Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Am I crazy, or do these Radical Comics characters look awfully familiar?

That's the cover of the first issue of Radical Comics' Time Bomb, by Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray and Paul Gulacy. As I mentioned in my review of it, it's about an elite squad of soldiers that ride an experimental time machine powered by an atom bomb back in time to stop an apocalyptic attack, and wind up in the middle of World War II, weighing the time travelers rule about not interfering with the past against whether or not to liberate a concentration camp. And, as I also mentioned, I rather liked it.

Since then, the second issue came out, and I liked that one too.

One thing that I didn't mention yet is this one panel on page 30, featuring one of the four lead characters riding on an airplane. Here's the relevant part of the panel: So that's basically just Brad Pitt, huh? He's even dressed like Brad Pitt's Ocean's character dresses.
After seeing that panel, I noticed all four of the principals all looked a bit like big Hollywood actors...and at least one rapper.

Am I crazy, or did Gulacy actually model his characters after these folks? Or did that one panel on page 30 where the character looked so extremely Brad Pittish make me start actively searching for likenesses where there might not actually be any?

I should note that I'm not really criticizing Gulacy here. The characters all look as much like Paul Gulacy drawings as they do any particular celebrities, and if he did use photoreference for the designs and drawings, he did draw all of the characters...it's not like he used computers to electronically lightbox or trace the first hit he found for "Brad Pitt" on a Google Image search. The artwork is all pretty organic, and not at all Greg Landular. On the other hand, I suppose it was at least a little bit distracting, as I did devote some of my brain for looking for Kanye West-ishness or Lucy Liu-ocity here and there.

If there's a right way and a wrong way to (apparently) use photoreference and celebrity likenesses to create comic book characters, Gulacy seems to be doing it the right way. I can't say the same for Leonardo Manco, the artist working with writer John Heffernan on Radical Comics' Driver For The Dead.
I also previously reviewed the first issue of that series, and also kind of liked it. I'm afraid it took a serious nosedive in quality the second issue though, which was one of those rare comic books that I simply could not force myself to read all the way through.

Part of the problem was the "casting" of folks like Morgan Freeman, who was "playing" the character Moses Freeman in the first issue, and whose body is the maguffin our hero has to transport in this issue. While the art isn't all that great—weak designs, poor acting—I can't put all of the blame on the artist, as there are just some interminable scenes, like a three-page sequence in which two characters talk in the front seat of a car, speaking hundreds of words of dialogue in each static, over-stuffed panel (Kind of like Brian Michael Bendis' worst comics-scripting, only without Nick Fury or Maria Hill or whoever).

I managed to slog through those pages, eight through ten, before landing on page 11, wherein we're introduced to a magical fortune teller type lady named Aunt Sadie. A woman who, if I'm not crazy and/or just imagining things, is apparently being played by actress Mo'Nique, whether actress Mo'Nique knows it or not.

Check it out:

And here's a photo of Mo'Nique, if you're unfamiliar with her work (Precious, Domino, Shadowboxer, etc): It's not just me, right?


Diabolu Frank said...

Gulacy has always "cast" his books, going back to Master of Kung Fu. It's usually fine, but some of his Keaton Batman swipes in the '90s were too clearly referenced from heavily circulated promotional stills. I love his work, though.

Randal said...

Six From Sirius is one of the greatest things in the history of ever. That's the first thing that I think of every time I see Gulacy work.

And secondly, as long as it isn't lightboxed porn stars or Eminem, I'm fine with it.

Anthony Strand said...

That top "Mo'Nique" picture was clearly lifted directly from the photo you put at the bottom of the post. So no, it isn't just you.