Story: Gorence, Pinckney, Koconis
Art: Nicolas Colacitti
First Edition Review Copy 2012
Review By: John M. Scrudder
Time Samplers evokes memories of Quantum & Woody, Atomic Robo, Scud the Disposable assassin, and strangely enough, Planetary. … Does anyone remember Quantum & Woody?
That’s some heavy company to be included with when talking about a first issue by creator Thomas Gorence and primary writer, David Pinckney and jack of all trades (apparently) Nicolas Colacitti, who does all the artwork, colors and lettering.
Time Samplers is a book about a couple of musicians (Cal, who wears a fedora and smokes a pipe, and Lex, who’s reminiscent of a mix of Wes Anderson’s Character Dignan from the film Bottle Rocket and a manic Lex Luthor - is the fact that he’s bald a coincidence?). There's also their best friend a pawn shop owner, and a crazy scientist who's behind some interesting time travelling techniques.
The musicians travel though time - but in a different way than normal. It’s more along the lines of Inception, but instead of existing in a dream world, the two main characters (Cal and Lex) travel through time via dreams by way of the W.I.L.D. Machine (Wake Initiated Lucid Dream Machine). So the bodies stay here in our physical plane while their minds travel though a (copy) of time. It’s really quite an interesting concept.
The story starts off with a nice opening about the scientific comparisons between society (the human mind specifically) and the ability to harness specific elements to control the human race. Behind it all is of course, the antagonist, a man of German origin in a purple overcoat and some sort of burn on the left side of his face, though you can’t see it clearly because his face is hidden in the shadows. Perhaps some sort of reincarnated Nazi General bent on world domination, to be sure.
The location of the HAARP research station is ripe for conspiracy theorists to jump on board and go to town - this is only a precursor to some of the more lavish settings and characters we’ll see further in the issue.
I’m not one who easily laughs out loud. It’s just a rare occasion. There were two parts in this book that made me laugh. One involved a brief conversation between Lex and a nude (yes, nude) Alexander Graham Bell, and the other was a reply the scientist made to the pawn shop owner in regards to what he called the time machine. Very funny stuff, though, I wish I didn't have to refer to them as the scientist and the pawn shop owner.
Okay, so there’s three writers on this project, which seems a bit unusual, but the way the narrative runs I think I can see the break down. Unless I’m wrong, there’s primary writers for each of the following - Scientific Research, American History (specifically in regards to the members of the Jekyll Island Hunt Club) and Character dialogue and interactions.
As far as first issues go, this one was a lot of fun. The key to a successful first issue is getting people to want to come back for the second, which I definitely do. The writing is smart, the pacing is great and the exchange of dialogue in juxtaposition with the supposition is well thought out. Now, let’s dig into this Nicholas Colacitti character, shall we?
The cover art is fantastic, right down to the title and the publishing company logo (Paranoid American) It gives you a sense of something much larger happening under the hood, and indeed there is - Colacitti is a cartooning storyteller of this day and age. There isn’t much here that’s influenced from the early greats - Kirby, Sternako, Romita, Adams, Wrightson or any of the Ilk. Nor are there influences of the later regime from Image or Dark horse artists - No Chadwick, Allred, McFarlane, Lee or Silvestri here - what we have is an artistic influence of the NOW. The now which I surmise is a collective of uninitiated, unschooled artists. Which isn’t a bad thing. A lot of the great art we enjoy today comes from self taught artists. The difference here, and it’s the most important thing to remember, is that the art is simplistic, but deceiving. Do not mistake simplistic art for poor artistry. The devil is in the details, and that’s where Colacitti shines. You can ignore the characters for the most part, because his artistic style doesn’t really lend itself to any permanent memory store right off the bat. Why do we remember what the characters look like then? Because the background and details within the background push characters to the front of the memory banks.
In the beginning there is a scene of benign shoppers in a mall. The background has small advertisement banners, a man at an ATM machine and a stack of electronic goods in the middle of the floor, and hundreds of silhouetted customers on the upper floor . This evokes much more depth than there should be. It pushes the 10 foreground characters to the front. But this is the magic of illustration and Colacitti does it very well. He hides the vanishing point so far off the page sometimes that the stretch of perspective is almost dizzying. He does this a lot in the first few pages - but he balances it out with bright horizontal panels with frenzied action. It’s a really smart move and keeps the eyes of the reader dancing and it makes for quite an enjoyable ride in regards to the pacing.
The “Set-up” shot in the pawn shop is brilliant. Check out all the items on the wall, the pose of the characters, the seemingly intent description of who they are with a little bit of well placed lines - that’s how an artist conveys the characters moods, attitudes and intentions. And man, those facial expressions - really quite amazing for a start up book!
This book has got a solid story, interesting characters and more than enough reasons to want to see the second issue, which thankfully is in production now.
There’s a short story at the end of the issue which is fantastic, but I’m not going to review it. You’re going to have to pick up a copy to find out what it is. I think it will be well worth your time. Can’t wait for issue 2!
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