Paul Pope Trade Post: Battling Boy & The Rise Aurora West

battling boy Battling Boy (First Second)
Written & drawn by Paul Pope

I’m not nearly as familiar with Paul Pope’s work as I’d like to be. I know I read either 100% or Heavy Liquid while at Wizard, but can’t remember exactly which one. I do know that he blew me away with Batman: Year 100 and loved staring at his Adam Strange installments in Wednesday Comics. So, when I heard that he had a superhero-esque graphic novel coming out and that our library had it in the system, I was very excited to finally give the results a read.

Battling Boy is set in a world where extra-dimensional beings head to other planes of existence to prove themselves when they reach a certain age. The title character is one such kid whose Thor-like dad drops him off in a monster-ridden world with a series of power-infused T-shirts and a cape. It’s good timing because the place’s science hero Haggard West has just been dispatched leaving his daughter Aurora to pick up the slack. I don’t want to get into too many details because that’s all part of the fun, but our hero, while super powerful, does deal with a lot of more common questions like “Should I just have my dad take care of things?” and “Should I tell these people I have no idea what I’m doing?”

This first volume sets up a really interesting world that I’m psyched to return to, especially because Pope’s artwork is just so…Popian? Papal? This guy’s style is so much his and a part of him that I’m down for reading anything he puts out.

Battling Boy Rise of Aurora WestThe Rise of Aurora West (First Second)
Written by Paul Pope & JT Petty, drawn by David Rubin

When I first got The Rise Of The Aurora West from the library, I was surprised for a few reasons. First, I didn’t realize that this wasn’t a pure Pope effort and second, I was unaware it’s a black and white manga-esque offering. After just a few pages, though, I didn’t mind either perceived problem. Rubin’s art is very much in line with Pope’s, so it feels like it’s all part of the same thing even sans color.

This story actually takes place before the events of Battling Boy, chronicling the adventures of Aurora and her attempts to figure out what happened to her deceased mother and what it may or may not have to do with her imaginary friend.

In a lot of ways, this book actually felt a little more focused and on-point than the previous book which had a kind of fever dream quality to it not uncommon in Pope’s work. Part of that might be that I’m just used to what this world is about and part is because this book focuses solely on Earth and not the extra-reality zones Battling Boy is from. I also appreciated that, after being introduced to these characters and this place in the first volume, I got to learn even more about what happened to this world. There are still plenty of more mysteries to be had, which is why I’m excited to keep reading whatever else comes out in this series.

A MoCCA Report

As I mentioned the other day, the missus and I went to our very first MoCCA (that’s the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art’s annual comic book show which is generally filled with indie comics, writers and artists) on Saturday. It was an interesting experience. I’m not super into the indi comics scene, so a lot of stuff was over my head and off my radar, but it was a fun experience overall, mostly because I got to see a lot of my buddies who were all way more educated about this stuff than I was. I did get a few things and got to meet a few of my contacts from my old Wizard days which was very cool.

  • Ganges #1 and 3 (Fantagraphics) Written and drawn by Kevin Huizenga – I haven’t read these yet because I want to enjoy them like a new record: without any distractions. I got the second issue about year back when I was still at Wizard and really dug it. As I don’t go to the comic shop much anymore, I took the opportunity to pick up these two issues. I’ll do a post after I read them along with re-reading #2.
  • Murder (Partyak) by Sean T. Collins, drawn by Matt Wiegle, Matt Rota and Josiah Leighton – Sean’s my buddy and he was working the Partyak booth which gave me the perfect opportunity to finally pick up Murder, an anthology of his stuff, and the next entry. Murder’s a mix of Destructor strips (which I loved drawing here and here) along with the account of some really creepy folks.
  • The Side Effects Of The Cocaine: David Bowie April 1975-February 1976 (Partyak) by Sean T. Collins, drawn by Isaac Moylan – Another book by Sean that was really great. I don’t know anything about David Bowie, but this book is still a fun, sick ride (dudes loved coke and Nazis). This was the one book I stopped reading on the train for fear of strange looks or my fellow riders thinking I was some kind of new-Nazi. The spread in the middle of the book is gorgeous. You can read the whole thing here.
  • Wiegle For Tarzan & Head To Head (Partyak) both by Matt Wiegle – While at the Partyak booth I figured I’d check out a few of Matt Wiegle’s mini comics for a buck. Both were a great deal. In Tarzan, Wiegle lobbies to become NYC’s current Tarzan and take it away from the current one who’s not doing a very good job. Head is a series of one page gags with two characters. Both had me giggling on the train and most likely getting funny looks from my fellow travelers.
  • How To Survive Working In Retail #1 and 2 (3 Guys Making Comics) Written by Ronnie Gorham and drawn by Lisandro Di Pasquale – I’ve got to give it to the HTSWIR guys for being hustlers. I was standing talking to a buddy and these guys came up and offered us their two $2 comic books for $2. I hasn’t bought much and figured I had a couple extra bucks, so whatever? The book follows five friends who all work crappy retail jobs. The first issue didn’t knock it out of the park, partly because it didn’t separate itself from Kevin Smith’s work enough (they used the number 37). The second issue is better as it gets into more relationship type stuff. The main reason I bought this book is because the second issue has a girl with a guitar. Overall, the $2 purchase was worth it, but these guys need to step up their production game a little more. The first issue wasn’t copied correctly so word balloons and panel lines get cut off, plus they don’t seem to have any kind of web presence. I will say that I dug Pasquale’s art and would love to work with him on something.

We also got this rad puzzle created by artist Chris Yates. The missus, being a scientist, already took it to work where it sits prominently on her desk. I think it’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen and would love to add more of his awesome Baffler!s.

I also wanted to pick up the above Jack Kirby post cards from the Jack Kirby Museum, but didn’t. Luckily, Rickey was still there and he was able to pick them up after I texted him. Thanks Rickey!

All in all it was an interesting and fun experience, though we probably should have gone a little later so we didn’t run out of things so quickly. Hopefully over the next year I’ll become more familiar with the indie comic scene and grow some cajones and actually go talk to more artists to get some sketches in my Green Lantern sketchbook, like my buddy Matt who got his cartoon-themed sketchbook packed with mostly free sketches, hopefully he’ll start adding them to his Saturday Morning’s Awesome blog. My laziness combined with my crippling shyness around strangers with any kind of success have resulted in only one sketch in that book thanks to Koi Pham. It’s a pretty good one, but I need to get more, otherwise it’s just a sketch being held in by 100 pages and a hardcover, which seems a bit ridiculous. Oh, also this Paul Pope after party poster featuring Orion of the New Gods is super sweet.