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Review: Big Girls #1

BigGirls1Review

GOING BIG WITH JASON HOWARD: BIG GIRLS #1

Story and Art: Jason Howard
Letters: Fonografiks
Published By: Image Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

We, comic book fans are no stranger to certain “rituals”, unique to our geekdom, such as keeping and treasuring hundreds of pollybaged floppies in long boxes – all of which might or might not be read ever again – or getting multiple copies of our favorite books in a myriad of formats. But perhaps, one of the most enjoyable of those rituals is picking up a #1 issue of a book we’ve never heard of before at our friendly LCS (Local Comicbook Shop). And it gets even better when said #1 issue is as good as the debut of BIG GIRLS, the first solo project of renowned artist Jason Howard (Trees, Astounding Wolfman).

Released a couple of weeks back by Image Comics, Big Girls is set sometime in the future, years after an incident – of which we only get a few clues in this first issue – detonated a genetic disease that affected both men and women alike, but with a big (pun intended) twist: men could grow into giant, kaiju-like, mindless monsters, while women simply grew several stories high, retaining their intelligence and human appearance.

While not every human is affected by this mysterious disease, this situation is already part of the culture and everyday life of this world´s society. Pregnancy registration became mandatory, in order to monitor any potential anomaly, and safe zones were put in place for regular citizens to live in. However, constant male monster attacks call for a special team dedicated to fight them back and keep people safe. A team of – wait for it – BIG GIRLS.

Although this is Jason’s first project as a full author, and despite carrying a good heap of exposition in the first issue, the book flows with a comfortable rhythm through the panels, using every available page to tell the story. And when I say every available page, I really mean it: even the usual credit page in almost every Image book is used as an establishing shot to kick start the story.

Jason is doing every part of the artwork: layouts, pencils, inks and colors, helped only by Fonografiks with the lettering. His art in BIG GIRLS has much more in common with his previous work in Trees than with his other longest-running book in Image Comics: Astounding Wolfman. Like in Trees, his inks are rougher and edgier, and he uses crosshatching to add depth to both characters and backgrounds. To some readers this stylistic choice could make them think that the artwork is a bit “dirty”, but it fits nicely with the world the characters live in and the situations they have to face on a daily basis.

His composition and storytelling are very clear and easy to follow, and his character’s designs allows the reader to fully identify who´s who in the panels. Manga and anime aficionados will immediately recognize certain influences in the creatures ‘design, the clothes and equipment of Ember –our main character so far- and the composition of certain shots, used both in classic franchises such as Neon Genesis Evangelion and modern day favorites like Attack On Titan.

All in all, BIG GIRLS # 1 is a solid debut for a new regular series, and I strongly recommend you to grab a copy at your friendly LCS or digital comic store of your choosing (Comixology, Google Play and Apple Books).

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Trunk Bubbles

Thomas Nachlik

ThomasNachlikFeatured

Name: Thomas Nachlik

Website: For my portfolio, here. For (almost) daily art snippets, here.

Favorite Comic Book Character Growing Up: All DC characters, but mostly Batman.

Favorite Comic Book Character Now: None. I rarely read comic books because of the main character, now almost exclusively because of the artist.

Latest Work: (Title/Publisher/Release Date) “The Beauty”/Image Comics/Ongoing.

TrunkSpace: How would you describe your art style?
Nachlik: Highly ADHD influenced digital, constantly flowing post realism.

TrunkSpace: How important were comic books in your life growing up and is that where you discovered your love and inspiration for drawing?
Nachlik: Extremely important. From the moment I got my hands on my first comic book I started drawing like a maniac. Luckily in Poland, where I spent the first 13 years of my life, comic books were extremely popular, and stylistically the local comic book scene wasn’t too far away from American mainstream. So after a friend gave me my first Batman book to read, I already felt at home. That friend recommended to me as well to visit DMG Entertainment on Facebook where they sell comics that I might like, I’m always up for new ways of getting comics!

