Why Everyone Who Loves Comics Should Read Amethyst
Not the article’s true title, but in it you will discover Why Everyone Who Loves Comics Should Read Amethyst. At least a few of the reasons.
I try to grab copies from the quarter bins at every comic con I attend so I can give them to friends. One of the finest examples ever of why comics are great. It’s not just a really solidly-constructed story written with panache and enthusiasm, it also features some of what I like to call “pure comics”.
Don’t believe me? Check out this amazing page from the original maxi-series drawn by Ernie Colón:
I’ve talked with Dan Mishkin about this particular page. He said that Ernie would constantly provide him with challenges in word balloon placement. You see, back then the writers did what’s called “balloon spotting”; figuring out where the word balloons were to go on the penciled art.
Let’s look at the reading direction the balloons take with an Indiana Jones-style tracking line:
Wow, all over the place! But I’ll bet you that you were able to read the page just fine without me pointing that out to you. Here’s where the magic of pure comics happens. Look what the combo of Ernie’s layout with Mishkin’s balloon spotting resulted in:
Panel two’s dialogue bleeds over into panel three, and there is responding dialogue back in panel two again! In other words, Panel two’s moment gets used twice in the narrative. But best of all, the character Granch is being rooted to the ground in panel three by Citrina’s spell, but that’s also part of panel five when Citrina is sitting defeated in her chair. So panel three also does double-duty as panel five!
Yet we read it with ease. That’s probably the most exciting aspect of all. They pulled it together so as not to let inventive paneling and layout distract us from the narrative.
Why is this pure comics? Because no other storytelling medium could pull this off.
And the original Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld maxi-series is full to the lid with these kinds of storytelling moments. It’s more than just a well-crafted piece of fiction–it’s a process nerd’s dream come true, and a worthy piece of comics to study.
I still maintain that Colón can’t possibly be from this planet. He’s that inventive. Or maybe he’s come back from the future to show all of us neanderthal cartoonists how to do it right.