Oliver's Travels

the development of a new world

The Creative Diet: Starman Omnibus

January5

I have heard the old adage “you are what you eat” a million times in my life and I have always regarded it with some skepticism. I mean if that were true I would surely be a walking, talking Swedish Fish by now. But the idea that we are in some small part made of what we consume has always struck a cord with me, especially when it comes to our imagination.

It is with that in mind that I am kicking off a semi-regular feature here on the BCC blog. I am calling it My Creative Diet. I have always been interested to see how the things I have read, watched, eaten, heard and visited have affected my creative process. Plus I enjoy sharing the things I love with my friends.

To kick it off I am going to recommend Starman, no, no not the semi-classic 80’s movie staring the “dude” himself Jeff Bridges, the fantastic comic series from the 90’s by James Robinson and Tony Harris.

My first exposure to Starman was in college. My roommate Darrin and I would go to the comic store every Wednesday after 2D design. I remember those trips so fondly, we would head out as soon as class ended and go get comics then stop at the Highland Park diner for the best cheeseburger and pie Rochester had to offer. It was a weekly ritual that was rarely interrupted or deviated from. I know what your thinking and no, I was not very popular with the ladies.

On one of those trips Darrin bought Starman 0 which came out as a part of the Zero Hour event going on in the DCU at that time. Darrin was hooked after the first issue and started buying it regularly and I did what any poor college student would do. I read his. Anyone that ever had a roommate knows how this ends. Your roomy moves away with his or her stuff and six months to a year go buy and you are rummaging around looking for that “thing” that you remember having and it dawns on you that it is in Iowa or wherever your friend has gone and it was never yours to start with.

Needless to say I lost touch with Starman and missed the bulk of its six-year run. I was very excited when I heard that DC has recently begun re-releasing the entire series run in a series of hefty graphic novels. On a recent vacation I was able to sit and dig into the first volume. Some of these issues I had read in college but a lot of comics have passed through my hands since then and it all had the vague, hazy film that time seems to stain our memories with.

Reading it again was a revelation. Let me say first that I love the Justice Society characters. For those of you who are not fluent in comic nerd, these are the first generation of heroes in the DC Universe. Before Superman, Batman and all the others you know there was Doc. Midnight, Hourman, Mr. Terrific, Starman and so many others. This book is as much about their story and legacy as it is any of the new characters that are introduced. These characters are from the greatest generation and they represent a different time in America and in comics, in a lot of ways the story of Starman is about bridging those two eras of comics.

At its heart though it is a story about fathers, sons and the legacy we leave both good and bad. That is what makes it work so well. This is a story about a son reluctant to take over the family business, to give up his own dreams for his father and his community. Only instead of a building and loan, or a vacuum cleaner store the family business is super heroing. Once he takes over the mantle he starts to learn more about his father and what he went through and why he did it all those years. In turn as his father sees his son take on his legacy and do it in his own way. It makes for a great relationship to read.

James Robinson creates real people in these characters. By the time you finish the first issue you feel like you met a new person in Jack Knight, by the time you finish issue five you feel like you have known Jack your whole life. He owns a collectible store, he likes old things, he likes old movies, and he has issues with his older brother and his father. He feels real, unique and believable and it makes the fantastic situations he gets in seem that much more real. Maybe that is the key to writing stories like these, an anchor of realism makes the fantastic easier for the reader to buy into. I am not a good enough writer to know, but this series certainly made me think about it.

A lot of credit goes to Tony Harris. The art is fantastic and exciting for me on a couple levels. The first is Tony Harris. He is a gifted penciler and creator who has over the years developed a very unique signature style. The roots of that can be found here in this book. You can really see his style take shape over the first five issues and then become refined. His page layouts improve and become more and more creative. His figures and facial expressions get better and better. It is really something to watch an artist find their way like that. The second thing was the design work, the character designs were so good and well thought out. Some of it was small details like the retro art deco style of Opal City and it’s citizens. Other things like having Jack fight crime in his street clothes and black leather jacket instead of a costume created a visual break that reinforced the changing of the generations and the darker tone of the modern day story. It is really great when an artist and a writer feed into each other like that.

There is just so much in this first volume that is everything I love about comics and why I keep reading them. Not only was this first volume a rip roaring action packed four color adventure, it really got me thinking about my story telling and how I am crafting my characters. I already have the second volume of this great series and I am ready to dig in!

If any of you out there have read Starman I would love to hear your thoughts and if you haven’t you’d better have Amazon open in another window, do yourself a favor, click buy now… do it.

