish artist who originated in the European comics scene and has crossed over to the American one. Early on, when she still had a day job as an architect, Ríos was working with the Galician comic collective Polaqia (their Spanish language website can be viewed here). She has done a lot of work with them, and still has a strong connection to the group. Her major works with Polaqia are contributions to the magazine Barsowia, which includes both cover art and interior work, and a very well-recieved sci-fi miniseries called A Prueba de Balas [Bulletproof].

Ríos began her career as a full-time comics artist when she landed a job with BOOM! Studios, illustrating the miniseries Hexed in 2008. The series was co-created with author Michael Alan Nelson, who continues to do work for BOOM!. The series was only four issues, but it was given good reviews, with no small thanks to the fantastic art by Emma Ríos. Her art had a fresh, unique feel to it, and it radically differed from the typical ‘house-style’ of American comics. Just the cover alone serves as an excellent hook for both the art and story inside. While the book reached a fairly small audience, it was enough for Ríos to get her foot in the door and begin her rise to the top of American comics.

After working with BOOM!, Ríos began working primarily for Marvel Comics. She has done lots of work for them over the past few years. Her artist credits include the Doctor Strange miniseries Strange, written by Mark Waid; the Spider-Island tie-in miniseries Cloak and Dagger, written by Nick Spencer; and the miniseries Osborn: Evil Incarcerated, written by Kelly Sue Deconnick.

She has also done numerous one-shots and guest artist appearances for Marvel Comics, including work on Captain Marvel, RunawaysAmazing Spider-Man, Elektra, Firestar, Heralds, and Girl Comics.

Her biggest project for Marvel has been the OGN (original graphic novel) Doctor Strange: Season One, written by Greg Pak. The Season One line is a series of graphic novels that are meant to retell and modernize the origin stories of popular Marvel characters. For the most part, I’ve found them to be pretty mediocre. However, Doctor Strange was a beautifully drawn and written diamond in the rough, and was one of the most well reviewed Season One books. And while it is a good story, the book would not be nearly half as good without Ríos’ art.

Ríos also has a new book coming out this fall, called Pretty Deadly, which I am extremely excited for.

So, let’s take a closer look at her art:

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Why Should I Love Her?

There are many reasons to love Emma Ríos. A major one is her style. Ríos manages to mix chaos and precision in each page she draws. Her pencils are angular and detailed but her pages, as whole pieces, are full of busy activity and kinetic motion. Yet, despite all the activity, Ríos always knows how to draw your eye to exactly where it needs to focus. She takes your hand and guides you through the delightful and frightening insanity of her world, and with each step you are able to enjoy every last, meticulously thought out detail. 

Ríos has worked with some really fantastic writers, but I’d argue that Ríos is able to tell a story all on her own without any help from a writer. She is amazing at conveying emotion, tone, and character just with a few strokes from her pencil. Let’s take a look at this page:

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I love this page (from her Cloak and Dagger miniseries). What words are needed here? Just by looking at the page you can tell who these characters are, what they’ve been through, how it has impacted who they are now, and how connected they are. There’s a real sense of loneliness here, but the kind of loneliness that drives you to seek out another person who has been through the same thing. With her intricate details and complex compositions, Ríos manages to convey a story in a way that many of us would never have dreamed up.

One of the other really amazing things about Ríos’ art is her incredible mastery of motion. Motion and creating the illusion of movement is essential to a good comic. How else can you convey the wonder of flying, the power of a punch, or the excitement of a chase? A good comic creates a kind of mental animation, so that you forget that you’re looking at a series of still images. A good comic will take your brain from panel to panel and from page to page without you ever even realizing it. Not every artist has the talent to do this, no matter how beautiful their art is (sorry, Alex Ross). Emma Ríos, however, is a master.

