A Public Service Announcement! ;)

A Public Service Announcement! ;)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Reflections on Kazu Kibuishi's _Copper_: "I Treat the Letters Like Images"

Copper represents my first serious, sit-down experience with the work of talented Kazu Kibuishi. I've thumbed through his Flight volumes enough to put them on my wish lists, but I've not yet devoured them as is my hope for future days.

That said, Copper is a delightful introduction to his talents. The stories, mostly one-pagers with a few recurring vignettes across the collected shorts which were originally published on the web, are reminiscent of Winsor McKay's Little Nemo in Slumberland, as most of them are adventures based in the imaginations of Copper and his dog pal Fred.

The beautiful and flashy page layouts and proclivity for some of the capers to be dreams in disguise also pair the text with McCay's classic. Indeed, if there is one web comic turned collection that I'd love to see reprinted at the gigantic size of some of the Sunday supplements, it'd be Copper.

To understand the two main characters, consider folks from another classic series, Peanuts. Copper, described as curious, and Fred, mentioned as fearful, are really two sides of the same coin, which makes their time together that much more enjoyable for readers as the duo play off of one another with ease. Think about what you'd get if Charlie Brown kept his neuroses but gained Snoopy's activity (agency?) and sense of adventure, while Snoopy added to his own anxieties by taking on some of Chuck's (angst?) from time to time.

A stickler for thoughts about process as well as product, I was thrilled to see Kibuishi share his "making of" process for Copper after the collection ended. Regarding lettering, he said something that I've heard other comics artists say before but that I feel is important to consider:

"I prefer to hand letter my pages because I like to have control over the composition of every image in the drawing stage.....I treat the letters like images." Letters as just other images to be considered in the overall composition. Yes, yes, yes! Graphein in the 21st century, folks!!

In comics, the difference between the written word and the drawn image, or, shall we say, the written image and the drawn word, can be negligible. And, perhaps that's the best way to see them at all times.

Imagetext is in the text is the image is the text is the textual, afterall!
I've got a revew copy of Kibuishi's Amulet in my office. After having so much fun with Copper, I may have to move it to the top of my pile.


Ben Villarreal said...

I actually just picked this up today. I had seen it before and recognized Kazu Kibuishi from Amulet. It looks great!

Ben Villarreal said...

And of course, as we're having a nice little discussion about Kibuishi, Scott McCloud's posting pictures about meeting his child. Jerk ;-)


Bucky C. said...

Gotta take what we can get, I guess. :)