Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Greyshirt is a sneaky fellow

No new comics list again this week?  I'm sick again, somehow.  Dammit.  Does this mean the end of the long-running feature?  Maybe!

Anyway, I've got another thing to write later this week, but for right now, I wanted to mention a series that I recently finished reading and thought was quite good:

That would be Greyshirt: Indigo Sunset, a 2002 miniseries by Rick Veitch (and a few others), telling the origin of his and Alan Moore's Eisner-inspired character from the Tomorrow Stories anthology series.  I picked up all the individual issues out of my store's discount bin a long time ago, and I finally got around to reading them.  I don't know why I waited so long, but I'm sorry I did; it was an excellent series, using a large variety of storytelling techniques to weave a complex, years-long tale.  Each issue sees a story that tells some of the Spirit-esque character's history, and another features a crime story that involves him in some way, similar to those Will Eisner Spirit stories that were more about playing with the medium and doing something innovative than his supposed main character.  Veitch got a nice lineup of friends to help him out with these, including David Lloyd, Dave Gibbons (who only gets to write one story, rather than provide any art), Hilary Barta, John Severin, Russ Heath, Al Williamson, and, um, Frank Cho.

And to make matters more interesting, each issue contains a section that emulates the newspaper which shares the series' title, and it's a fully-fleshed-out paper, with articles, comic strips, ads, horoscopes, classifieds, personals, and gossip and advice columns.  And while some of these flesh out the comics stories in the issues, others give clues about the backstory and set up plot points for future issues.  Most interestingly, the cover of each (comics) issue doesn't refer to anything that happens in the comics sections, but instead a story that is told in one of the newspaper articles.  It's a nice, intricate package, and it's incredibly fun to take it all in.

And those comics stories are excellent as well, using all sorts of Eisner-like formal play.  One story sees a comics writer (who writes a gangster series based on the exploits of the young main character; lots of layers here) narrate the tale from outside of the panels; he even shows up in a later story to affect things.  In another, a song provides a framing story for another flashback. One short story uses the metaphor-heavy narration that Veitch would put to use a few years later in his 9/11-themed graphic novel Can't Get No.

So, yeah, it's good stuff.  If you like Veitch and managed to miss out on this, you owe it to yourself to hunt down either the original issues or the collected version.  Don't miss out as long as I did.


  1. Nothing against the stuff you have posted, but I'd miss the weekly feature. Putting together yours and Jogs has introduced me to some great stuff.

    That being said, I bow to your remarkable consistency in the face of having a kid. I think I can fight off my selfish tears.

    (but not my rage.)

  2. Yeah, Indigo Sunset is pretty rad. I remember when I first read the first issue thinking it was really weak -- it all seems like a bunch of random, unconnected stuff.

    Then you read issue 2, and 3, and watch as these threads slowly connect in all these different ways ... it's a really keen cognitive effect that's created as they come together.

    Have you read the Greyshirt stories in Tomorrow Stories? If you've read those, you appreciate a whole other level of cleverness, seeing how Veitch ties the Alan-Moore-written stories into the Indigo Sunset tapestry. (And Moore makes it explicitly clear, in his foreward to the collected edition, that there was no grand design in mind when they did those original stories. Veitch just tied them in after the fact.)

    Neat stuff. Definitely the best thing by Veitch that I've ever read.

  3. I've read a few of the Tomorrow Stories, um, stories, although the one I remember most is the justly notorious one that takes place in a four story building, with each story (of the building, that is) taking place in a different decade. That one gets a reference (or several) here, and I'm sure there's plenty others that get tied in. I'll have to try to reread some of those sometime and see what else I spot. Man, Rick Veitch is pretty great.

  4. This was a pretty great series... I think it was the first non-Moore ABC book too, which might have wound up stacking my expectations a little high... but yeah, Veitch really clicked with that subject matter... probably the best stuff he'd done in years, actually...