I don’t know if it’s a combination of the delicate pencils and super bold inks or if it’s the super attention to how motion affects everything, but Ríos’ art has some of the best kinetic motion I’ve ever seen in a comic. Maybe it’s the architect in her, but every last little detail that conveys motion is present in her work (how hair and clothing is affected, how the environment id affected. For example, in these Captain Marvel panels you can almost see the motorcycle barreling down the road or feel the tension as Carol leaps over the banister. It’s really difficult to pull of these poses with such fluidity, but Ríos does it.

I am thrilled that Emma Ríos has entered the American comics scene. I think she has the capacity to be a total superstar artist in time, along with other foreign artists like Oliver Copiel (French), Francis Lenil Yu (Filipino), Gabriel Bá (Brazilian), and Fabio Moon (Brazilian). I’d argue that we need more and more creators from different backgrounds in comics, that’s the only way that comics will evolve and change as an art form.

So, f you’re interested in Emma Ríos I recommend starting with her Doctor Strange work (both Strange and Doctor Strange: Season One) as well as her work on Cloak and Dagger, which can be found in the Spider-Island Companion book. I also recommend putting a reminder on your calendar that Pretty Deadly will be making its way to your local comic shop on October 23rd. Trust me, you want to be on the ground floor for this book. I’ve got a really good feeling that this book is going to be huge.

For more Emma Ríos art, you can check out her personal blog here. There was also a great interview she did with Multiversity Comics yesterday, which you can read here. Also, if any of you have cash to burn, you can buy (or at least browse) Ríos’ original art at Cadence Comic Art.

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I had a lot of fun writing this spotlight. Emma Ríos is one of my favorite artists, and I love seeing her get more and more attention each year. I’m curious how many people knew about her before this article. Also, who are some of your favorite artists (male or female)? Who would you like to read a spotlight on?

See you next Wednesday!

I would also like to give a shout-out to the colorist that Emma Ríos often works with, the fantastically talented Jordie Bellaire. Bellaire will also be working on Pretty Deadly!

Also, a big thank you from Mr. Fishnets for reading his article last week. You guys are the best!

This piece originally appeared on GroupThink under my username fightinginfishnets.

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5 Comics You Should Read (But Most Likely Haven’t Heard Of)

Note: This article originally appeared on GroupThink under my kinja username “fightinginfishnets”. GroupThink is part of the Gawker Media Group.  

So, gals and pals, a lot of you read comics, and some very good comics I might add. In fact, many of the comics I see people discussing are some of my favorite comics ever. So, what happens when you’ve read all the comics that you want to read/heard of/Amazon has recommend? Does that mean that you are out of comics to read? That there are no more comics EVER?!

Hell no.

Some you may know that one of my two jobs is at a comic shop. This is a job I’ve been doing since I was 17 (I’m going to be 23 in a couple of months), and there’s one game I’m really good at– the recommendation game. Usually, it’s easy, usually I’ve got one of my go-to books “Fables, Invincible, Runaways, Gotham Central” etc. But then are the days where I get someone who’s response to every one of them is “read it”, but does Fishnets give up on a challenge? No, she does not. Goddammit, I will find you something you haven’t read and you will enjoy it or I will eat my hat.

I actually love those moments, because that’s when I’m able to give that person who thinks they’ve seen it all something special. And, since you of GT are folks of discerning taste, I’d like to share some of those recommendations with you.

Before we begin, I’d like to make a request. If any of these books interest you, please go to your Local Comic Shop and see if you can find it there before ordering it online. LCS’s are the heart of the comic book community and it is the sales from those independently owned stores that keep great books like these from being cancelled. And your support is what keeps the doors of LCS’s open. Yes, it is often cheaper to buy it on Amazon, but take the time to help out a local business. It’s worth paying the full retail price.

So, in no particular order, here are 5 great comics you should totally read.

1. The Books of Magic (written by Neil Gaiman. Art by John Bolton, Scott Hampton, Charles Vess, and Paul Johnson)

“But Clare,” you say, “we know Neil Gaiman. Even if we haven’t read it, we’ve at least heard of Sandman!”

