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27 May 2009

The Pistoleers #1 by Dan Nokes.

The Pistoleers #1 by Dan Nokes.
Black and white standard pamphle sized comic with cover colors. $5.00

Dense is the main word that comes to mind when I think about this comic. Everything about it is dense. The story, the writing, the drawing, the inking, the layouts, the lettering and even the page count. I like this comic a lot more in theory than in reality. It's a Civil War era western style story so that's cool with me. I'm all into that. I also like a lot of the character designs and the drawing has a lot of life and motion to it. My problems with the book are the same problems I have with just about any Marvel or DC book I've picked up in the past five or so years. The storytelling seems like it was learned from reading nothing but current mainstream comic books. What I mean is that it has a lot of dynamic panels but as a reader, trying to follow from one panel to the the next, the pacing does not make much sense and I often have a hard time figuring what is going on. Simple things like not being able to figure out which character is speaking seem to be totally acceptable in mainstream comics today so it was probably not something Nokes put a lot of thought into himself.
I am impressed by the ambition of the book. Fifty pages crammed full of art and words and all that other stuff you'd expect in comics with a pretty big cast and a complex story. It also has a neat blank page in the back where Nokes was able to add a nice custom drawing. Nokes can draw but there is a lot of inconsistency. I can imagine putting together a book this ambitious as a one man team can be a big challenge but I think the best thing Nokes could have done would be to slow down and simplify. Simplify page layouts. Maybe four to six panels a page. Simplify the drawing. There is a lot of unnecessary rendering and I get that. Mainstream comics are all about unnecessary rendering. The difference is that the mainstream guys have a team doing all that and when it's just one guy you see some weaknesses. Some of Nokes panels are great but there are lots of spots where the inking is inconsistent. There are also spots where a lot of the pencil under drawing is still visible. That in and of itself is not a bad thing. It is actually an en vogue style at the moment. The problem is that when it is not consistent from panel to panel it can be distracting. There are also some distracting little things about the print of the book. I'm seldom a fan of computer lettering and in this case the printed lettering came out pixilated or something. It reads okay. It's just not as sharp as it could be.
For me what makes me love an artist is never about the drawing chops. It's about an artist that can create a consistent cartoon world from panel to panel so that I can escape to that place and watch the story happen. Nokes has come up with a place I would like to visit. I like the idea of the thing but I think if he would relax a bit, take it down a notch and simplify, then the comic would be a much more enjoyable place to escape.

Your best pal ever,
Shannon Smith
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