TrunkSpace: Was there a particular artist or title from your childhood that you remember being drawn to and inspired by?
Nachlik: In the beginning, Polish titles and artists were my main inspiration, “Thorgal”/Rosi?ki to name one title/artist combo. Later, Jim Aparo and “Batman and the Outsiders.”

TrunkSpace: How did you decide to approach your career in comics? Did you formulate a plan of how you wanted to attack what is known for being a hard industry to crack?
Nachlik: Building up a strong portfolio and putting all my money and hopes into connecting with American comic book publishers and illustrators (I live in Germany now, btw) was my only one, and I think IS the most effective plan.

TrunkSpace: What was your biggest break in terms of a job that opened more doors for you?
Nachlik: Definitely visiting my first American con, Wizard World Chicago 2007. I met Filip Sablik, at this time the Top Cow marketing guy who is now publisher at BOOM! Studios. He liked my portfolio, and we both found out that we were born only a few miles away in the south of Poland. A few months later I got my first gig at Top Cow.

TrunkSpace: A lot of people say that breaking into comics is the hardest part of working in comics. How long did it take you before you started to see your comic book dreams become a reality?
Nachlik: Purely mathematically speaking, I started working on my first comic portfolio back in 1991 and got published for the first time in 2006/07, so roughly 15 years from the moment I started to actively pursue a career in comics, to a toe (definitely not foot) in the door. On the other hand, I don’t think I’m nearly at the point where all my comic book dreams have become reality, but drawing a series at Image is a gigantic step in the right direction.

TrunkSpace: Is there a particular character or universe you always find yourself returning to when you’re sketching or doing warm-ups?
Nachlik: It’s not a character or universe, it’s always “ink heavy” artists like John Paul Leon, Jae Lee or Tomm Cocker, to name a few, who I draw inspiration from when sketching. I’m rarely a fan of stories and characters – always a fan of art, style and storytelling.

TrunkSpace: Is there a specific title or character that you’d like to work on in the future and why?
Nachlik: I’d do whatever the opportunity throws at me. I consider myself a classic comic book illustrator, there’s nothing I wouldn’t like to draw or any particular genre/character I’d like to work on.

TrunkSpace: What is your ultimate dream when it comes to your career in comics? Where would you like your path to lead?
Nachlik: Spending my days drawing comic books is my ultimate dream, so I’m living my dream already.

TrunkSpace: What would you say is the greatest strength as an artist?
Nachlik: Handling criticism is number one, followed by improving constantly.

TrunkSpace: How has technology changed your process of putting ideas/script to page? Do you use the classic paper/pencil approach at all anymore?
Nachlik: 99.9 percent of my work is digital – the only pages I draw on paper are covers, maybe splash pages and nudity, because sex sells. (Laughter) For my backgrounds, I use high quality 3D models I mostly buy, but also build or rearrange from my extensive 3D model library. Producing fast while maintaining quality is the most important aspect of comic book illustration. Technology made my work faster and more accurate, allowing me to work 8 to 10 hours a day, instead of 12 to 14 hours. This being said, I still love sketching on paper, trying out new techniques, pens, brushes and markers.

TrunkSpace: What advice would you give another young aspiring artist who is considering a career in the comic industry?
Nachlik: Draw from reality and develop your own style. Don’t become an artist, become an illustrator. Remember that speed is an important part of comic book illustration, which also is a business. In order to sell you have to please a crowd. Educate yourself constantly. Never give up.

TrunkSpace: Making appearances at conventions: Love it, leave it, or a combination of both?
Nachlik: 70 percent leave it, 30 percent a little bit of both. I don’t do well in crowds and I’m not a fan of live drawing. I’m practicing at my local Starbucks to draw in front of people without freaking out, but I’m not there yet. Connecting with fans and signing books, mostly at my home, is not a problem. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: What is the craziest/oddest thing you’ve ever been asked to draw as a commission?
Nachlik: No commission is crazy or odd.

TrunkSpace: What else can fans of your work look forward to in 2018?
Nachlik: More work on “The Beauty.” I’m finishing the fourth arc as we speak.

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