Well, yes, but have you heard of The Books of Magic? The answer is most likely no, and there’s a reason for this. The Books of Magic was out of print for a very long time. I knew about it, and it still took several years for me to get my hands on a copy (mine has a 2001 print date, the book originally came out in ’90). But now, Vertigo has put out a shiny new printing that is not only a HC, but is oversized to make the pretty art even prettier.

So, what is Books of Magic? Well, there’s this black haired, glasses wearing British kid named Timothy Hunter, who seems to be a whole lot of nothing special (again this came out in 1990 for those calling HP ripoff). But he’s being followed by four very interesting people, some of the most important members of the magical community in DC Comics– The Phantom Stranger, John Constantine, Dr. Occult, and Mister E. Apparently, Timothy has the potential to become the most power adept of magic ever, but he must decide to choose magic. And so he can make this informed choice, they are going to show him the past, present, future of magic in the mortal realm as well as magic in Faerie.

Books of Magic is amazing for a couple of reasons, the first being that it’s a wonderful romp through magic and the role of magic in the DC Universe. Long time comic readers will take pleasure in seeing characters like Zatanna and Doctor Fate, and new readers will take pleasure in meeting them for the first time, the same way Timothy is. The second is the art, each chapter is done by a different artist, which really helps illustrate the concept that Timothy is seeing all different facets of magic. The third is that there’s an owl named Yo-Yo, thus named because he was at first a yo-yo.

2. Nextwave (written by Warren Ellis, art by Stuart Immonen)

If you’d like to go in the completely opposite direction, then I’d recommend NextWave. 

NextWave is quite possibly one of the most ridiculous things I have ever read. Seriously, I don’t want to give too much away, but in one scene the villain of the piece screams “HOMICIDE CRABS!” which are pretty much exactly what you think they are.

NextWave was thought up by the brilliant and bizarre Warren Ellis. In a world where superhero  comics focus on large, insane story arcs, Mr. Ellis wanted to see what would happen if there was a book where the story arcs never really exceeded two issues. Also, what would happen if the premise for the comic was off-the-wall-batshit-insane? The result is this book. The premise is that a group of D-List Marvel characters (Photon, Elsa Bloodstone, The Captain, Machine Man,  and Boom Boom) start working for this agency H.A.T.E. (Highest Anti-Terrorist Effort) only to discover it’s secretly funded by a bunch of terrorists! Oh the cruel irony! They then set off to fight this terrorist organization and hilarity ensues.

As Mr. Ellis said in an interview: “It’s an absolute distillation of the superhero genre. No plot lines, characters, emotions, nothing whatsoever. It’s people posing in the street for no good reason. It is people getting kicked, and then exploding. It is a pure comic book, and I will fight anyone who says otherwise. And afterwards, they will explode.” Plus, the Stuart Immonen art is gorgeous, and the first baddie they fight is the dragon Fing Fang Foom wearing a diaper. ‘Nuff said.

3. Love and Capes (art and words by Thom Zahler)

Ah, what can I say about Love and Capes? Do you like super heroes? Do you like lovingly crafted satire? Do you like situation comedies? Do you like brilliant sit-coms like Parks and Rec?

Well, I’ve got the book for you. Simply put, this is the best Superman/Lois Lane story that’s not actually about those characters you’ll ever read (now say that three times fast). The story begins when Abby (bookshop owner by day, kickass lady by always) finds out that the sweet, mild-mannered accountant Mark she’s been dating is The Crusader, the most powerful hero in a world full of powerful heroes. While the world is full of capes and flying and heroics, Love and Capes is at its heart a story about relationships, about learning how to be comfortable with each other, about dealing with exes, about meeting each other’s families.

Mr. Zahler is also blessed with the gift of perfect comedic timing. He brilliantly breaks down all his pages into eight panels, all with the same rhythm- beat, beat, beat, punchline, beat, beat, beat, punchline. It’s like watching a well-crafted sitcom, yes you are aware that there is a formula, but at the same time you could really care less because it is so well done that the formula only serves to enhance the story, rather than detract from it. And like any well-crafted sitcom, he knows when to break away from the formula.

