Other Nexus Graphica Columns
For more information, you can try the following:
Shade, the Changing Man
Neil Gaiman's Sandman
Grant Morrison's Animal Man
Shade, the Changing Man Vol. 1: The American Scream
Shade, the Changing Man Vol. 2: Edge of Vision
Gahan Wilson: 50 Years of Playboy Cartoons
Star Trek: A Comics History
The Chronicles of Solomon Kane
Chew Volume One: Taster's Choice
Recent Books of Interest
Gahan Wilson: 50 Years of Playboy Cartoons (Fantagraphics)
This incredible boxed set of three gorgeous hardcovers celebrates one of art's funniest
and most disturbing cartoonists. Printed on archival-quality paper in both color and
black & white, the handsome set includes not only all the legendary artist's cartoons,
prose fiction and text-and-art features from Playboy, but also many of his
strips from The New Yorker, Punch, The National
Lampoon, and many other magazines. Gahan Wilson: 50 Years of Playboy Cartoons
is the most comprehensive and attractive Wilson book ever produced.
Star Trek: A Comics History by Alan J. Porter (Hermes Press)
The lavishly illustrated tome chronicles the extensive history of English-language
Star Trek comic books and strips. Porter, author of James Bond: The History of
the Illustrated 007, smartly divides the entries by publisher, and includes insightful annotations
and accounts of the publisher's interactions with the Trek universe. He summarizes each illustrated
adventure along with the stardate, publication date, and a list of the
creators. Star Trek: A Comics History culminates in a fascinating interview with several
writers who worked on various incarnations of this storied franchise.
The Chronicles of Solomon Kane written by Roy Thomas and Ralph Macchio;
art by Howard Chaykin, Brett Blevins, John Ridgeway, Al Williamson, Sandy Plunkett, Kevin Nowlan,
Jon Bogdanove, and Mike Mignola (Dark Horse)
Several columns back, I lamented the
fact that the excellent 1985 series The Sword of Solomon Kane remained
uncollected. Dark Horse remedies my complaint in The Chronicles of Solomon Kane, which
contains all six issues of the series plus the Solomon Kane stories from Marvel
Premiere. Produced by an impressive array of talent, The Chronicles of Solomon
Kane reprints the extant of the Marvel's superior full color renditions of
Robert E. Howard's dour Puritan hero.
Chew Volume One: Taster's Choice by John Layman (script) and Rob Guillory (art) (Image)
Layman and Guillory create an alternate present where, due to avian flu fears, the American
government has criminalized the possession, sale, and consumption of all poultry! Tony Chu,
investigator for the Special Crimes Division of the powerful FDA, employs his abilities as a
cibopathic -- he gets psychic impressions from whatever he eats -- to solve crimes. Guillory's
over-the-top humorous illustrations and Layman's clever script expertly mix to spawn an enjoyable
concoction of cannibalism, conspiracy, and murder.
The American Scream
Copyright © 2010 Rick Klaw
By 1990, the Reagan-promised American dream lay in ruins. The U.S. economy teetered on the
verge of a recession. While crime rates eventually dropped dramatically later in the decade,
American crime levels had achieved record highs throughout the 80s. After decades of
neglect, the U.S. education system doomed an entire generation to lives of mediocrity and
poverty. The Iran-Contra controversy combined with other scandals and the ridiculous excesses
of consumption further eroded the weary American psyche. From this malaise, writer Peter
Milligan and artist Chris Bachalo produced Shade, the Changing Man for DC
Comics, an indictment and a chronicle of failed dreams and hopes.
Powered and protected by his "Madness-vest," mind agent Shade journeys to Earth from his
home dimension Meta to research the prophesied "changes," which will threaten the orderly,
tightly-controlled Metan universe. Between Earth and Meta lies the Area of Madness, chaos given
form and fueled by humans' uncontrollable, emotional nature.
At first his visits are brief three hour affairs undertaken in his own Metan body. But as the
Madness threatens his home, Shade must remain on Earth for an extended period of time to confront
the chaos directly. To accomplish this, he occupies the body of convicted serial killer Troy Grenzer
at the moment of his execution by electrocution! Though Shade's persona supersedes Grenzer's
sociopathy, echoes of the murderer remain. Through his vest, Shade can project his dreams and
visions, literally warping the reality around him.
In a bizarre but believable twist, Kathy George, daughter of Grezner's last victims, befriends
Shade. The pair journey across the country confronting and often containing the Madness, now
represented as the American Scream, a physical embodiment of the failed American dreams of the
previous thirty years.
Milligan and Bachalo wisely relied on surreal imagery and non-linear storytelling for this
imaginative, allegorical series. At the time, these methods were unusual, as was the prominent
portrayal of controversial topics such as capital punishment, interracial relationships, and
transgenderism. The series developed a cult following and lasted an amazing 70 issues (through 1996).
The third title to emerge from the first wave of DC's own British Invasion, the previous
being Neil Gaiman's Sandman and Grant Morrison's Animal Man,
Shade, the Changing Man re-envisioned the original concept created by Steve Ditko
in 1978. In the original incarnation, which ran for eight issues, Metan Rac Shade, using a stolen
vest that enabled him to project a illusion of a large grotesque version of himself, escaped to
Earth after being framed for treason.
Milligan and Bachalo discarded all references to the prior history and most of Ditko's
concepts, incorporating only the bare bones. Their series existed generally outside the established
DC Comics continuity, though John Constantine from Hellblazer and The Endless
from Sandman made appearances.
Unlike Sandman and the Morrison-written Animal Man, whose entire
runs are available in trade paperback editions, only two Shade, the Changing Man
collections exist: The American Scream (issues 1-6; originally compiled in 2003) and
Edge of Vision (issues 7-13; published for the first time in November, 2009). I hope that
more collections are forthcoming. After nearly a decade of terrorism scares, war, and economic
decline, Americans once again need the unique perspectives of Shade, the Changing Man.
Professional reviewer, geek maven, and optimistic curmudgeon, Rick Klaw has supplied
countless reviews, essays, and fiction for a variety of publications
The Austin Chronicle,
The San Antonio Current,
The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy, Moving Pictures
RevolutionSF, King Kong Is Back!, Conversations
With Texas Writers, Farscape Forever, Electric Velocipede, Cross Plains
Universe, and Steampunk. MonkeyBrain Books published the collection of his essays, reviews,
and other things Klaw, Geek
Confidential: Echoes From the 21st Century.
He can often be found pontificating on Twitter
and over at The Geek Curmudgeon.