We’ve focused a lot on comic book writers in 741.5, while neglecting the other side, the artists. Great comic books are more than just the writing and plot, there is a big, impossible to overlook element : the art. No, not drawings, art!
Ben Templesmith, an Australian comic book artist and writer, has a very recognizable and eccentric artistic style. He is best known for his work on popular comics like 30 Days of Night, Doctor Who, and Batman: Gotham by Night. However, with the exception of Batman, he mostly draws and writes for the smaller comic book publications like Image Comics and IDW Publishing. These smaller outfits are more likely to publish comic books from lesser known artists and their subject matter is almost entirely outside of the caped crusader genre. We’re talking zombies, sci-fi, and other worldly cop dramas and mysteries.
SPEAKING OF ZOMBIES! Ben Templesmith’s twisted style is most apparent and most effective in a bizarre horror/detective comic called Wormwood, Gentlemen Corpse. Technically Wormwood is a demon worm (but often claims to be a God) who takes over dead bodies and uses them to communicate and move about different layers of the underworld. This is one that Templesmith didn’t just illustrate, he is also the writer and creator.
It isn’t all zombies in Templesmith’s world. One of the most stunning stories he worked on is a short lived detective story called Fell: Feral City, written by king of horror (in comic and novel form) Warren Ellis. The combo of Ellis and Templesmith sent fans into a frenzy for this comic, and we (I mean ‘they’) were devastated when the story dropped off suddenly. Apparently, Ellis’s computer died and took all the scripts for future comics with it in 2008. In 2010 Ellis had created a new script and sent it off to Image Comics and Templesmith but the story had lost momentum and it was difficult finding the money to continue the project. Both artists are planning on picking the story back up though.
Only nine issues long, the comic concerns the disgraced Detective Richard Fell who gets sent out of his home precinct into Snowtown, a collapsing urban nightmare across “the bridge” from the regular city. It seems that Richard Fell has been exiled to a place where true depravity reigns and he alone is fighting for justice. As the comic goes on it becomes clear that there is something else going on in Snowtown, aside from the unimaginably horrible crimes. Many fans of this comic theorized that Richard Fell actually was killed, and is now trapped in a Hell of his own design.
Templesmith has a ton more comics where he is illustrator and writer or co-creator. Comics like Silent Hill, Welcome to Hoxford, Dead Space, and Ten Grand cement his place as a creator of the weird and horrible, with a tongue in cheek humor and a devastatingly twisted mind. He is truly one of my favorite story tellers and illustrators and if I see his name on a cover, I usually get it. I’ve yet to be disappointed.