Friday, March 19, 2010

Art Discussion Month 2010: Global Frequency #9 by Lee Bermejo

[Continuing Art Discussion Month 2010. 31 days, 31 artists, a whole lot of discussion. The explanation behind my choice of comics and the archive can be found here.]

Global Frequency #9. Written by Warren Ellis. Drawn by Lee Bermejo. Coloured by David Baron.

Another untitled issue. It begins with a wonderful page. Four panels. One large one where a man sits up on a bed while stretched out. It looks like a shitty bed since it has no sheets or blankets. He has pants and a shirt on. On the bed next to him is a Global Frequency phone. A fan is in the foreground, so we can assume it's hot. The lighting is a sickly orange colour. On the upper right part of his chest is a Global Frequency symbol tattoo that's been crossed out. The second page is a long, thin panel where the phone goes off. The symbol on it lights up with the same orange. The background of that panel is entirely white. In the third panel, he answers the phone, the focus on his chest so we get another shot of the crossed out tatto. He's told he's on the Global Frequency. In the final panel, we move in closer and up to his face and he tells Aleph that, no, he's not.

This issue is a mood piece, a horror comic, where Lee Bermejo works in extreme lights and darks, lots of shadows, etc. and David Baron works in extreme colours. Scenes and locations are coloured with a single colour. It produces an interesting effect, particularly the contrast between Aleph and Takashi's locations. Aleph is always shown with two colours: she's bathed in a neon green light, while the room and monitors around her are purple. Those two colours are often paired together, existing on either side of blue, and complement each other well.

Takashi is sent to a hospital where something has gone wrong. Cops sent in go crazy. Turns out experiments have been done, a biohazard released, it drives people crazy, including the doctors who have experimented on the patients and began worshipping some. Takashi progressively ingests more of the toxin and becomes crazier... he never fully loses it or anything, but, by the end, he's still aware enough to know that he can't rejoin the world (or, maybe, he doesn't want to).

It's a horror story, basically. Hence the mood lighting. He's going into a haunted house. It's not that different a story from "Locked" except Takashi never comes out since the building is bombed. Same general idea.

Here's a progression of colours:

In his room: orange
Outside: dark blue
Just inside the hospital: reddish orange
Further in: light blue
Through a set of doors: pale green
Through another set of doors: pale, sickly yellow

The transition from the orange of his own private torture to the outside dark blue is jarring. Blue is normal, while orange and red are violent. In his room, he sits and stews over his anger at Miranda Zero and the Global Frequency for the things that he's seen and done. The intial violence in the hospital is the same, but it's more shocking, hence the brighter red colour. Same idea, just amplified.

The light blue beyond that room is there because it seems like a normal room, but, when it's not, when there's a freakish merged monster of various patients, Takashi responds with violence, which is depicted as bright red. Moving beyond that room, things get worse, get more disturbed, hence the pale green, which transitions into the pale yellow, the colour of sickness... Cues to tell you how you should feel about what's happening.

Bermejo's style is a somewhat photorealist/referenced style, but done with a lot of heavy, angular inks. It's not far off from Tim Bradstreet's work, but there's more distance between it and the real world. It's a lot darker and creepier. It doesn't look right. It kind of looks like how reality should look in a horror flick. The look in Takashi's eyes at the end... he is crazy, he is a monster... with his inner violence and tortured history, he would kill and kill and kill... the ending is about stopping the spread of this, protecting the world from him, and indulging in his desire to kill people. He kills himself with his gun first.

Probably my favourite issue of David Baron's colours since I think they play a larger role here than anywhere else. He does something similar in the next issue, but it's not as effective. But, that's tomorrow with Tomm Coker and Global Frequency #10.