12.20.2010

The 12 Days of Comics: 2010 - Day 8


"The Lone Ranger" by Brett Matthews, Sergio Cariello, and John Cassaday (Dynamite Entertainment)
Demographic: Sergio Leone or Period Drama Film Fans
Selected by: Justin Giampaoli
Subsequent Interview by: Ryan Claytor

Justin: My next selection is Dynamite Entertainment’s "The Lone Ranger." Dynamite has turned the re-imaging of classic and pulp properties into a real cottage industry, with titles such as “Dracula,” “Dan Dare,” “The Complete Alice in Wonderland,” “The Green Hornet,” “Buck Rogers,” and “Zorro.” By far, the best of the line is this title, which is written by Brett Matthews, penciled by Sergio Cariello, with art direction and covers by John Cassaday. It strikes that delicate and effective balance that re-imaging projects should aspire to. It combines the strengths of the story's pulp roots, but tempers it with the voracious pop culture expectations of a modern audience. It retains the basic essence of tortured Texas Ranger turned vigilante folk hero John Reid, but infuses the story with contemporary sensibilities regarding romance, action, drama, and psychological intrigue. It’s not brutal Western violence merely for the sake of itself. It doesn't rest easy on stock character archetypes. Instead, it offers thoughtful contemplation about man’s place in a morally complex world. It carefully examines the choices we make, how they affect those around us, and the wisdom that may be gleaned from those experiences.

Cariello’s art lends a clean and austere beauty to the rugged environments. The pencils are framed by Cassaday’s gorgeous covers and (acting as art director) his interior layouts. That combination of Cariello and Cassaday's talents imparts an immersive cinematic quality to the adventure. Every shot feels like a wide expanse where you can imagine the world extending far beyond the panel borders. Brett Matthews' writing experience in the TV and film industry shows; “The Lone Ranger” is one of the best comics I’ve seen at pacing. He uses a style of storytelling that relies on the artistry of visual beats instead of leaning on the crutch of words, really using the power of the medium to its fullest extent.

I think it would obviously appeal to anyone into The Old West era; I know my family has some die hard fans of Sergio Leone’s Spaghetti Westerns. But, it would also work for anyone interested in a great human drama set in an atypical environment, or even entry level creators looking for an example of how to hone their skills. “The Lone Ranger” emphasizes storytelling vs. empty flourish in the art, and restraint vs. expository verbosity in the dialogue. The first 3 trades of the series are available, and as I understand it, the series has just a single issue to go before it wraps. Dynamite will likely be collecting the entire saga into one definitive edition as well.

Ryan: Man, each time you bring up some title I haven't heard of, my inner cynic thinks, "BORING!" and I've got my fingers poised to type "VETO" (I'm really itching to use this thing. Ha-ha!), but by the end of your explanation I'm thinking about BUYING, not vetoing. The emphasis on storytelling, pacing, and environments are all things I touch on in my university comics class and makes me think I should read through this for example pages to show my students. I teach students that are 18 years old and over, so this question isn't so much for me as it might be for parents and teachers of younger folks, but; what would be an appropriate age restriction for this book? I know you mentioned some violence, and I don't know what other mature content is present. Can you narrow the target demographic with a minimum age?

Justin: That's another great question, Ryan. I think the safest answer is that "The Lone Ranger" would get an "R" rating. There's a fair amount of "shoot-out" style violence, and even some isolated instances of brutal pillaging and attempted rape. It's always done extremely tastefully, and I think the darkest elements actually come from the moral choices portrayed. One of the most macro questions the series asks is "when is it ok to kill?" There's a fine line between justice and vengeance. Obviously I think it also depends on the kid, my parents were pretty cavalier about not editing or filtering my pop culture consumables, so for liberal leaning parents of relatively mature kids, "PG-13" might suffice, but for the record I have to go with an "R." Perfect for your college students! I might have a few stray issues around the house, so I'll set them aside for when I see you later this month.

3 Comments:

At 12:21 PM, Blogger Sergio Cariello said...

Justin- Thanks so much for this review!
It has been a fun ride to work in the Ranger!
John Cassaday really packaged it well with his wonderful covers. Brett Matthews scripts are a thrill to draw from.
I feel complimented by your remarks on the layouts and crediting them to my friend and Eisner winner John.
Although his title was art director in the series his main role was to make sure I envisioned what Brett and himself had in mind for launching the series, so they both acted as editors of the Ranger pages. When we all were in tune with the initial characterization of the main players I started laying out the pages based on Brett's scripts and John kept with us in the beginning overseeing everything but pretty much let me do my thing. I was never given any layout from him, only his approval and comments in the initial issues before I inked it. Later just Brett and I were involved in the interiors with John still wrapping it up with his beautiful covers. I'm proud of what we've done and happy for it's success!

 
At 5:09 PM, Blogger Justin said...

Hi Sergio!

Thanks so much for the feedback and behind the scenes information regarding who is responsible for what on the book.

It's a pleasure to read and I'll be sad to see it go from my monthly pull list once it's wrapped, but always appreciative of what you guys accomplished!

Best,

Justin

 
At 9:08 AM, Blogger Ryan Claytor said...

Sergio,

Thanks for taking the time to leave some really insightful feedback. It's comments like these that make these projects so fulfilling. I'm the admitted newcomer to the series, but I look forward to seeing what the Ranger has in store.

Happy Holidays,

Ryan Claytor
Elephant Eater Comics
www.ElephantEater.com

 

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