October 15, 2013

Klarion #4 (Comic Review #3)

Blotchy crimson spots and vermilion stains like gathered rust condense and mottle autumn leaves of whispering gold, strangling the bright, shimmering promises of winter yet to come.

Like a virus the red spreads.

Contaminating and churning, the infesting rash envelopes each leaf fresh from the still of an endless summer in an agonizing grip of blood-freezing ice and a fierce fire of angry colors; the bloody christening of the seasons as they march toward the endless tomorrow.

As the nights grow cold and the days they shorten, the dark reaches for us, for our sanity, our security, our comfort. As lights flicker and shadows crawl, our imagination steals to places of unholy beasts and horror grandeur. We become lost in fear itself and we tremble. We stumble. We fall. The darkness...it takes us.

 Behold, October is upon us.

Welcome to my blog.

Here at www.kdvan.blogspot.com, I like to start the week off with a lengthy bargain bin comic book review. All comic book stores seem to have at least a few boxes dedicated to cheap comic book rejects. Whether these are little known indie comics, one-shots that didn't stand up to the test of time, familiar faces in embarrassing crossovers, or forgotten heroes who've simply been passed over one too often, there's always the opportunity for the occasional dumpster dive to reveal a treasure among the trash. Its time to give this week's book a read, a review, and a rating so you can either add this steal to your reading list, or know to pass over a mounting catastrophe.

Before you all get all feisty from the lack of comic reviews the last couple of weeks, cool it. They will continue to be published on Mondays as previously established. As an individual of uncannily average work ethic and skill, I can only do so much within a single given day. Its quite something to juggle my art career, work opportunities, school, and an ongoing internet personality while constantly marketing myself and my work and all that nonsense while still managing to do normal human things like spending time with friends, family, and myself and just living and enjoying life in general. 

Anyhow, as my introduction so eloquently explained, it is mid-October, and preparations for Halloween are in full swing. In honor of the change of seasons, this month I'll be bringing you three horrifying October themed comic book reviews, undoubtedly sure to bring a trembling to your spine and keep you up late into the night.

So without further ado, I bring to you the first of 3 weeks of October themed comic book reviews! 

Quick Specs:
Title:  Klarion the Witchboy
Issue: #4 out of 4
Publisher: DC
Publication date:  December 2005

Writer:  Grant Morrison
Artist:  Frazer Irving
Letterer:  Pat Brosseau
Associate Editor: Michael Siglain
Editor: Peter Tomasi

Are you possibly as intrigued as I am? Excited to get this review underway? Then let's get to it! My younger sister Jessica lent me this little gem that she picked up for $0.50 at an awesome little hole in the wall comic shop in Eugene. As for the store, If you didn't know it was there, you'd probably miss it. As far as the comic book goes, plenty of people probably avoided making eye contact and purposely passed it over (for shame!). Being a huge fan of all things horror and the occult, I knew she would have something great to kick off a month of terrifying halloween inspired  comic books, and Klarion was just what I was looking for.

Now, take a moment to get a good long look at this cover. No, seriously. A mob of pale-skinned vampire-esque puritans seem to be burning an androgynous child and Hermione's cat Crookshanks at the stake. Flames engulf the whole bottom portion of the comic book cover, as well as the top of his left shoe. Huh. The atmosphere of the scene definitely translates as "witchhunt," but there don't appear to be any witches in sight...Just a poor boy with the same unfortunate hair cut as that guy from Flock of Seagulls. In fact, the whole witch idea is so indefinitely burned into our minds to be associated with females, that I first assumed he was a girl--until I flipped past the comic cover that is. The structure of his face and features strongly suggests otherwise.

I imagine that that haircut is supposed to be reminiscent of horns, but seriously. Look at the similarity here. And you thought that the witch burning part was what was going to give you nightmares.

The title of the book introduces to us the main character of our story, our dashing dimwit of a child, Klarion the witchboy (I believe the appropriate term is warlock, or perhaps, even better, wizard. A childhood spent reading Harry Potter taught me that much). As his fellow witch people (appaently they're all witches) begin to burn him, he yells for his mother, claiming that they don't understand what they're doing and that all are in grave peril--their little fire-burn-a-witchboy-palooza is interrupted by the same digging machine that either flattened the grey jinjo house in Banjo tooie or was Shredder's preferred sewer digging vehicle in TMNT, which proceeds to emerge from beneath the ground leaving the townspeople in an uproar of fear, disbelief, and utter shock. A man aboard the machine claims to be the genetic ancestor of these dilapidated people, and says he has returned to claim the legacy that's rightfully his. The witches release Klarion, and all out war breaks loose between the witch people and these strange new technology savvy immigrants and their untouchable war machines.

The bare bones of this story wasn't really much to sneeze at--nothing we haven't heard before--even the bits that happened in the previous 3 issues weren't exactly novel concepts, as far as my understanding goes. Now, that being said, there were several sharp turns in this story that as a reader, I not only didn't see coming but accepted with warm arms; their indefinite intrigue a vital pulsing organ to the body of the overall story. My absolute favorite bit occurred just after the drill vehicle from hell arrives. Realizing the painful truth in his warning, the witches release Klarion, and his mother orders him to ring the nine ceremonial bells. "Nine bells of welcoming?" the mysterious adverse man who appears to have just stepped off the set of SAW asks. "No," Klarion's mother replies. "Nine to ring our dead back from the fields." And I kid you not, a hoard of zombies shamble through the down pouring rain towards the intrusive burrowers. And that, my friends, is how you tell a story.

