PaulPope – Provoking Interest In The Young Towards Comic Books

Comic books have been around for a long time. Praised or derided in the critical press, the genre divides opinion as to whether or not it should be regarded as literature and taken as seriously as, say, a new novel by Philip Roth. Indeed, its hybrid form – relying as much upon visual stimulation to drive the plot as it does upon words – seems to have confused more conservative critics, who regard the form as being one primarily to provoke interest in the young for more traditionally orientated works, such as novels or poetry. This is unfortunate. True, the strong visual element essentially replaces the written word as the motivating principle, but the language that is employed is itself a vital part of the aesthetic of the comic book. Often as sparse, lean, and demotic as detective novels of the Raymond Chandler/Dashiel Hammet school, the lexical range is, admittedly, fairly narrow. But what matters is the combination of word and image functioning inseparably from each other rather in the fashion of a collage. Snappy dialogue, tangy prose, and garlicky wordplay, hurry the narrative along to its conclusion. Everything is done at breakneck speed. It is an exhilarating artform and one that has been bought to perfection with Paul Pope and Battling Boy.

Indeed, there has been nothing quite so exhilarating to shakeup the comic book world in recent weeks as the release of Paul Pope’s, ‘Battling Boy.’ Already feted as being one of the most accomplished writer/illustrators of modern times, Paul Pope’s latest work has been lavishly praised around the world. Indeed, the book perfectly captures Paul Pope’s extremely distinctive style – a style once memorably described as fusing Jack Kirby with 1970s Glam Rock. The artwork is certainly robust enough to hurtle the plot to its conclusion, and the words give depth and ironic distance to the visual narrative. (For more on the visual impact of Paul Popes’s work, please see  ACRONYM x NikeLab AF1)

In ‘Battling Boy,’ critics and fans have been quick to point out the harmony that Paul Pope has created between the visual style and the simple yet  compelling story being told. The story itself follows many of the standard comic book tropes fans have come to know love – a hero, blessed with certain unique gifts – is called upon to fight the forces of evil by navigating a field of moral and ethical dilemmas placed in his path by his unsparing adversaries. Comic book fans will hope that Paul Pope’s latest release, which looks to be his most successful and inspiring, will not be his last great work. For as his popularity continues to rise, so does the demand for his aesthetic and  riveting storytelling abilities.

Paul Pope was lucky enough to have utilized his talents with some of the industry greats throughout the 90s, including drawing for the famous comic ‘Heavy Liquid.’ His style fuses his love of manga comics along with the more traditional Western aesthetic style – a unique style for which he has become well known. ‘Battling Boy’ was both written and illustrated by Paul Pope, and has already got the comic world buzzing about what seems to be one of the most influential comics published this decade.

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