Thanks for putting up with my ramblings.

Joshua

I have heard the old adage “you are what you eat” a million times in my life and I have always regarded it with some skepticism. I mean if that were true I would surely be a walking, talking Swedish Fish by now. But the idea that we are in some small part made of what we consume has always struck a cord with me, especially when it comes to our imagination.
It is with that in mind that I am kicking off a semi-regular feature here on the BCC blog. I am calling it My Creative Diet. I have always been interested to see how the things I have read, watched, eaten, heard and visited have affected my creative process. Plus I enjoy sharing the things I love with my friends.
To kick it off I am going to recommend Starman, no, no not the semi-classic 80’s movie staring the “dude” himself Jeff Bridges, the fantastic comic series from the 90’s by James Robinson and Tony Harris.
My first exposure to Starman was in college. My roommate Darrin and I would go to the comic store every Wednesday after 2D design. I remember those trips so fondly, we would head out as soon as class ended and go get comics then stop at the Highland Park diner for the best cheeseburger and pie Rochester had to offer. It was a weekly ritual that was rarely interrupted or deviated from. I know what your thinking and no, I was not very popular with the ladies.
On one of those trips Darrin bought Starman 0 which came out as a part of the Zero Hour event going on in the DCU at that time. Darrin was hooked after the first issue and started buying it regularly and I did what any poor college student would do. I read his. Anyone that ever had a roommate knows how this ends. Your roomy moves away with his or her stuff and six months to a year go buy and you are rummaging around looking for that “thing” that you remember having and it dawns on you that it is in Iowa or wherever your friend has gone and it was never yours to start with.
Needless to say I lost touch with Starman and missed the bulk of its six-year run. I was very excited when I heard that DC has recently begun re-releasing the entire series run in a series of hefty graphic novels. On a recent vacation I was able to sit and dig into the first volume. Some of these issues I had read in college but a lot of comics have passed through my hands since then and it all had the vague, hazy film that time seems to stain our memories with.
Reading it again was a revelation. Let me say first that I love the Justice Society characters. For those of you who are not fluent in comic nerd, these are the first generation of heroes in the DC Universe. Before Superman, Batman and all the others you know there was Doc. Midnight, Hourman, Mr. Terrific, Starman and so many others. This book is as much about their story and legacy as it is any of the new characters that are introduced. These characters are from the greatest generation and they represent a different time in America and in comics, in a lot of ways the story of Starman is about bridging those two eras of comics.
At its heart though it is a story about fathers, sons and the legacy we leave both good and bad. That is what makes it work so well. This is a story about a son reluctant to take over the family business, to give up his own dreams for his father and his community. Only instead of a building and loan, or a vacuum cleaner store the family business is super heroing. Once he takes over the mantle he starts to learn more about his father and what he went through and why he did it all those years. In turn as his father sees his son take on his legacy and do it in his own way. It makes for a great relationship to read.
James Robinson creates real people in these characters. By the time you finish the first issue you feel like you met a new person in Jack Knight, by the time you finish issue five you feel like you have known Jack your whole life. He owns a collectible store, he likes old things, he likes old movies, and he has issues with his older brother and his father. He feels real, unique and believable and it makes the fantastic situations he gets in seem that much more real. Maybe that is the key to writing stories like these, an anchor of realism makes the fantastic easier for the reader to buy into. I am not a good enough writer to know, but this series certainly made me think about it.
A lot of credit goes to Tony Harris. The art is fantastic and exciting for me on a couple levels. The first is Tony Harris. He is a gifted penciler and creator who has over the years developed a very unique signature style. The roots of that can be found here in this book. You can really see his style take shape over the first five issues and then become refined. His page layouts improve and become more and more creative. His figures and facial expressions get better and better. It is really something to watch an artist find their way like that. The second thing was the design work, the character designs were so good and well thought out. Some of it was small details like the retro art deco style of Opal City and it’s citizens. Other things like having Jack fight crime in his street clothes and black leather jacket instead of a costume created a visual break that reinforced the changing of the generations and the darker tone of the modern day story. It is really great when an artist and a writer feed into each other like that.
There is just so much in this first volume that is everything I love about comics and why I keep reading them. Not only was this first volume a rip roaring action packed four color adventure, it really got me thinking about my story telling and how I am crafting my characters. I already have the second volume of this great series and I am ready to dig in!
If any of you out there have read Starman I would love to hear your thoughts and if you haven’t you’d better have Amazon open in another window, do yourself a favor, click buy now… do it.
Thanks for putting up with my ramblings.
Joshua