In complete honesty, I feel like the cover art for this particular comic book entirely undersells the artwork of this book as a whole. I'm not even sure that the provided scans in this post do justice to the images as you experience them while actually reading the book. I didn't feel necessarily attached to the art style going in, undoubtedly because I was judging this book by its cover (as we're often told as children and young adults and forever constantly judging beings to never do). Something about this art style was both highly attractive and yet completely repulsive; often times I simultaneously felt like I wanted  to look away but at the same time simply couldn't. The Image below shows a panel where Klarion and his demon cat  join together as one sentient being to fight the onslaught of attackers. The overall effect is absolutely stunning. The image is extremely stylized but gorgeous nonetheless. Bizarre? yes. Disturbing? Quite. Completely Awesome? You bethcha.

So what was it that made Klarion stand out to me as a comic book? 

The story and plot was decent, well-paced, and fairly easy to follow despite odd supporting details and bizarre twists in events. I absolutely adored the art style. There were some character design choices I questioned, and it wasn't perhaps my all-time favorite art style, but the pictures were fluent and graceful; action sequences powerful, perspective employed to an effective degree. The cat demon beast? Fantastic. And the colors coordinated with the theme of the story and overall atmosphere. This comic was a basic but effective example of how pictures should not simply aid the words but tell a story of their own; both panels and words should pull equal weight of the storytelling load in a well-balanced illustrated story.

Now, let the negativity commence.

Klarion's hair was a bit to be desired. And I'm certain that's understating it. His hairdresser ought to be fired, but despite his sinful style choices and personal preference, his haircut seems to not impede the actual story in any significant way. I didn't care much for his personality either, as he seemed sort of hollow and generic as a character, especially considering he was the main character. And not in a clever, Holden Caulfield sort of way. Another thing that deeply bothered me was that little was said about the main villain or adversary, and I wasn't quite sure why he was considered threatening as far as designs go. Slanting eyebrows on any character type doesn't necessarily make them a villain, but then again, perhaps the artist was trying to distract from the fact that he looks more than a little like Jigsaw.

As a final thought, I'd like to share this little tidbit with you: Clarion is a type of loud and resounding horn; also defined as clear and loud. Also, I forgot everything memorable in this comic book once I flipped past the last page and saw the full page Fable advertisement there, and had the sudden urge to play RPG games.

Story: 3 stars
art: 5 stars
Theme: 3 stars
Characters: 3 stars
Presentation: 5 stars

Overall: 4 out of 5 star performance

This was actually a surprisingly good read. No, really. It wasn't half bad. After doing a tad of research, Klarion turns out to be a four part mini-series introducing the origin story of the character before his appearance in Seven Soldiers (whatever that is). I don't know the specifics, as I haven't read the rest of the series or this other one, but if you have, feel free to comment and tell me what you thought of this book and what role his character plays in this other series.

I recommend purchasing the whole 4 issue set if you're tempted to buy any at all: a whole $2.00. Better empty your pockets, or search beneath the cushions for some loose change.

Facebook: Krystal Dawn
Twitter: KrystalDawnArt
DeviantART: kekei94
Etsy: KrystalDawnShop

October 1, 2013

Conspiracy Theory

Sometimes we don't know what to say.

The important thing to remember is to say something--anything-- rather than say nothing at all.

So I will say this: an individual's capability and capacity to comprehend and understand art as an experience, and not just as a picture, is remarkable to say the least. 

Countless times we were asked in my Understanding Art class in college (1 of the only 2 competent art classes I've ever attended) to analyze, criticize, and break apart the inner workings of various art works and creative projects. Like dismantling a clock and explaining why the cogs turned and how it made the machine work as a whole, we were told to separate the layers of each individual piece.

For our final project we were asked to complete the opposite task.

We chose an emotion, idea or experience of significance to our reflection on the human experience and were asked to make and build the art around it. Instead of stripping down an artwork, we clothed a concept with paint and glitter and facade.

This is "Conspiracy Theory" an artwork by Krystal Dawn.

I could explain what the main concept was behind this piece, but that tends to eliminate the human element. Suddenly this interaction between artist and viewer becomes a show and tell rather than an experience.

Somebody in the class asked me if this piece was a self portrait. 
I said no. But I guess, in a way, it is.

We are so accustomed to having the "answer" to anything and everything so readily available at our fingertips that when life presents us with moments where we are required to spend more than a second considering or contemplating a possible interpretation that fails to be a straight forward thought from point A to B, we write it off as undeserving of our attention. What we do not instantly understand, or cannot immediately solve is, without question, worthless. Such an assumption is ridiculous.

This artwork tells a story. 


I wish I had a personal scanner large enough to scan this artwork and others of this size; I had to default to taking a photograph in order to share the image in its entirety. The lighting in the room was terrible, and I did the best I could to save the integrity of this drawing while adjusting the brightness of the photo. Minor edits were made to the image due to damages that occurred ages ago when transporting it from the showcase where it was on display at the college and back to my home by means of the pubic transportation system. I don't care for long bus rides much.

As far as updates go, there is an onslaught of brand new artwork headed your way, my friends. Look for my new projects on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and of course right here at www.kdvan.blogspot.com. A preview of a brand new collage was uploaded to Twitter a couple of hours ago, and the full image will be revealed later this afternoon. Another collage will be uploaded tomorrow as well! FRIENDZONE has been put on the back burner, but only temporarily. I fully intend to bring you guys a second installment that shows massive improvement in comparison to the first. Expect that within the next couple of weeks.

Let me know what you guys think of this and what you think the meaning is behind the image and title. I'm interested in hearing your thoughts on the matter.

Krystal Dawn

Facebook: Krystal Dawn
Twitter: KrystalDawnArt
DeviantART: kekei94


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