Thursday, March 18, 2010

Art Discussion Month 2010: Global Frequency #8 by Chris Sprouse

[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 #8. Written by Warren Ellis. Pencilled by Chris Sprouse. Inked by Karl Story. Coloured by David Baron.

This issue doesn't have a title. I've seen it possibly having a variation on the final numbers on the cover: "00:00:00.001" most often ".001" but I can't say for sure.

The art in this issue is very realistic. Sprouse and Story (the second time we've had someone not inking themselves this month... that seems weird almost) operate in a style that is very straight forward and clean. The world they draw looks real, the people they draw look weird. While the man interrogating the kidnapped Miranda Zero doesn't look like any actor I can think of, he seems like the sort of man you'd see in a movie or TV show where this situation happens.

The plot, by the way, is: Miranda Zero has been kidnapped. She will be killed in one hour unless she tells him all of the information she has on the Global Frequency so he and his organisation can kill every agent and dismantle the GF. Why an hour? That's how long they figure it will take the GF to find her.

So, there are basically two things that Sprouse and Story (though I'm going to just say Sprouse for the rest of this... Story is implied and included in everything I say because I honestly have no idea what Sprouse's art looks like without Story inking him...) draw are: Miranda in the room with man in black; and GF agents trying to find her by examining the place where she was abducted.

Of all of the book's issues, this is the one I can imagine being an episode of a TV show, in a big part because of Sprouse's art. It's so simple and straight forward, capturing the look and feel of real life. It's a little sterile and stiff in places, but that works. There are a lot of jump cuts in this issue, going from one person/place to another. The only time he ever really stays with anything is with Miranda and the man. A tall, lanky, skinny, balding man. The sort of man you think of when you want to picture a cool, professional interrogator/killer. Of course, he isn't a professional, he's just a sad little man, but still. That's an interesting subversion, because, when the issue starts, from the look of the man, you think there's a chance that Miranda will be killed. He looks good enough.

There are a lot of panels showing people from the shoulder's up, often at computers. I'm trying to think through how this is made visually interesting by Sprouse -- because it is. How the fuck did he make people sitting at computers look so good?

Is it the perspective changes? He rarely jumps from person to person and maintains the same perspective in the panel. He'll go from a side view to a back view, from looking down on them to looking up at them slightly. He keeps the camera moving, making sure we don't see the same composition twice. He'll give them little pieces of business, like being handed a mug of coffee or yelling at someone... the people aren't static necessarily. This is a big emergency and even people at computers are a little jumpy. Aleph is the only one that seems able to stay calm and still, but that's because it's her job to run things like this and she has the look of worry on her.

More so than Garry Leach in the first issue, this issue is so clearly told. It's easy to understand visually, but Sprouse still dresses it up a bit with the changing angles in panels. Very good.

David Baron's colours are done in an equally straight forward manner. No overtones or anything, except in Aleph's room, which is lit with green lights. The colours are crisp and fall between the lines extremely well. This issue also takes place during the day, so things are brighter than in other issues. Baron definitely shows the ability to adapt to his artists in this series. I'm slowly picking up on how, but it's there.

Tomorrow: Lee Bermejo draws Global Frequency #9.