Every week on “Sunday Page” an author has to choose a single page from a comic book. It could be for sentimental reasons o for a particular technical achievement. The conversation could lose itself in the open water of the comic book world but it will always start with the questione: «If you had to choose a page from a comic book you love, what would you choose and why?».
This Sunday I’m out with Jamie Coe, comic book artist and freelance illustrator. Clients he have worked with include The New Yorker, The Independent, BBC Focus, Wired, GQ and Ikea. His debut graphic novel Art Schooled was published by Nobrow Press in 2014.
I love Southern Bastards, Aaron and Latour are absolutely killing it in this series. I’ve picked this page in particular because there’s great use of pace, using a literal chopping back and forth between past and present to intensify the scene.
The first time I read this page (within the larger context of the story) I whizzed through it because each panel feels like a quick cut, but as I got to the end of the issue I couldn’t help but just go back and spend some time poring over them. There’s so much going on in each of the panels, so much juicy information about the characters, their town and its history.
There are two parallel present day scenes (in black and white) and flashbacks of the past (in red). The present day panels follow Earl, who is trying to chop down a tree that grew over his father grave; A metaphor for his inner-conflict about his families past (or at least, I saw it that way). Meanwhile, we also see Dusty, a somewhat sympathetic character, getting beaten up by a gang. The flashbacks are in red, showing us glimpses of an incident involving Earls father who was Sheriff, Earl’s experiences in the Vietnam War and a silent bark from a recurring dog that appears throughout the series (often pooping on roads).
The whole page has the ‘tick-tock’ feeling of a clock or the pounding of a heart beat, quickly escalating to a build up of emotion, action and pace. The page is divided into an even 12-panel grid, which I think helps give the whole page a real sense of rhythm. Even the panels become more close up on certain parts of the image, obscuring any information that they don’t want you to focus on, making you use your imagination to think about whats going on outside of what you can see. All in all this is a fantastic page that both Aaron and Latour have created, and honestly, there are loads and loads more really great pages in this comic that work together to make a fantastic over all narrative that keeps you wanting more.
How did you discovered SB? Are you an avid Image reader?
Yeah, I definitely check out a lot of Image books, they’ve had a crazy amount of great books, particularly in the last 5 years. I think I discovered Southern Bastards through peoples recommendations on podcasts and review sites. At the time, I thought it was quite unusual for Image to publish a series that was fiction, and it’s really nice to see a mainstream merging of both the ‘graphic novel’ type books and the ’superhero/fantasy comic’ type books, because I love both.
Do you feel any difference between Aaron creator-owned works and the comics he did for Marvel, in terms of writing or freedom?
Yeah I think there are differences between all his books and that’s one of the things I like about his writing. I think whether it’s his Marvel work or his Image and Vertigo work, he seems to be versatile in his approach so that he brings out the best possible story for that book. Like SB, Aaron’s Vertigo series Scalped (with artist R.M. Guera) feels gritty and edgy, there’s dark content in there that works beautifully within that series, but then he can also write Wolverine and the X-men which feels more family friendly and fun, and I really enjoy reading both ends of that spectrum.