Sean Maher's Quality Control

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

APE Decompression: Gone But Not Forgotten

As I walked up to the Team 8 Design table, I saw a lot of cool-looking shit (art prints, t-shirts, mini-comics...), but one book caught my eye in particular. The cover was sticking up, revealing some interior artwork, and when I picked it up and started flipping through I was amazed at the quality of it.

"I'm making another one!" somebody shouted from behind the table. I looked over and saw him bent over what looked like a paper slicer. "The cover won't be fucked up!"

Well, it was a bit of last-minute work, but I had to admire the man's gumption.

And the artwork was awesome, so I waited it out. Have to give the fellow credit: he didn't shake easy. He took his time and made sure the new copy was perfect, even with me standing there in front of him. I mean, that'll plumb rattle some fellows, won't it?

Turned out it was the writer and artist of the book, Ian Sampson. He was friendly and confident, which was a relief - this was one of my first stops and I hate to start the convention off on the wrong foot with nervous, mousy types who don't even like their own work.

Anyway, the book itself: like I said, the art is a real goddamn eye-catcher. I thought at first glance I was seeing some Geof Darrow influence, but I think that was just because of the detailed inking. Sampson does great work with the black and white format here, playing with different levels of contrast and starkness to enhance the story of a sin-eater, a ritualistic holy man of some kind, who comes to a lonely mountain shack on the occaision of a death. The family seems wary but brings him into their home and lets him do his thing; but their response to him when it's finished surprised me, and made a chilling end to what I realized was a wanderer's story, about a powerful, strong, but tortured and lonely man.

It's all done in pantomime, so a lot of this is just my interpretation. These things are fun like that, when they're not trying to point out every little thing the writer wants you to notice. This is a more subtle book than that; Sampson seems to invite interpretation.

I wish I could post some images; I don't have a scanner and there doesn't seem to be much in the way of comics content on the website. But I'll throw an e-mail at 'em and see if I can't get something for you by the end of the week, 'kay?

EDIT: Done and done. Behold!







(Click images to enlarge. There are NOT in sequence, just some pages I thought you'd dig. If you'd like to check out Ian Sampson's work, the Team 8 website's a little light; try his mySpace account, or e-mail him at ian [at] team8design.com.)
 
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