The Dottiest Comic Around – Longshot Comics by Shane Simmons
Every now and then, the argument starts up, who is more important in a comic book, the artist or the writer? Whether in the comic store, in the matters page, on message boards or social media you can be guaranteed that it will kick off at some point. The correct answer is both but that never stops the argument. The writer is the first person at the blank page, all stems from the writer so they are more important. Or the artist is the reason people read comics rather than prose, everything you see on the page is the art, that if you took away the words you would still have a comic but if you took away the art, you would not. But you would still have a written, silent comic, a comic without a writer is a pin-up book. Of course, the artist can be a writer far more convincingly than a writer can be an artist. And then, etc, etc, look it really is this tedious.
But just for fun I like to throw in Longshot Comics. No, not the Marvel character from Anne Nocenti and Art Adams but the series of graphic novellas by Shane Simmons that recently got a third in the series, twenty years after the first two were published. Huge period drama tales of politics, social class, adventure, war, poverty, famine, birth and rebirth across the decades with unluckiest dynasty, the Gethers family. And all told with nothing but a series of dots representing each character, the words they say and the captions of scene/time shifts. Unarguably comics, nay, one of the finest, funniest and revistitable comic books going. Anyone can pick it up and enjoy it, and it can also be used as a part of the tedious argument above – who needs artists when a writer can make as funny and clever a comic as this, without one?
It's a false argument of course, just as the comic created by an artist without a writer, simply means that the artist is now a writer as well. So the Longshot Comics trilogy aren't just created by a writer, but Shane Simmons is an artist as well, just in this instance choosing to be a very basic one, and making that a strength. Because Shane has to make many, many artistic choices when telling this story, often to do with pacing, pull back and reveals and the inexorable reality that you only know these heartbreaking characters through tiny dots. But still funny.
Shane Simmons says he always knows when Bleeding Cool writes about Longshot Comics as he gets a bit of a sales bump. Here's hoping again – and hoping that you will enjoy one of the greatest comic books ever created. And then you get to tell other people how clever you are for knowing all this.
The legendary epic-minimalistic graphic novel is back in print for its 25th anniversary! Told in an unprecedented format of 3840 panels in a single comic book, The Long and Unlearned Life of Roland Gethers tells the tale of a Welsh coal-mining family through the highs and lows of the British Empire, the Victorian era, and both World Wars.
With every character depicted as a distant dot, the bare-bones artwork lends itself to subtle visual humour, and opens the story up to a world of rich character development and savagely witty dialogue.
Featured in international museum exhibits, discussed in academic texts, and presented in lectures about sequential storytelling and character design, Longshot Comics has remained a cult favourite through a quarter century of multiple formats, editions, and translations.
Overlapping and continuing the saga that began with The Long and Unlearned Life of Roland Gethers, the critically acclaimed graphic novel that first took the comics industry by storm in 1993, Book Two follows the journey of Roland's grandson, Bradley, through the turmoil of World War II, the tradition of the British theatre, the glitz of Hollywood, the paranoia of the communist witch hunts, and the hallowed halls of academia.
As epic in scale as its predecessor, The Failed Promise of Bradley Gethers ushers the saga through the 20th century, and into a new modern era that threatens to fragment the Gethers family just as it seeks to escape the lower-class grind of a defunct empire.
Twenty-five years after the release of The Long and Unlearned Life of Roland Gethers, this highly anticipated prequel charts the daring and disastrous adventures of the Gethers family during the American Revolutionary War, The War of 1812, both Opium Wars, and the misery and majesty of Victorian England.
Another 3840 panels draws readers through the many turns of fortune that threaten to make or break Roland's grandfather, Filson, (as well as the entire British Empire) in the colonial era and beyond.
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