And Then I Read: THE ESCAPISTS

Escapists cover
©Michael Chabon and Dark Horse Comics.

Michael Chabon’s novel “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay” has it’s writer and artist team creating comic book characters The Escapist, Luna Moth and others in the Golden Age of Comics. Someone at Dark Horse, or perhaps Chabon himself, had the fine idea of creating actual comics stories about those characters. This series takes the concept one step further: in the present day a trio of young aspiring comics creators get the rights to the characters and begins to produce a new series about them. Then they dress up their letterer, Denny, as The Escapist, and plan a real-life publicity stunt to help promote their comic. (You can see right there one reason why I loved this book!)

Escapists page by Bond

Writer Brian K. Vaughan has done a wonderful job with this story, weaving together a very contemporary story with lots of classic comics elements. Sure, there are plenty of insider nods and jokes, including a very flattering one about me, but the main storyline is strong enough to engage the reader even if they don’t know a lot of comics history. While the credits don’t make it very clear, Philip Bond seems to have done most of the contemporary story art, and I thought his style was perfect for this book. His characters are appealing and real while still fanciful enough to carry the more out-there elements of action and melodrama.

Escapists page

While the main focus is on writer Max Roth, artist Case Weaver and letterer Denny Jones and their struggle to get the series published, interludes show some of the actual comic stories they’re producing, but with interesting twists, such as having the dialogue reflect the thoughts of the creators rather than the story the art is showing. I think this art is by Jason Shawn Alexander, other sections are by Eduardo Barreto.

The plot thickens when a big corporation’s CEO decides he wants to acquire the rights to the characters, and will stop at nothing to get them. Vaughan deftly weaves together his knowledge of the comics business with an exciting, yet believable storyline.

Great stuff. Nice lettering by Tom Orzechowski, too, which I don’t get to see enough of these days. Good coloring by Dave Stewart, Matt Hollingsworth and others. Excellent cover by Alex Ross. And the introduction by Chabon adds another delightful layer. Highly recommended!

4 thoughts on “And Then I Read: THE ESCAPISTS

  1. Bryan

    Hi Todd,

    Glad you liked The Escapists. I did too.

    Regarding the credits (which are confusing), Bond only did the first issue and Eduardo Barreto did all the following issues. Evidently scheduling conflicts caused the change in artist as the first issue appeared in Escapist Quarterly long before the series came out. Barreto did a great job following Bond.

  2. Todd Post author

    HI Bryan,

    I’ve worked with Barreto in the past, and I just don’t think it’s possible for him to imitate Philip Bond’s style that closely. I see Barreto’s work mainly in the 40s flashbacks. Bond’s style is throughout the modern section, though he might have been helped by other young artists.

  3. Jared

    I’m surprised that it’s unclear in the collection. Bond pencilled the first installment, when it was part of the ongoing anthology Escapist book. Dark Horse dropped the format and decided to do Brian K. Vaughn’s The Escapists as a monthly series, and scheduling conflicts led to Bond being replaced by Steve Rolston. Without having the issues in front of me, I’m fairly certain that Rolston handled all of the pencilling duties for the “real world” portions of the book (aside from Bond’s installment). Both Bond and Rolston are very high on my list of favorite illustrators, so I was happy for them both. Jason Shawn Alexander was a wonderful discovery for me in that book, as well.

  4. Bryan

    Yes, Todd, you are correct. Sorry about that.
    Jared is correct too, that it’s Steve Rolston.

    I found even the individual issues to be confusing,
    in that artists were credited, but not to specific pages.

    Regarding Rolston, he did a tremendous job continuing the look from the first issue.

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