My 13 Favorite Things of 2009 (Part 2 of 17)

Echo (Abstract Studio): I’ll start with a confession; I never really read Strangers in Paradise consistently. I was always peripherally aware of SiP being critically praised, and even loved by some of the women I was going twenty toes with, but I never sought it out and bought it regularly. Though every time I’d come across a trade at a discount sale (hello, Lee’s Comics!) or a run of single issues in a quarter or dollar bin, I’d snatch them up and enjoy the execution of Terry Moore’s penciling ability and penchant for strong characterization. But as much as I liked SiP when it sought me out, I never felt that it was truly “for me,” that I was somehow not the core demographic, whatever that means. It really is nonsensical in hindsight, I’ve always believed that anyone can like anything for any reason at any time and trying to explain it was just marketing jargon developed by marketing people to justify their professional marketing existence. It’s like trying to tell someone they are or aren’t in love, you can’t articulate it in logical terms; they either are or are not – simply because they feel a special, sacred thing in their heart. Maybe it was simply that I didn’t catch on from the very first issue and felt that I was perpetually coming late as a stranger to a party of friends already in progress. Not the case with Terry Moore’s Echo. I heard him speak at conventions about “the new book” and it sounded interesting. I waited for the first issue. I bought the first issue and immediately loved it. I was there as an early adopter and felt I immediately got what he was doing. He took the strong characterization and interpersonal dynamics that made SiP such a hit and (after some writing stints for Marvel) laid that over an idea that could have easily come out of the 1960’s House of Ideas. He wasn’t concerned so much with the notion of a pure superhero as he was with the type of science fiction experimentation and atomic paranoia in the zeitgeist that fueled so many of Stan and Jack’s creations back in their era. From a storytelling construction standpoint, he was taking two ideas I loved, well-developed characters and Silver Age sensibility, and melding the two seamlessly. I would have been along for the ride based on that alone. What I got additionally was an example of one of the most professional and consistently executed books in the Modern Age. Terry Moore is a craftsman who provides an aspiring creator tutorial in every damn issue. Flip any one of them open and you undoubtedly find stellar examples of clean penciling, facial expressions full of meaning, effortless panel transitions, truly realistic dialogue without a whisper of exposition, characters who feel real in the small quiet moments where characters can make or break a book, believable reactions to incredulous situations, rousing action sequences, and energetic distinct lettering. If you want to understand how to make effective comic books in every aspect of their production, watch Terry Moore a while, and look no further than Echo.


At 9:04 AM, Blogger Ryan Claytor said...

Well put, Justin!

I've been on board in starts and stops, but I'm finally back to my monthly anticipation of this title. ...which means I can now enjoy your monthly reviews of this title without the worry of spoilers. :)

Lookin' forward to the rest of your 17(!??!) part series! Very ambitious.

Ryan Claytor
Elephant Eater Comics

At 9:07 AM, Blogger Justin said...

Thanks, Ryan... I know there are at least TWO people out there reading Echo!

Yup, I've got my Favorite 13 lined up, as well as some honorable mentions, a "special prize" for a certain book, as well as some disappointments for the year.

Stay tuned!

At 9:41 AM, Blogger Ryan Claytor said...

You are a tab in my browser. You can bet I'll be tuned. :) Keep up the consistently stellar work.

Ryan Claytor
Elephant Eater Comics

At 12:22 PM, Blogger Justin said...



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