The eight panel breakdown also serves another purpose! Mr. Zahler makes all of his material available free online (although, the online content is staggered, so the print copies always have newer material. For example, the current stuff he’s posting is from the third collection, while four exist). So, please, take the time to check it out. I can’t explain just how dear this book is to me, just read it and see for yourself. Then buy it. Buy all of it.

4. Friends With Boys (art and words by Faith Erin Hicks)


Friends with Boys was one of those books that came completely out of left field for me. I didn’t know much about First Second, the publisher, but this book was given to me during an informational interview with them. I read it, went to work, and immediately sold out every copy we had in the store.

The story is about a girl named Maggie, who after being home-schooled her whole life, is starting at the local high school. All her older brothers did the same thing (home-school and then public high school), and they’re all really excited to see their baby sister grow up. All of them were also taught by their mom, who has just recently walked out on the family. So, with all of this family drama going on Maggie has to go to a new school where there are friends to be made, bullies to be avoided, and boys who make her feel all funny inside. Oh, and did I mention that she’s haunted by a ghost?

As far as hauntings go, the ghost, a nineteenth century widow, is pretty tame. She mostly just shows up, hangs out around Maggie, and looks kinda sad. Maggie’s been seeing her since she was seven (where she has the most adorable reaction ever: “I gots a Mars Bar.”) But still, there’s the question, why is she bothering Maggie? Ms. Hicks’ art, all black and white ink work, is super expressive and sets the perfect tone. This book is charming beyond words, and should be mandatory reading for any pre-teen/teenager.  It’s also mandatory reading for you. Go buy a copy.

and last, but not least….

5. Beasts of Burden (written by Evan Dorkin, art by Jill Thompson)


Before we begin, I’d like to make a note. Yes, this is a book about animals solving paranormal mysteries. No, this is not a children’s book. Please, please, please, do not give this to anyone under the age of 14. It is not for them. The first few stories seem pretty simple and cute, but then it gets legitimately scary. The last page of the last one-shot that came out is one of the freakiest things I’ve ever seen in a comic. I still get shivers when I think about it. If anyone would like me to recommend some spooky, age appropriate things, I would be happy too.

Anyway, moving on. Beasts of Burden is incredible. It centers around a group of dogs (and one wonderful cat named Orphan) who live in the neighborhood of Burden Hill, and circumstances bring them together to investigate and solve paranormal mysteries. For some reason, Burden Hill seems to be a hotspot of paranormal activity and the pets always have plenty of work to do. From demons to ghost sheep, they face it all, with the help of the older “Wise Dogs” of the neighborhood of course. Yes, this is indeed Buffy With Animals.

Evan Dorkin finds the perfect character voice for each pet, but the real star of this book is the breathtaking watercolors by Jill Thompson. Those of you who have read Sandman may recognize her from the story arc “Brief Lives” which is great, but I really do think that this is the best work of Jill’s career. When things are cute, they’re squee worthy; when things are funny, they’re hilarious; and when things are scary, your stomach turns and you want to pee your pants.

Beasts of Burden is more of an episodic comic, due to the fact that there has never been a fairly regular series, but is instead often featured in anthology books like Dark Horse Presents. However, the majority of the stories are collected in the Animal Rites hardcover featured above. If your Local Comic Shop has a good back issues section, they also may be able to help you find the recent one-shot “Neighborhood Watch.”

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Well, that’s all folks. I hope you enjoyed my list, and learned about some books you may not have heard of before. If anyone is interested/liked this, I’ll happily do more. If not, well, I suppose I’ll just hide under my bed and cry.

Happy reading, everyone! And remember to shop at your Local Comic Shop! Don’t know where that is? Thankfully the handy-dandy comic shop locater does!

Also, the article image is from the hilarious webcomic Our Valued Customers by Mr. Tim.

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