Comic Panel Slow Read #30
From Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye #5 | Art by Michael Avon Oeming, colors by Nick Filardi, letters by Clem Robins, written by Jon Rivera and Gerard Way
As a (mostly) daily exercise for 2017, I’m trying to slow down my reading and look deeply at one particular panel of a comic for about 15 minutes in order to really study its construction.
This is such a delightfully weird comic with three really likable lead characters pictured here (right to left: Cave Carson, his daughter Chloe and forgotten DC vigilante from the 1980s, Wild Dog). In this scene, the three are eating something called “Night Pudding” that is making them a little trippy. Oeming uses a slight distortion effect on this panel that is most noticeable on the right half of the picture, from Chloe’s left eye and across to Cave. I assume he’s used a Photoshop filter to give something of a fish-eye lens effect to his drawing but it is possible he drew it this way. There are some very obvious digital effects in other panels that lead me to assume it is a filter though. It’s a perfect effect to use to simulate the beginning of a hallucination kicking in.
Oeming has a style that you’d definitely describe as “cartoony” and seems influenced by the animation style of Bruce Timm. He pares everything down to simple shapes like an animator would do. Wild Dog’s ear in this panel is simply a rectangle with no details drawn in. Cave’s beard is just an outline. He draws Timm-like eyes that are about three times as large as those of most other comic artists, giving them simple almond shapes and very large pupils (except in the case of Wild Dog here whose tiny dots indicate he is not handling the hallucinogens as well). The simply constructed anatomy of Oeming’s characters belies his attention to realistic detail. The slight upturn of the lower lid on Chloe’s right eye is like a slight wince that adds personality to her stare. The lighting is created with flat, simple shapes but adds a lot to everyone’s expression.
There is a little element of Mike Mignola’s style in Oeming here as well. The gothic shadows with the skull engraved into the wall is very Mignola, and so are the occasional stray marks on Wild Dog’s helmet and Chloe’s jacket.
I usually stick to talking about the art but the dialogue is really hilarious here. “I feel like my body is made of sound” is a throwaway line that wouldn’t be out of place in a stoner comedy and actually shouldn’t be out of place in a superhero book (I’m sure there are like 12 people in the DC Universe whose bodies are literally made of sound) but it is eminently quotable.