Nov 27, 2012

Garrison on "Holy Nib" Pt. 1

My friend Chris Garrison sent me this nice "review"/critique of "Pete Moss" #1 a while back and it just occurred to me to post it here for others to enjoy. You can see pages from the comic here. Also be sure to check out Chris's weekly comic on Sundays at

[...] It was neat that the cover was a real scene from the story, but then when I read that scene, it was kind of weird that there wasn't a big splash panel or something as spectacular as the cover image.

I love all the architectural flourishes throughout, like the things around the balcony on the cover, plants, carpet patterns, etc.  Lovely.  Reminds me of Winsor McKay.

All those panels in the top 2 tiers of page 1 are awesome.  They look so perfect and classic.  Especially the 1st one on the top tier, and the 1st one on the 2nd tier.  And the 1st 2 panels on page 2.  And I love this scritchy little line, that makes it look like a 1923 strip or something.  Like Lyonel Feininger.

I don't mind that there are some thick and thin lines throughout, but to keep that cool look, I'd use the thick more sparingly, and only with purpose.  Like, to put something clearly in the foreground, thicken it, but don't have senseless thick lines, and definitely try to avoid thick lines on something far away,
when there are thin lines on something closer to the camera.  I mean, it's not like you do that a lot or something, it's not totally haphazard, I'm just saying there are places where I think it would be improved if you were more careful about it.

The old-fashioned way Pete talks is great.  Keep that up.  And I like his character.  He seems sweetly naive, but sometimes it comes out that he can be selfish or plotting.  But somehow that feels consistent and believable.  I don't know why.  Good stuff, though.  I like Pete a lot.

Pete is like Tintin, in that he's a child-man, who has travel adventures.

This is a minor thing, but ... I feel like Pete has a nice flat, Feininger-like design ... then a lot of other characters have a rounded, '70's, School House Rock style of design ... then the girls are more like, I don't know, Betty & Veronica style, sort of.  I think those different sensibilities make the comic feel rather mish-moshed.  If all the characters felt more like they were from the same artist, the world would seem more cohesive and real.  Of course, I love the broad variations in proportion and such, from one character to the next.  That's what I strive for myself, a lot of times.  Something I admire in Asterix, for instance.  But there's something about the stylistic nature of the characters which, I think, would probably be better if it were more consistent.

This is supposed to be an "all ages" comic, right?  But I'd argue that El Pulpo inviting the woman up to his room ... then they're up there alone, smooching ... and we don't know if she's his wife, girlfriend, or a groupie he met five minutes previous ... I mean, it's not wildly shocking, but they definitely wouldn't allow that scene in a Donald Duck comic.  Just sayin'.  I think that's the only thing that's not quite "all ages" about it.

I love how Pete keeps popping up to harass El Pulpo, tapping on the glass and everything.  That's hilarious.

I LOVE the word comicker.  I've never heard that.  I want to start using it.

That's a great drawing of K-05, bowing to the hotel guest.  The agents remind me of Osamu Tezuka characters, somehow.  Which is awesome.

Careening cab at the bottom of page 5: Yes, that's exactly how cartoon cars should always be drawn.  In midair like that.  Love it.

They're descending the steps at El Pulpo's -- I love that you take the time to invent this whole, nice living room ... but there had to be a way to arrange it where Pete's word balloon doesn't have to stretch way down to the bottom.  Unacceptable!  (pounding fist on table)

Having heard the CLUNK!, as Pete walks to the door -- again, Feininger-style perfection.  Awesomely simple.

As he's opening the cab door and getting in, I can't understand his face.  Maybe that's some sort of thingy on the edge of the door, but it looks like he's wearing a mask or I don't know what.  Confusion.  But I love the fat, white, speed-tilted tires in that whole sequence.

Last three panels: Pete's ankles have narrowed, compared to the squared legs which I like much more on page 1.

I wish we'd seen some images of Dronar.  It seems like a badly missed opportunity for creative fun, to have a comic within a comic, and never get to see the comic within.  Drone-based super hero comic?  I don't even know what that means, but it sounds hilarious.  I hope we get to see Dronar in the upcoming sequels. ... I'm trying to imagine it. Maybe Dronar is like Rom: SpaceKnight.  Just a weird robot hero, and his assignment is always to assassinate a terrorist.  And he does it, the end.  Then the point is made in narration that our soldiers were kept out of harm's way by our having sent Dronar on the mission.  And the point is also made that Dronar isn't breaking any international treaties or whatever, because he's not human.  He's DRONAR!

Back to the Holy Nib, part 1 -- In the end, I felt like this was all just the set up for the interesting story to come.  I'm sad we didn't get to see more of whatever's coming next.  But, with little to no encouragement from fans and peers, I can't blame you for doing it in chunks, and waiting to see how you like it.  So I'll have to just settle for this first chunk, for now.

I'm very curious as to what this plot is all about.  It seems like the Kartonian agents know who Pete is, but I don't know why they would.  And I don't know whether El Pulpo is in league with them -- is that him in that get-up, or not?  I'm guessing El Pulpo is able to do so little work because he has a whole stable of kids like Pete.  And it seems that the agents want to enable their country to create great comics ... but how that's related to all this, I don't know.

I'm eagerly awaiting parts 2 & 3, so chop-chop!



  1. What a comprehensive, kind, constructive critique. Pure unadulterated genius!

  2. I think so! Maybe a little too kind in places but I guess you're sensitive to the vulnerable egos of your fellow geniuses... ^_^

    BTW - assuming you see this comment - would you mind some time sending me an uncompressed version of that photo of me from the slam that you posted? I liked how it came out, might be handy to have.