Posted by: Graeme McMillan on April 3, 2007
In a stunning return of a Savage Critic theme, I’m sick today. This isn’t the usual kind of sickness that one or all three of us tends to befall, though; it’s just food poisoning or something, although Kate keeps pointing out that she isn’t sick, and she ate the same things as me yesterday. That said, she doesn’t write for this blog, so perhaps her immune system is just inherently stronger than mine, who knows? And just as I’m about to post this, I see that Lester’s said more or less the same things as me below. Dammit.
GUY RITCHIE’S GAMEKEEPER #1: Which, for those with long enough memories to remember Tekno Comics, is roughly equivalent to “Isaac Asimov’s I-Bots,” which is to say, Guy Ritchie was probably being harrassed continually by Richard Branson to come up with some kind of idea for a comic that would bear his name and came up with something that’s less a plot or character concept as much as it is a rushed one-liner created out of desperation and the desire to be left alone.
(There’s an interview with Ritchie at the back of the book that shows how little he gives a shit about the project in his use of exceptionally generic responses to each question – “By my creative nature, I am interested in the extreme, animated world… By its design, [comic storytelling is] animated, which to me implies that you can cut to the meat and potatoes and skip the first course.” What does that even mean? And why does he keep calling comics animated? Does he even know that a comic isn’t a cartoon? The answer to how he got involved with Virgin Comics is hilarious for all the wrong reasons: “Errhh, can’t really remember… I think Gotham [Chopra, Virgin’s CCO] gave us a call… I am drawn to the arena where film meets highly animated concepts. The call came at the right time.”)
The problem with this kind of approach is that it leaves the book with nothing worth reading at its center – There’s nothing here that hasn’t been done before, and although Andy Diggle does the best he can with such a cliched set-up – The gameskeeper on a Scottish estate is an honorable ex-soldier who has done terrible things! Because war is terrible! But now war has followed him to his new life! And now he has to get his hands dirty again! With lessons learned in war! Which is terrible! – it’s nowhere near enough to keep your interest, except perhaps for trying to guess the next line of tough guy narration (“Only a fool would set up camp here. A fool… or a fugitive.”). What’s maybe more interesting is that everything that happens in this first issue would play much better as a movie, where the action sequences would have more noise and movement to excite, and the dialogue could be saved by performance, but more importantly, you’d get more than just the set-up for whatever comes next (I’m guessing violence and murky morality plays, but I may be wrong) in one sitting; if this issue wasn’t a 32-page, $2.99 experience in and of itself but the opening twenty minutes of the next James Bond film or whatever, then I’d probably not have half the problems with it that I did.
It also wouldn’t have Mukesh Singh’s artwork, which is nice enough but completely wrong for the story; his colors in particular are waaay too bright for what’s happening, even factoring in arty noir lighting and everything else – There is no reason for outside scenes to be bright blue when juxtaposed by internal scenes where everything is bright read; it overpowers the flow of the narrative, and just emphasizes how false the whole thing comes over as. The grass is bright green, the sky, bright blue, and it pulls you out of the story enough so that you see it as art that is accompanied by dialogue balloons, as opposed to a complete comic experience.* Overall, then, most definitely not the sum of its parts – Diggle has done better, Guy Ritchie used to be a semi-decent filmmaker once, and Singh would be better used elsewhere. Pretty much Eh, at best.
(* – Yes, I did have to stop myself from spelling comic “comix” just for the pun. Thank you for noticing.)
Tomorrow: A book I really liked, for once.